This post is a part of a series, The Other Virgin Diaries.
Settling. That’s what we call it. Why do smart, beautiful, Christian girls take the immediate rather than wait for someone worthy of them? I ask myself this question often. Maybe it’s the wanna-be-soccer-mom person that I am, but each time I see a girl settling for a guy who devalues her, I feel a parental pang of sadness. The truth is: I know exactly why they settle. I know why girls take the guy in front of them instead of waiting to see if something better is yet to come.
I know the motive because I’ve been there – and now I’m on the other side of the dating game. Married, my husband and I think of our younger selves and say: “If only you knew what God had in store.”
Two Ends of the Spectrum
I have seen two very unhealthy perspectives when it comes to dating and marriage: the first is an overemphasis on marriage as an end-all, achievement, or goal. It is the idea that life ‘begins’ when we marry.This mentality makes marriage an idol and man a god, removing our effectiveness as individual persons.
The second perspective is a complete distaste for marriage (often as a reaction to overemphasis), excessive independence and an attitude of ‘swearing off’ men or marriage in general. This mentality acts as if marriage is man’s idea, not God’s, and scorns God’s design for relationship. It is another form of idolatry: the idolatry of independence and self-discovery.
Neither is healthy, as is the case with most extremes.
In between these two we find women waffling between a desire to be desired and the drive to be individual. But that drive is tempered by a prick in the back of her mind that if – just if – the right man were to show up, would she be in a position to accept him into her life? Would her individual pursuits have alienated her prospects?
So before we delve into why we settle and why we shouldn’t be settling, here are a few thoughts:
- It is not wrong to want to be desired.
- It is not wrong to be independent, strong, and individualistic (in fact it is healthy).
- We were created for companionship, but that companionship is for life.
- We have to say ‘no’ to the lesser in order to say ‘yes’ to the best.
- God-honoring relationships require absolute trust and unshakeable faith.
Want to be Wanted
Woman is beautiful and her body was designed in such a way to please the eye. Man was designed to be visual (in a perfect world, this visual nature would be dedicated to his wife alone). Though both men and women desire one another and need affirmation, a woman’s ‘want to be wanted’ creates in her a drive to please, to be valued, and to be affirmed that she is capable, beautiful, and acceptable for who she is.
But in a fallen world, what was meant for perfect fulfillment have been twisted by Satan, turning desires into idols. Thus as Christians, we cannot confuse our wants with our needs. The root of discontent is a confusion of these two: we elevate a desire to the level of a need (food, clothing, shelter, job) and cry to God asking why He hasn’t filled this insatiable hunger for relationship in our lives. God, however, knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8) – and note He knows what we need, not just what we want.
God has given us the desire to be wanted, but just as God has given the desire, He will provide the fulfillment. We must trust His provision. When we try to fulfill our desires without consulting with and waiting on God – that is when we settle for men who don’t value us.
Independence and Idolatry
Anything can become idolatry. As soon as we place a person, an idea, or a desire on the throne of our hearts we have removed God from His rightful place and ‘lifted up our souls’ to an idol (Psalm 24) unseen though it may be.
In the same way we can idolize our ‘want to be wanted’ we can idolize our ‘right to be free’. In today’s feminized culture of equality, this attitude is very prevalent. A desire for marriage has been seen as ‘co-dependence’ or an abdication of a woman’s higher calling, both of which are far from the truth.
Marriage is not an end-all, nor is it the loss of your identity. It is the continuation of a journey God set you on at birth, and the refinery in which your identity will be clarified. We don’t give up our dreams by being in a relationship. In fact, if you are in a relationship with a man who minimizes or disregards the calling God has placed within you, don’t settle – get out.
A strong, confident woman who trusts God’s provision is a formidable enemy to Satan. He cannot bribe her with the immediate attention of insincere men. He cannot tempt her to doubt God’s provision. She neither idolizes marriage nor idolizes her independence, but desires both with the God-given balance of patience and trust.
The “With Need”
Beth Moore once described our desire for companionship as the “with need”. God has implanted in us a desire – similar to the ‘want to be wanted’ – for companionship. We know it is of Him because God has this same desire:
Genesis 3:8 implies God visited man in the Garden of Eden ‘in the cool of the day’ on a regular basis. From the beginning of time through the rest of Scripture we see God reaching out to man, protecting, providing, sustaining and maintaining a relationship with willful people because He loves us so much (John 3:16). Jesus was the culmination of this heart for companionship: He was literally Emmanuel, God with us (Is. 7:14, Matt. 1:23).
But God’s idea for companionship is not just ‘let’s get ice cream and I’ll call you tomorrow’. God’s companionship is for life, and this is His design for marriage. Companionship is not something we treat flippantly. The “with need” within us is not meant to be satisfied by men who don’t understand God’s plan for companionship. It is meant to be satisfied by someone who understands love: the kind of love built on sacrifice and commitment.
You Don’t Want to Lose Him… But Maybe You Should
I gave you this weighty introduction because I want you to understand something. I want you to see that God designed you for relationships, gave you a desire to be wanted, and wants you to remain your beautiful, individual self no matter who comes into your life. But so often these principles fall on deaf ears, as girls continually give themselves to men who don’t value them in an effort to ‘change’, ‘save’ or will them into reform.
They fear that by standing up for who God says they are they will lose the guy they are dating.
But maybe they should.
In my post ‘Guarding Hearts, Kissing Frogs‘ I talk about how I withheld my kiss from guys who took me out as a test of their character. I made them prove that they valued me for more than what I could offer physically. Our culture teaches us to kiss frogs until we find a prince. Here’s the problem: frogs don’t value kisses, and God does, because He values your heart.
Do you believe you are valuable?
God does. God thinks you’re worth dying for.
So how dare a man devalue a woman God has elevated to such incredible heights?
And dare we allow ourselves to be devalued by settling for the immediate, rather than waiting for the best?
I’m not saying you have to pick up my kiss-test standard, though it worked very well for me. I want you to realize that God has placed incredible value on you. He has a calling on your life and He plans to use you to advance the gospel. But we can limit our availability to the Lord when we settle for lesser things. Is the guy you are dating just convenient affirmation to calm your hurting soul? He may numb the pain for a while, but he can never remove it – and if his heart is not surrendered to God, he’ll only hurt you more.
We can’t experience God’s best as long as we cling to immediate satisfaction. We can’t be treated like queens if we continually date frogs. We can’t be honored and respected if we don’t view ourselves through God’s eyes, as women of incredible value.
As I was preparing this post, I stumbled upon the photo at above from The Time Warp Wife.
“Lord, if it’s not your will, let it slip through my grasp, and give me the peace not to worry about it.”
We have to loosen our grip on the temporary in order to grasp the eternal. We must overcome fear with courage and trust God’s hand in our future.
The antidote to settling is faith.
Say ‘Yes’ to the Best
It is not your job to ‘fix’ or ‘save’ a man. Only God can work a change in a man’s heart.
1 Cor. 15:33-34 says,
If you are dating a man who does not place God as the king of his heart, you will not be able to change him. You can reform him externally; you can whip him into shape. But only God can change his heart. The longer you stay with a man like this the more he will affect you.
Bad company corrupts good character. You cannot come out unaffected.
This decision is hard, which is why Paul says to be ‘sober-minded’ in your approach. A man with no intimate, relational knowledge of God will not draw you nearer God – he will pull you away. There are plenty of men out there who claim Christ but when put to the test in your apartment are the furthest thing from that claim.
In order to have the best, we must say ‘no’ to the lesser. If you want a man to love, honor, and treasure you, my friends, you must believe that God loves, honors, and treasures you. As long as you think you have no worth, you will settle for attention rather than affection. You will take a temporary relationship status over lasting love.
Settling leads girls to give their bodies away in an attempt to increase their value.
Faith leads girls to withhold their bodies because their value is already determined.
You Must Have Faith
Why do girls settle?
Because they don’t believe something better is coming.
I think of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. In Jesus’ sleeping silence, the disciples were facing a storm that filled them with fear. They felt completely alone.
The storm made the disciples doubt God’s goodness and provision. They questioned Jesus: “Don’t you CARE…?” But in a moment, Jesus brought the sea to calm, turned to them and asked: “Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith?”
Our relationships can make us doubt God’s goodness and provision. We start to question Jesus: “Don’t you CARE that I am lonely? Don’t you CARE that I just want someone to love?”
And if Jesus could take our hands and look in our eyes, I believe He would say: “Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith?”
You must have faith that:
- God loves and values you (John 3:16)
- You are valuable and of great worth (Matt. 10:31-32)
- God knows the desires of your heart (He gave them to you) (Ps. 37:4)
- God is using this time to prepare you for something BIGGER than a relationship with another person (Prov. 19:21)
- There are godly, good men in the world
- God’s timing is guided by God’s love. (John 15:9-13)
My friend Jennifer at Prayerfully Speaking recently said this:
“Our confidence in God should make us courageous in this world.”
Courageous women never settle. Faith helps us see beyond the present to the bright future God has for us. Faith enables us to say ‘no’ to the lesser because we know we will receive God’s best, based on His love and grace toward us. Faith tells us that it will be worth the wait, no matter how long it is, to walk hand in hand with a man who loves God as much as we do.
And my friends, it is worth the wait. I could have settled many times over for the immediate attention of men. I may not have been kissed as much, I may not have gone on as many dates – but I was respected, I was honored, and I was valued by good men, and I fell in love with Mr. M because he valued me for me.
If I hadn’t learned to trust God’s provision of the right man and hadn’t learned to wait (and it was hard!) I could have been too busy kissing frogs to see the prince God brought me.
See yourself through God’s eyes. Value yourself as a woman of God. Have confidence that God knows the desires of your heart, and don’t allow anything to distract you from Him. And if that means you have to lose a guy to love God better – then maybe you should.