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Navigating the Undefined Relationship

It’s the agony and the ecstasy, isn't it? An amazing godly man shows interest in you, and you want to know if this is “the one.” Like, now

Fear looms on the horizon and the emotional stakes are high. You want to do the right thing, you long to honor the Lord, but what does that look like in this undefined relationship? How do you risk the chance at love while guarding your heart from unnecessary anguish?

I spent long years wrestling with this question, and it has been the subject of countless conversations with other single friends. We girls long for clarity, guarantees, and a fail-proof method for falling in love with the right guy at the right time.

But there are none.

After many years of singleness, I realized there is only one Guarantee, and His name is Jesus. The rest is not promised to us. God gives us light and grace for one step at a time, inviting us to fix our eyes and hearts on Him as we tread on high places.

God the Lord is my strength;

    He makes my feet like the deer’s,
        He makes me tread on my high places.  Habakkuk 3:19

While I was in the thick of this struggle as a single woman, I wrote a list of principles that helped me navigate my high places. These principles were the light and grace God gave me for precarious steps. They held me together when my heart was coming undone, and reminded me of what was true in the midst of great confusion.

9 principles for navigating the undefined relationship

Pursue sincere love. “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

Pray, pray, pray. Then pray some more! (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Pick someone else's brain. Seek wisdom and input from wise, godly people in your life. Surround yourself with truth-tellers who love you and want what's best for you. (Proverbs 15:22)

Practice patience. Wait on God, not on a man. We will do this for the rest of our lives, as wives and mothers too, each day giving us another opportunity to set our hope on the Lord and wait for His timing and purposes in our lives. (Isaiah 64:4)

Promise nothing outside of a relationship. Don’t give all of your precious time, energy, emotions, physical affections, and daydreams to a man who isn’t interested in you enough to pursue a relationship with you. If he’s not committing, you shouldn't either. (Proverbs 4:23)

Purpose that Christ will be your first love, whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married. No man can or ever will be God. Let man be man and God be God! (Isaiah 40:6-8,18)

Provide a safe place. From your inward motivations to your clothes and body language, ask the Lord to make you a woman who is beautifully safe for a man to know and be around. Are you prodding him on sexually, or are you encouraging him in the Lord? (Ephesians 5:3)

Preach truth to yourself. Don’t listen to your emotions; command them! Stay in the Word and do what it says. (Jeremiah 17:91 John 3:20James 1:22-25)

Praise the Lord continually. He gives and He takes away. He is always good, and He knows what He’s doing. And He’s wise enough to not always give us what we think we’ll die without. (Romans 11:33-36)

The ultimate goal

Brick walls don’t risk relationships; people with hopes and feelings do. We all experience some form of brokenness and heartache on our way to the altar, but God’s wisdom can guard us from foolish and rash decisions. Moreover, a heart that is filled to the brim with Christ and His love, is a heart that will win the battle against idolatry and weather the brokenness when it comes.

On this side of marriage, I look back on some of my undefined relationships with guys and shake my head. Even with all my good intentions, prayers of surrender, and the principles above, I had to wade through the waters of confusion and heartache to realize just how desperately I needed Jesus in this area of my life.

And somewhere along the way, I finally started living like marriage was not my ultimate goal. Christ was. In the end, when Eddie and I said “I do,” we realized that God had pulled off the impossible—and He alone would get the glory.

Dear one waiting long on the Lord, I’m praying that your heart will be full of faith to see God do the impossible in your own life as you tread on your own high places. 

He is not finished with you yet…

Colleen Chao blogs about her journey from singleness to marriage to motherhood. Colleen makes her home in Redlands, California with her strong and handsome husband, Edward. A wee little man named Jeremy joined the Chaos on July 17, 2011, adding to the joy (and sleeplessness) of the journey.

Honor Who God Made You to Be

We all have those moments, days and sometimes even years of feeling inadequate, inferior and just plain unlovely. If we are not careful those things will consume us, our lives and how we I view ourselves and those around us.

God spoke this to me recently in one of those bouts of insecurity and inadequacy, “honor who you are; who I made you to be.”

Often times we want to tell God that we will honor who we are once we first change ourselves and overhaul who we are, until there is no original version left of us at all to honor. So we honor who we want to be instead of who God made us to be. 

"Yes, God, I will honor who I am once I remove who you made me to be. Once I lose all this weight, once I get plastic surgery to fix what you created incorrectly."

What we see as imperfection and flawed, God sees at remarkable and His most incredible masterpiece. We want to take Gods “Mona Lisa” and throw some filters on it to make His original piece of art unrecognizable. 

The bigger picture here is that God created us intricately with a lot of planning and not even the tiniest detail was left spared. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)  

To dishonor what God has lovingly made is a slap in the face of God and the ultimate disrespect. He made our individual personality, heart, mind, thoughts, physical features and stature for His purposes. God did not make a mistake; we are just misinterpreting His art work. Have you ever looked at a piece of artwork and thought, “what the heck is that?Art is subjective just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder and our ultimate and only qualified beholder is Jesus Christ.

There's nothing more draining or depressing than wishing you were the one sitting next you; the one you will never be, but yet are still utterly and seemingly hopelessly consumed by.  

There is no benefit of wishing you were someone else, no pay off just bitterness and contempt. I don't know about you but I don't have that kind of energy to waste.  We have to stay busy and focused on using what Gods given us right now to fulfill His call on our lives and we cannot allow insecurity to steal our destinies.  

How do we honor who God made us to be?

  • We must take care of ourselves. This includes physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Taking care of ourselves is one of the highest forms of honoring God because we are honoring the temple He created.  If we have balanced taking care of all parts of ourselves we will then be free to help those around us without feeling constantly drained.  Taking care of yourself also includes who you are allowing to be actively involved in your life even in your thoughts and emotions.  It is respecting ourselves in all facets.  Are there areas in your life that you could be taking better care of yourself and have more balance?

    “For God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT)

    “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV)
  • Using the tools God has entrusted with us in our lives now. We don’t sit around waiting for the temperature, conditions or circumstances to be just right to jump into where God needs us now. Where could you be of service right now in your life using the tools you have currently?  
  • Work diligently and serve wholeheartedly for God. No matter what the task (even the most mundane); we must do earnestly and willingly for God not man.  We should live for an audience of one, God.  When we do that the inevitable affect will be that those around us will see us working and being the utmost best we can be (awesome how that works!).  I don’t care if you are changing diapers or flipping burgers, do it to the best of your ability and I guarantee you it will show Gods glory.

    “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23 NLT)

    “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” (Ephesians 6:7 NIV)

When you are honoring God by being who He created you to be you will face some obstacles. The enemy will try and hit us the hardest by going straight for the heart of who we are and who we were fashioned to be. If he can manipulate us to believe that we are less than, he can hinder us from our purpose and calling in one swift swoop; the one two punch knockout!  I want to leave you with this quote:
“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember (who you are) and whom you belong.”

Leilani is a single mom to a beautiful 4 year old little girl. She is in love with the Creator of the stars. Her mission is simple yet so big, to encourage and bring Jesus to all in need. To bring hope by loving people, writing, photography, music, poetry/spoken word and meeting people right where they are. God's Grace is her air.

So We’re Living Together…What’s the Big Deal?

What a precious baby girl! …Wait. She belongs to my old college roommate? No way! …Wait. Did I miss her wedding? 
As I curiously stalk my old roommate on Facebook I realize I hadn’t missed anything. Not even an engagement. Just the reality of another friend cohabiting with her boyfriend.

Four Ways to Show your Husband Who’s Boss

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen the chart floating around Facebook that lists attributes of the first child, middle child, last child and only child. And more than likely, you’ve resonated with at least one of the traits in your box. Can I get a shout from any of my fellow first-borns out there? I mean, really. We didn’t just think we were the boss. We were the boss. Or at least we had our siblings convinced that we were.

The Single Woman’s Home

As a Christian woman, trained as a Home Economist, I never expected to be single past my mid-twenties. However, the Lord had a much different plan for me and has gently matured my attitude toward singleness, as well as the purpose of marriage.   I know now that I should marry only if our united lives would be more effective for the Lord than either of us are in our single state.

Misunderstood For Christ

The feeling of being misunderstood is unmistakable. It causes us to second guess ourselves.
I have been misunderstood in many ways; my heart, my past, and my motives.  Perhaps out of all those misunderstandings, my relationship with God has been the most misunderstood by others.

“You are taking this whole Jesus thing way too seriously.”