Thursday, July 18, 2013

a letter to a friend (on dating)

This is a letter I wrote to one of my younger friends who had questions about dating.

Dear Amy*,
Here is the list of relationship books I promised you.  I hope this will help you with your questions.  They have certainly helped me!

The most important things to remember are these: to above all, trust God.  (This is the hardest thing, to let God be in the driver's seat, and to let Him take us where we're supposed to go.  We keep on wanting to take the wheel, or at least get a peek at the road map!  But remember that His timing is perfect.)  Next, trust your parents.  I personally went through a lengthy rebellious stage, especially when they told me they didn't like the young man I liked.  But I eventually came to see that they were right.  (God let me take the hard way in order to work on my stubbornness.)  You and I have both been blessed with godly parents, and they really do love us and have our best interests at heart.  Third, never let anyone push you to do something you know is wrong.  Always value yourself and know you are an incredible young woman, and God wants the very best for you!  And fourth, be yourself.  When talking to young men, don't overanalyze (guys are usually pretty blunt).  However, guard your heart, because not everybody else has 'what's best for you' in mind.  More often than not, they have 'what's best for ME'!

Anyway... here are the best relationship books I know of.  I hope they help.  And if you ever have questions or anything you would like me to pray for, just let me know.

1) Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  The basic message of this book is that women need love and men need respect.  It doesn't mean that women don't need respect and men don't need love.  Instead, it takes a good hard look at giving one's spouse what may not come naturally for you to give.  It can be difficult for a man to communicate REAL love to a woman, just as it can be difficult for a woman to respect a man (especially if she )is mad at him).  Also talks about communication (an essential in any relationship).

2) Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel.  This husband-and-wife team talk about men and women's differences in communication with a clever food analogy.  Men are like waffles because they tend to compartmentalize, or put things in 'boxes' (like the squares on a waffle).  Women are like spaghetti because everything in our heads is connected, much like spaghetti noodles all touching each other.  These two were guest speakers that I was privileged to see once, and they were so fun and helpful.  Their message has stuck with me ever since, and it has REALLY helped me!  They also wrote a book for married couples called Red-Hot Monogamy.  I haven't read it yet, but I plan to after I am married.

3) For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice.  I own this book, so you are welcome to borrow it anytime.  Basically it demystifies guys chapter-by-chapter, and explains them really well.  I referred to it a lot as a teenager whenever I was trying to figure out why a boy did something. (And there were a lot of those times, because I was boy-crazy!)  There's another book too, For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, which I have also read.  It's basically the same thing except it's intended for married women, because it talks about sex.  It's not graphic that I remember, but it is honest.

4) Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson.  This book is actually about raising boys, so you wouldn't think that this book belonged in a list of books about relationships.  But actually, it really helped me 'figure out' guys so much better.  I read it in college, but I think it helped me get... well, less silly.  Maybe it won't help you as much as it did me, as you have more brothers and may already know these things, but I'll include it anyway.

5) I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris.  Also I Gave Dating a Chance by Jeramy Clark.  I read them both before I actually started dating, and they were the subject of much controversy.  I came away from them both even more confused, since I was in unknown territory, and decided "not to knock dating until I've tried it!"  They were both helpful to my understanding, however, and helped me on my way to figuring out what I was getting myself into.

6) The Stork is Dead by Charlie Shedd.  This oddly-titled book was published in the 1960s, during the 'sexual revolution' (which has messed everything up).  It was written by a pastor to teens, and it is EXCELLENT.  You will probably have trouble finding it--it's likely out of print.  But... I own it, and you may borrow it!  It's short, full of clear, direct answers, and I highly recommend it.  (It's about sex, but not graphic at all, just very honest.  Includes lines guys use to try and lure you, etc.  Good for helping keep your guard up!)  My mom recommended it to me.

7) The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  This book is about how you feel loved, and how to make your spouse feel loved.  Loving someone truly is great and good, but sometimes it can be hard to actually show love to them.  My top two "love languages" (how I feel loved) are without a doubt 'quality time' and 'physical touch,' but the book also includes 'acts of service,' 'gifts,' and 'words of affirmation.'

8) Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot.  Remember Jim Elliot, the missionary who got killed in The End of the Spear?  Elisabeth was his wife.  Okay, I'm not even done reading this, but this book is SO good I have to tell you about it!  I was a little wary at first, since I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but it's great.  My neighbor recommended it.  When I first opened it, I was like, "Oh great, this is one of those 'wives submit to your husbands' kinds of books," but as I got into it I thought, "Oh, this is actually pretty good."  It's about letting the man do the chasing and taking the initiative, but so much more...  Elisabeth has also written Passion and Purity, Let Me Be a Woman, and The Mark of a Man.  I haven't read them yet, but I'm definitely going to!

9) Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.  The companion book to Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (also recommended).  What it means to be a woman (or man) in God, how God meant us to be.  Take these books with a grain of salt, but they are still pretty good.  I own Captivating as well, but Wild at Heart was my favorite of the two.  That's probably because I was more interested in learning about men than I was in learning how to be a woman, but learning about both is kind of essential. :)

So that's the list.  There are many, many more that I have read, including secular books on dating, but these are the ones I found most helpful.  The best of the best, if you will.  I have sifted through a lot of information, because I personally want to be the very best wife and mom I can possibly be.  It's hard to be patient when I have this desire, but I know that if God wants me to be married, it will happen at the right time. (Our timing isn't always 'the right time' even if we feel ready.  Maybe the person we're supposed to be with isn't ready yet!  The best thing I have found during these times is to pray for my future husband.)

The last things I would like to share with you in this letter are two sayings that have been a great comfort to me over the years.

"What is popular is not always right, what is right is not always popular."
(Let it sink in...)

"It's better to be single and wish you were married than be married and wish you were single."

These have come back to me over and over, and I hope that they will help you if you ever need them. :)

So, my sister in Christ, you are wonderful and I am praying for you!  Hope this letter helps!

Note: names have been changed to protect privacy.

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