My walls are gonna break, so close, it’s more than I can take. I’m so tired of turning and running away when love just isn’t safe. [“Safe” – Britt Nicole]
Love is often said to be the greatest force in the world, one that can overcome anything. The world says that love is supposed to be empowering, energizing, and emboldening. But recently, I’ve found that love can be tiring. Love is all-consuming, self-sacrificing, inconvenient, and isn’t always safe. Love is great until it hurts us. Love is great until we learn we’re loving the wrong thing, or not loving someone the way we should.
The topic of the nature of opposite gender relationships has definitely been on my mind in this past year, whether it be adultery or marriage. I’m starting to think it will never get easier. Or maybe it was just never meant to be easy. I hope it will get easier, as I keep growing in God, but I’m just so impatient and short-sighted that that day when I can conduct purely platonic and Christ-centered relationships seems like a distant dream.
I had a talk today with one of my older sisters in my fellowship about all this, how to even identify when you’re getting into one of these not very “safe” friendships with guys. Basically it boiled down to if I was giving someone “special attention,” spending a lot more time with him than other guys, him knowing a lot more about me than other guys do, and the classic tell-tale sign, if he’s the first person I want to tell good news to.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with opposite gender friendships. I think they’re totally fine and God-glorifying when God is actually in the center of it, when we’re both centered on growing in our faith, and not fixated on each other, when God is the reason why we relate, rather than emotional dependence or superficial similarities. However, simply because of the way God made us, there’s something extremely enticing and exciting about opposite gender relationships, something that makes us want to draw closer and closer together, to the point where it may no longer be fine, but rather, adulterous.
One of the reasons I was hesitating to go to the college I go to now was because I didn’t want to leave my friend, because I thought I could help him finally turn to God. I’m not sure why I thought that, since I only knew him because some of his best friends brought him to my church and were Christian as well. If it was any other friend, I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave, knowing that our paths were diverging for a reason. But he was no ordinary friend, and I allowed our friendship to blur into something else, something undefinable, something dangerous. Romantic love, even the illusion of it, makes us irrational, unable to see the reality in every situation.
My mentor, able to see how my own judgment was being compromised by the goggles of love and romance, told me very bluntly, “You don’t need him, and he doesn’t need you.” Obviously no one wants to hear that someone doesn’t need them. But my mentor was right. He didn’t need me. It’s too much pressure on us when we think that way, and also, I was not the best suited person to testify to him in the first place; all I would teach him was what a God-glorifying relationship is not. We cannot think that we are someone’s only link to God. God doesn’t need us, but He chooses to work through us, making it such an honor when He does allow us to serve Him.
Through the whole experience, I began to see that God is not just a just, holy, blameless, righteous God, but He really is a God of love. Though the friendship was not meant to last, He was trying to use it to discipline me and shape me into someone after His heart, someone able to discern what it meant to follow Him even in, and especially in, my relationships. On one hand was a holy God who cannot tolerate the undefinable relationship I was having (and thus I was committing adultery), but on the other hand was the loving aspect of God that loved me enough to teach me a lesson and break my heart with this friendship in order to teach me to have boundaries.
Though I still struggle, the one thing I am still sure of is if I even have to ask if any part of the friendship is “okay,” then it most certainly is not okay. Though I continually fail Him, especially in this aspect of my life, His love never fails. He never fails, and always prevails, even above all my sin.
Your love brings me to my knees, brings me to my knees, my King forever. You are all my heart desires until the end of time, my soul surrendered…. When I lose my way, I am beckoned into grace, You alone are my everything. [“To My Knees” – Hillsong Young & Free]