We didn’t have time to answer all of the questions during the experience on Sunday, but to make sure nobody gets left our we decided to follow up and answer the rest of the questions here.
“How much attention is too much attention, for your significant other? (i.e. can you make an idol out of your partner?)”
We briefly talked about this on Sunday. Every relationship is different and every person has different quotas to satisfy their need for quality time. However, the line we have to avoid is when the relationships shifts to NEED. When you need the other person to feel worth or value or contentment with yourself then it’s gotten to a point where it is unhealthy.
“What is the best way to say “no” to a toxic person?”
Saying no is hard for a lot of us. It’s never easy to feel like you are disappointing people or letting them down. BUT, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have those hard conversations with people at times. If you’re not heading in the same direction or have the same values you will inevitably have to say no. You don’t have to make it personal or about them. Always find a way to be gracious, but firm.
“If you’ve had sex can you go back to living a pure life in your next relationship and follow what God wants or is it too late?”
Purity isn’t just about sex. Purity is as much or more inward as it is outward. You can always learn from your mistakes and use that as fuel to be better and have better relationships moving forward. Your past doesn’t have to dictate your future. So the short answer is, “YES!”
“Even if you have you restrain yourself outwardly, how bad is it if you’re lusting internally?”
It’s equally as important to strive to have lust in check internally as it is externally. Jesus talked about this when He said the law says not to commit adultery, but I say you shouldn’t look lustfully. It’s great that you’re restraining outwardly, but if you don’t control what’s happening internally it will eventually lead to sin outwardly. This is extremely difficult, but it can be done with filters, boundaries and accountability.
“What if you come from totally different religions?”
Relationships are hard enough without compounding the situation with different beliefs and values. Paul talks about being equally yoked, which is a simple analogy for making sure our relationships are heading in the same direction at the same pace. It’s vitally important to have a shared faith- “missionary dating” rarely works.
“Is it ok to be in a relationship with someone who is a single parent?”
Yes. Again, we put a great deal of emphasis on not where you’ve been but where you are going. Just because someone has a previous failed relationship doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for a great future. But to be fair, this may take a great deal more effort. You aren’t just a dating a person, but a family. Their priorities are likely much different than someone without children.
“Are ideologies potential dealbreakers? Views on same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.”
Potential deal breakers? Yes. It really all depends on the level of dogmatism involved. If it’s something their extremely passionate about and you strongly disagree then you’ll likely end up a constant state of “heated discussion”. We are all different and have different upbringings that form our beliefs, but you shouldn’t have to change what you believe to make a relationship work. It really comes back to the idea of being equally yoked. Relationships work better when they’re headed the same direction.
I saw a word the other day that really bugged me. I think it’s because I see how it could creep into our culture as a church.
Velleity- a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action
One of my greatest fears is that we allow velleity to be at play in our volunteer culture. I think it’s an easy road to get on. It’s easy to enjoy what we do, but not allow that to compel us to action.
I think we could easily morph into a country club culture. We love coming and hanging out with our friends. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THE CHURCH IS! We are the medium God has chosen to use to influence the world for His sake. Sure we love each other and enjoy the company, but that is only a by-product.
Let me give you some real life examples of velleity:
I love the church BUT I’m not going to show up on time.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to contribute.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to go out of my way to help somebody else.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to give my hard earned money to it.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to invite anybody.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people I don’t know.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to be engaged in the experience.
I love the church BUT I’m not doing anything I don’t want to do.
I love the church BUT I’m not going to put in extra effort. That’s the pastors job.
I honestly believe we will never reach our full potential unless passion that leads to action is the dominant mentality of the majority. There is a term called critical mass. It basically means that once a significant portion of a group is on the same page then momentum, change and velocity is achievable.
You’ve got the right (ryyyee-eee-iii-eee-ite) to say no… to velleity.
I remember in elementary the teachers used to harp on us about staying in line. “No cutting!”, they would say. Apparently as adults we forget this timeless principle- especially at Starbucks.
I rarely get cut off, but when I do… It’s at Starbucks. Folks are just a little antsy before they get there first cup of joe, I suppose. This morning a lady cut me off to get in the drive thru for her Venti Triple Soy Latte with Extra Whip Cream. Of course, I was frustrated. I started making judgments as to what type of person she was. Selfish, rude, prima donna, you know, the usual.
After being in line behind her for a few minutes, I finally made it to the window to pay for my drink. To my surprise, and chagrin, the evil lady in front of me had already paid for my drink. While I don’t think you can cover up being rude by bribing me with coffee (although it’s a pretty good start), I was impressed that she was willing to, in a way, admit her wrong and try to make amends with a complete stranger.
I think the moral to the story is clear. We all make mistakes. All we can do is try to make it right in some way. Go buy somebody a cup of coffee, just try not to cut them off first.
Being wrong stinks. I would know, as I spend much time in Wronglandia. The same goes for coming up short, failing or goofing up. Many names, but you get the idea.
One of my favorite basketball players gives me some insight as to how to respond to being wrong. When you mess up, come up short, or just plain blow it the greatest step in moving past the ordeal is to admit your fault and own it. Easy to say, right?
The aforementioned basketball player (I’ll leave him nameless to avoid endless disputes about who is the greatest of all time, this generation, etc) recently had a game in which he was significantly deficient. He made some bad plays that could have cost his team the game. Fortunately, for me anyways, the team pulled together and squeaked out the victory. In his post-game interview the first thing he did was admit his wrongs. I like that.
I know I can learn something from his humility. Rather than throwing other people under the bus, even if they deserve it, I can own my part of the problem. Instead of playing it off as if it isn’t that big of a deal I could confront it so that all the people involved can truly move on from the situation.
Just my two cents. However, I suspect that I’m not the only frequent visitor to Wronglandia, and the best mode of transportation out seems to be laying down your pride, licking your wounds and getting over it.
I know we have all likely had the pleasure, if that’s what you want to call it, of being griped at by our GPS for missing a turn or taking a wrong one. That obnoxious, “I’m smarter than you” voice makes me cringe sometimes.
On a much lighter note… the GPS has two basic ways of guiding you to your destination. You can listen to the British butler tell you where to go, or you can follow the signs and arrows that pop up on the screen, or a combination of the two.
It got me to thinking about how many of the people I know are always trying to figure out God’s plan for their life. Wouldn’t life just be easier if He gave us an audible, “Turn left ahead.”? But, as far as I can tell, that isn’t how it works for most people. At least not for me. I hear voices, but I’m pretty sure they’re not God’s. That is another topic for another blog.
The point is this. We still have another way of getting to the destination and purposes that He has for us. Just like the GPS, our life has signs and arrows that will lead us down the right path if we are attentive. Most of the time that comes in the form of a person, a conversation, or some unexplainable “coincidence”. Keep following those directional signs and you will get to where you are supposed to be. No need to recompute.