I’m excited my article “Pure in Heart” will be published in the May 2011 issue of SUSIE magazine. Here’s a sneak peak at the article:
Pure In Heart
The first time Claire fell in love she was seventeen years old. She met Carter while counseling at bible camp and he was fun, adventurous and loved God. Purity was important to her and she made a commitment to remain sexually pure in their relationship. However during their three-year relationship, the idea of emotional purity never crossed her mind. Maybe if it had, she wouldn’t have ended up with a broken heart.
When the word purity comes up it usually relates to the idea of physical or sexual purity. Many teens commit to purity and demonstrate it by wearing a ring or a necklace. The line, “true love waits” is well known among many Christian and non-Christian youth. Even celebs like the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Hillary Duff are showing off their purity rings! But what does it look like to be emotionally pure in a dating relationship? Is it even important? Is it something God cares about or mentions in His word?
Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.
What does it mean to be “pure in heart”? To understand this verse we need to clarify what the word “heart” means. In the bible, the heart often represents three things: our mind, will and emotions. This is where the idea of emotional purity comes from. God has actually called us to be pure in our emotions and what better place to start than in our dating relationships? What is more emotional than dating a guy?
When Claire fell for Carter, she set out clear physical boundaries for their relationship, but she didn’t set out any emotional boundaries. She wore her heart on her sleeve, sharing all of her deepest thoughts and feelings with him right away. This is very easy to do when a relationship begins because everything is so new and exciting. But if we want to remain “pure in heart”, we need to ask ourselves, “What is my motivation for sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with this person?” If our motivation is to push the relationship forward before its ready, or to find acceptance and belonging in a guy’s affirmation, maybe pouring our hearts out isn’t the best idea. In Claire’s situation, her motivation was rooted in insecurities about her value and identity that she wasn’t taking to God. When Carter ended the relationship, her heart was completely crushed because she did not guard it along the way.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the well spring of life”.
God knows our hearts are fragile which is why He instructs us to guard them as well as keep them pure. There are many ways to set up emotional purity boundaries in your dating relationship that could save you from a broken heart like Claire’s. Here are three of them:
1. Patience: Don’t Go too Far, too Fast
Though the phrase “too far, too fast” usually refers to the physical aspect of a relationship, these words can be applied to the emotional aspect as well. In fact, because every human is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, it makes sense that all of these areas should be in balance with one another. If we reveal too much of our hearts too soon, its likely that we’ll end up feeling tempted to move forward physically too soon. So try to hold back – play a little hard to get. As the girl, you have the luxury of sitting back and allowing the guy to work for your affection! Most guys actually enjoy this challenge and when we put everything out there on the first date, we actually rob them of the experience of winning us over, or just scare them off. Every relationship is different, but a good way to stay in check is to ask your self, “Why do I want to reveal more of my emotions to this guy?” If your motivation comes from of a place of insecurity or impatience it’s probably a good idea to wait. In the case of Carter and Claire, she rushed ahead because she was impatient and wanted to control the relationship rather than trust God with it. There was even and small part of her that doubted he was really the guy God had for her, but she ignored that little voice and rushed ahead even faster because of it.
2. Growing Trust: Reveal More as You Trust More
Growing trust takes time and you can love someone without trusting them completely. I’ll say that again: You can love someone without fully trusting them. How is this possible? The bible instructs us to love everyone but it doesn’t instruct us to trust everyone. So as you grow in your dating relationship, just because you feel you love the person doesn’t mean you should trust them with your heart. Trust takes time. It’s built when your boyfriend tells you something about himself and then, over time, you actually observe that thing to be true in his life. Like when He tells you he’ll always be there for you, ask him to go with you to visit your Grandma in the hospital and see if he actually comes. When you see his character confirmed in the way he speaks and lives, trust begins to grow and as it grows more you can reveal more of your heart – your thoughts, feelings and dreams – knowing you are safe to do so. Carter told Claire that he was trustworthy, but she didn’t wait for him to show it in his actions before giving her heart to him. In the end, he wasn’t who he said he was and her heart was hurt because of it.
3. Hidden in God: Pursuing God while being Pursued
“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her” ~Max Lucado. This quote by Max Lucado points out the most important thing we can do to remain emotionally pure – hide our hearts in God. But what does it mean to have a heart hidden in God? It means that our first priority, our number one goal is to know God more. It means we pour out our hopes, dreams, fears and doubts to Him first. It means we turn to God for comfort, assurance, security and purpose before turning to another. In doing this, we truly guard our hearts. God loves you more than any man, even your future husband, will be able to. He wants to speak words of affirmation, life and truth over you – words that will strengthen and protect your heart. It says in Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”. God wants you to remain emotionally pure because He doesn’t want you to get hurt. But sometimes we do fail in this area and our hearts are broken like Claire’s was. Know that God can heal your broken heart and strengthen it once again if you bring it to Him.
Two years after Claire’s relationship with Carter ended she met Jack. Jack was a godly young man who pursued Claire and treated her like the princess she was. But Claire didn’t rush ahead this time and because her heart was hidden in God, Jack had to pursue God in order to win her over. And when He did, she knew that no matter how much she loved Jack, she would always to go to God first, to be the strength of her heart and her portion forever.