9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part II


“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice ―

Last week we looked at the first 5 things I’ve learned about guy/girl relationships. This week, let’s dive into the last 4. Have any thoughts, comments, questions, or insights to share? Leave a comment and I might just write a post about it!

6. Men are Not All in Mortal Danger

This is pretty embarrassing to say out loud, but… Every guy I meet is not in mortal danger of falling helplessly in love with me.

He just isn’t.

Same goes for you. I know it sounds silly when I just say it like that, but I think girls harbor this feeling more than we’d like to admit.

Sometimes we get so nervous around guys because we’re secretly afraid that we’re so irresistible that just one word from us will send them reeling into the throes of unrequited love. If God wants us to get married, he has spouses in store for us. They will love and appreciate us — but that doesn’t mean every male on the planet will.

You are a pretty special girl, but, thankfully, God gave guys preferences too. They aren’t in mortal danger in your presence after all.

7. Hiding from Them Isn’t Any Better Than Flirting

I learned this one from reading the book It’s (Not) That Complicated. The authors suggest that the same sin behind flirting is at the root of ignoring the guys around us: We’re not really loving them.

Is it love to value my feelings/awkwardness/embarrassment more than I value common politeness and kindness? Definitely not!

I once was so terrified of talking to guys that I would “hide,” ducking into halls, rushing through doors, or going the long way around in order to avoid them. This idea really convicted me!

Instead of thinking about my own fear, I turned my thoughts to showing respectful friendliness and encouragement to the guys I encountered. It took a lot of practice (and still does!), but recognizing my lack of Christian love really revolutionized my approach to friendships with young men.

8. Your Age Matters

Not too long ago, I realized something. Age matters, when you’re talking about how a girl should approach relationships with boys.

I am not talking about what age a person should date, or court, or anything like that. I’m just saying that I think about my relationships with guys very differently now, at age 22 than I did at age 15.

When I was 15, my main concern was trying to not think about guys too much because I wasn’t ready to think too much about what I wanted in a spouse. It just wasn’t time. 

Now? Well, now is a little different. When I reached marriageable age, I had a strange shift in thinking. Now, thoughts of what is important in a marriage are a lot more relevant than they would have been at age 13 or even 17. Then, I just wanted to stay undistracted because I wasn’t even ready for marriage. Now, although I still desire to be fully immersed in the tasks God has given me for today, it is wise for me to spend more time readying myself for being a wife and mother. Then, it wasn’t time. Now, it is perhaps much closer.

So if you’re 12 and having trouble with too many thoughts about boys, this is probably not the time to start planning your wedding colors and scouting for potential grooms. Now is your time to grow in your family relationships and your walk with God. Trust me, 22 is right around the corner. 🙂

And if you’re 22, don’t be afraid of giving marriage at least a minimal amount of thought. By all means, stay focused on your current responsibilities, but realize that a wise woman looks ahead and prepares herself for the days to come. Marriage is a lovely, precious gift, and God may give it to you one of these days.

9. Be Yourself

It’s well and good to say “be normal.” But…what does that mean, exactly? Be what other people think is normal?

Or actually be you…which, come to think of it, may not be that “normal” at all?

If you are focused on your relationship with Christ and sincere about not tearing down your brothers in Christ with immodest dress or flirtatious behavior, just be you. 

I have struggled with this too. I know a lot of people, many of whom have different convictions than my family and I do. When I know I am going to be with certain people, I often feel the urge to hide my personal choices or keep my enthusiasm for a topic to myself.

My conclusion? If I have my own Biblically-derived convictions about something, I am not going to hide it. While I don’t have to go around announcing my perspective, explaining my perceptions of modesty, or pushing my favorite music on others, I am also not going to act like I am someone else.

I am me.  And that’s okay.

Well! That was a lot of fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the 9 things I’ve learned about relationships with guys over the past 10 years or so. If you missed the first part of this list, you can read 9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I here.

Have any other topics you want me to cover? Email me at called2joy@gmail.com or leave a comment below!

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent HIs only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

– 1 John 4:7,9, NKJV –

9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I


“Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love.”

– Albert Einstein –

In the last 10 years, I’ve learned a lot of things about guys…and how I as a girl should behave around them. These 9 things aren’t really secrets, actually…just things that have encouraged, inspired, and sustained me as I navigate the strange and rough waters of young adulthood.

I hope to debunk some myths, relieve some fears, and inspire you with the tools you need to show godly love to the young men in your life.

1. “Crushes” Aren’t Always Bad

Before you start running the other way, let me clarify.

It is okay to like someone. It is not okay to be obsessed.

God made girls with antennae that perk up whenever a fellow walks into the room. We have emotions that go on red alert when a guy starts to be kind to us. We have hearts that suddenly start doing backflips in our chests.

That’s normal, actually.

So if you find that you actually…eh, like a guy, it’s not the end of the world. God made us to have an appreciation for men. That is a good thing.

But here’s the key: You can admire someone, enjoy being with them, and even have hope for “something more” one day without letting thoughts of them take over your life. 

Remember, a guy will not make you happy. It may seem like they can, but they can’t. So if you start dreaming of Mr. Right saving your from your unhappy existence, you will be disappointed.

So…what’s the verdict? Is a crush always a horrible affliction? I think my friend Emily sums it up well:

“After a series of paralyzing crushes in my midteens that I denied even to myself, I came to the conclusion that a crush is a period of time when you see a person at their best without the balance of faults. It’s not always that your view of them is inaccurate, only that it is incomplete. The solution, therefore, is not to blind yourself to their true strengths — this dishonors both them and their Maker! — but to seek the complete portrait that comes with time and a more mature relationship.”

2. Boys are People

This is obvious, but boys are people too. They have emotions. They have dreams, and fears, and loves, and hurts.

So don’t treat them like objects. They are people made in God’s image, just like you. Please, please, don’t forget that.

And on that note, guys are also human. Meaning, they aren’t perfect.

Don’t think that your “special guy” is the only faultless one on the earth. He isn’t. He has struggles and sins just like you do. So don’t idolize him, or have unrealistic expectations. People — including Mr. Right –will fail you. Be ready for that, focusing on the grace that you’ve been given by God. That grace is what will glue your future relationship together.

3. What Treating Them Like Brothers Doesn’t Mean

I sometimes have trouble with the idea of treating a young man “like a brother in Christ.” Does that phrase ever bother you?

This concept comes from the apostle Paul’s directive to the young pastor Timothy:

Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NKJV).

But…what does this really mean when put into practice? And what does it not mean?

Honestly, this one question could be an entire blog post. (Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more, and I’ll write one!)

But to narrow it down, treating a young man like a brother “with all purity” means that you’re not looking on him solely as an object of your romantic dreams or a way to get what you want. It means that you care about him enough to want what’s best for him, not just what would make you happy.

It means that his relationship to Christ is more important to you than his relationship with you. And it means that you’re looking at more than his exterior (handsome or homely though it may be). It means you value him as a person, not just a love interest.

But what doesn’t this verse mean?  

In my understanding, this verse does not mean you can’t ever think of a guy romantically. How would people ever get married? “Oh, sorry, but the Bible says I have to always think of you as just a brother in Christ.”

So when people say, “I’m just thinking of him/her as a brother/sister in Christ,” that’s wonderful. It is a very important thing to keep in mind, so that we do not objectify those around us.

But it also doesn’t mean that you can’t ever think “Oh, that’s the kind of guy I want to marry” or even “I think I would be happy if he was ever interested in me.”

Related Post: “To See Like You” 

4.  Guys Like Real Girls

This is super tough for guys. Girls can act so strange! I ought to know — I am one!

It is such a relief to guys when girls are “real” around them. (And guys, we girls like it when you’re normal, too!) So when you’re conversing with the fellows in your life, just be a real, genuine person. Say sincere things.

It is such a huge relief to talk to a person who doesn’t have an agenda. Be a friend, first and foremost.

5. Your Heart Might Not Shrink (The Truth about “Giving Away Pieces”)

When I was younger, I learned so much from several conservative Christian conferences my family attended. One of these conferences in particular taught about the importance of guarding your heart and not “giving away pieces” of it to every guy you meet.

But what does “giving away pieces of your heart” really mean?

Serial dating is one thing — yes, that’s a big problem. But for the average Christian girl who’d just like to grow up and marry a nice godly man, how helpful is this advice?

In the years since attending these conferences, I think I’ve seen a little of both sides of this coin. So I have a proposition.

Maybe caring about people and getting hurt isn’t the worst thing.

Yes, there is definitely a balance here. I think girls should be wise and careful about the boys they have as friends. I definitely don’t think that it is beneficial for girls of any age to walk around with their heads in the clouds always dreaming about the latest love of their life, or to go about throwing themselves at guys. That’s definitely not what I’m saying.

But I do think that we can put too much emphasis on keeping ourselves “pure,” when what we’re really doing is blockading our hearts against pain.

Sure, I believe it is unwise for a girl to throw herself into love at every turn. (One way I guard against this is by consciously avoiding the phrase “in love” regarding my feelings for guys I admire).

Sometimes, there are good precautions to keep your emotions in check. Over the years, I’ve had to make various decisions, such as times of limiting my consumption of books/movies with a dominant romantic subplot, or intentionally not popping up in every place where a guy friend tends to be.

But trying to avoid heart-fragmentation is no excuse for not loving your brothers in Christ. They are still fellow Christians. They are still that neighbor Jesus said to love (Mark 12:31). How can you do that if you never let yourself get close enough to care?

 Life has heartache, and sometimes loving someone — even as “just a friend” — is heart wrenching. And sometimes it is pure joy.

soft heart
“”Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” – Katherine Henson

Painful relationships don’t indicate that you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed to keep your heart pure. It might actually mean that you’re sincerely caring in a broken world. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Parents are a huge help in this — my mom and I have an extremely open relationship, and I keep her posted on my thoughts of every guy I know (and every girl too, for that matter!) My dad and I have also had several conversations about the young men I know, so that we are all “in the loop.” I can’t express how incredible this has been. I get to hear immediate feedback from them about my friendships. Plus, their years of experience and logical approach help me fend off overly-emotional reactions.

So…does liking a boy mean that you’re giving away part of your heart?


You might be developing an unhelpful habit of unrealistic obsession that will get in the way of a successful marriage later.

Or it could mean that you are learning how to navigate a very complicated world of human emotions, relying with all your might on your God and on the wise counselors He’s placed in your life.

I will testify to this: I’ve had dreams die and hopes turn out to be nothing more than that…budding hopes.

But those dreams that died and those hopes that never came true did something to me. They didn’t take part of my heart — they made it stronger, and deeper, and wiser. 

The prayers I prayed for young men, and the friendships I developed were not a waste. They’ve matured me and led me to a greater dependence on the only One who can always satisfy my heart.

Related Posts: “Half-Frozen Lake” and “Living Safe”

Come back next week for the rest of the things I’ve learned about guy and girls over the years! Have any thoughts? Comment below!

Consciousness of the Celebrant


“Art should be a great hallelujah to life.”
― Marty Rubin ―

My friend Lizzie is staying the summer with my family on our farm.

On her birthday a few days ago, the celebration began before she even peeped out of her bedroom. I scrawled a loving note before going out for my morning run. Later in the morning, my mom sneaked into the kitchen and began crafting a fruit-laden birthday cake while I distracted Lizzie with outdoor activities. My brother added his happy birthday note to our stash of notes. My dad planned an adventurous hike for the afternoon.

All to celebrate the life of my friend.

I wonder…is celebration becoming a lost art? 

It’s one thing to make a birthday special, and another to live as a conscious celebrant.

In liturgy, a celebrant is the one who comes to the Lord’s Table to partake — to celebrate with rite and ceremony, to see in some ordinary action like eating an extraordinary thing like redemption. Merriam-Webster also defines the word as “a person who celebrates something.”

So, I want to be a celebrant.

It’s so easy not to be.

I woke up with a tired twinge in my muscles this morning. Beds need made, clothes put away, a lunch packed as I head across town to teach music for the day. Honestly…I really don’t feel like making a big deal of anything. This, then, is why I fear the extinction of the celebrant. I know myself too well.

How can we revive this rare breed of people, the dreamers who pour themselves into creative outlets of celebration? How can I become a girl of conscious celebration?

1. Christians are Called to be Celebrants

It’s true. As Christians, each of us is called to daily celebration. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians. 5:16-18).

We have endless things to celebrate, actually.

The new mercies of the morning, the return of the sun to warm the earth again. That today we are alive. That today is a gift we don’t deserve, but it has still been lavished upon us.

And most of all, that a God of endless worth placed His affection on a unloving people and called them to His salvation. He saved us! I don’t care how I feel this morning — this one trumps all others! No matter if the world crumbles and my life turns upside-down, this reason for celebration will endure. My God loves me.

Oh, Father, give us the grace to live this celebration.

2. Celebrants Think of Others

I doubt I need to tell you how easy it is to go about the day without thinking of anyone else. Deadlines and to-do lists bog us down. We forget about the 7.3 million other people that share this world with us. I honestly don’t understand how I can sometimes be so blind to the people around me.

The true celebrant is one who looks around and really sees.

Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:

Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave….”

– Philippians 2:3-7a, CEB –

But I don’t think this celebratory nature is determined by accident, by chance, by genetic wiring, or any other uncontrollable force.

I think it is something you can cultivate, if you want to take the time.

The verse says “watch out for what is better for others.” That is definitely something we can actively do. And what about the next phrase, “adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus”?

So I guess the question is…how much do I really want to obey? How much do I really want to step outside of myself and see the needs of others?

3. Celebrants See the Miracle in the Everyday

My friend Lizzie is good at this one. I’ll find notes on my pillow, a flower in my room, a carefully-copied poem laid where I can see it.

She’s studied me, and she’s learned what sends my soul into raptures.

And then she does it.

Don’t laugh…but that last part is the key. I study you. I see what makes you light up, what things refresh your heart.

And then I make a plan and actually do that thing.

That is how to be a celebrant.

Another dear friend named Emily inspires me with her creative and elaborate celebratory schemes. With 5 younger siblings, she often plans adventurous sibling dates, puts on lovely teatimes complete with adventures in Narnia, and implements actual Pinterest ideas (rather than just collecting pins like I do…) like jello Lego pieces or mailing letters in plastic bottles.

See…here’s the thing.

It really doesn’t take all that much to brighten up someones life, or make a memory that will never fade.

It takes thankfulness. It takes a little determination. It takes time to see, and the willingness to set yourself aside for a few minutes and focus on truly loving that dear person right in front of you.

You don’t have to be a Pinterest craft master or a romantic soul to do this, either. Just look. Just learn what people love. Just train yourself to listen and pay attention to what makes your family members smile, or your friends’ eyes shine.

Then do it.

Why not have an impromptu celebration today? Curate the consciousness of a celebrant.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

– Albert Schweitzer –

Why I Can’t Rescue You


“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

– Vance Havner –

They say an eagle will push her chick from the nest to teach it flight,

But I see you plummeting with no downy back in sight

To bear up underneath you, to catch you before gravity overwhelms.

Your face stills, dry of laughter as desert bones,

Your hands lay unmoved in your lap. I know

That there must be something to do, some way to break in.

Jagged incisor-tooth mountains of fear taunt you,

And I grab up a stick to keep them at bay, wondering who

Else would come to rescue if I don’t.

Your closet holds monsters I can’t see, monsters of memory

And deeper scars than routine life reveals, and heavy mysteries

That bow your soul, stoop your shoulders.

You walk a moon-basked road lined with hidden pain that leaps

Upon you every chance it can, creeps

Upon you, leaves you breathless again.

They say an eagle catches the chick she made to fall…

But I am not an eagle, I find, not at all.

Too few feathers, and can’t fly myself.

I tried to be your desert fount and found not joy enough

To irrigate the desolation of a true-thirsty soul. Not enough.

My joy ran dry in trying it.

I shook my stick at the mountains, and they bit

Back with all their craggy wrath, and I never before knew it–

How feeble a stick is against a face of stone.

I brought out a candle to shine into your closet of fears,

And found there dark that swallowed all my mustered light in tears,

So my light wasn’t light enough.

And your moon-bright path of anguish lurking is a path barred

To all but one. Yourself, the scarred,

Must walk it alone.

This is why I can’t rescue you.

My wings, joy-fount, my stick too,

Stub of candle, company…all not enough.

So maybe I’ve been sent for this instead,

To play John and shout out the Lamb’s coming tread

Upon the dry sands of your soul.

To tell you the Eagles are coming before very long,

That the plummet ends in feathered wing, not from

An untimely meeting with the ground.

To run ahead and call out to you the coming end of desert,

Proclaim a day free from burning sun, a coming rest

Where joy will spring unhindered from a truer Fount.

I searched and found a surer Mountain-Slayer than my stick,

A Mountain-Layer, Molder, Engraver, to whom they are toothpicks,

With hands strong-tender enough to hold the fears at bay, and hold you.

I’ll come to you and blush color in praise, like a dawning sky

Crowns the rising of day’s king as he lifts his gold eye on high,

For a Light comes, light enough for every darkest closet you have.

And your lonely road–pain-wracked, thorn-tangled way?

He that molded the soft moon molded, too, that dark way

And meets you there, He who, too, is the Scarred.

This is why I cannot rescue you, be your savior, make it all right and good,

But maybe every sad thing, after all, is coming untrue, and would

You let me walk into believing it with you?

“I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
    Where will my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the maker of heaven and earth.”

– Psalm 12:1-2, CEB –