In the last 48 hours I have had two different conversations with two different girls that were frighteningly similar to one another. In both situations, the young women–amazing, beautiful, smart, talented, godly women–were being pursued by men who were treating them terribly, but both girls were struggling to walk away from the situation. I pleaded with both of them to walk away, reminding them how wonderful they are and how they deserve so much better, but both responded to me with the same exact question: “But what if no one better comes along?”
For most young women, we don’t have a ton of guys banging down our doors, so in the rare event that a guy does come along, a guy that we are attracted to and enjoy spending time with, we don’t want to let him get away. Nevermind that he may not be where he should be spiritually, or that he doesn’t guard your purity, or that he doesn’t respect you as his sister in Christ–he’s cute and he’s funny, so you’ll take what you can get. Inherent in this mentality is the need to be realistic: “Sure, the Bible tells me I’m a precious daughter of God, and that I should only date guys who are going to treat me as such, but let’s be realistic–given my track record, what are the odds of that “perfect guy” coming along? And even if that guy existed, it’s not like he’d ever go for me.” It’s easy to see the holes in this line of argument when you’re not currenrtly interested in someone, but as soon as that cute guy in your sunday school class starts showing some interest, all logic gets thrown out the window. He’s a Christian, you’re a Christian, so nothing else matters. I’ve even done it myself! I’ve dated some real bozos, and rationalized it in some fairly impressive ways, but in the end it came down to the fact that they made me feel attractive, which didn’t happen all that often, so I reasoned that I might as well take what I could get, and have some fun in the mean time.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this behavior is that it is completely founded upon lies. There is no truth driving these thoughts processes. This is important to take note of, because we as women are frequently tempted to stand on the lies that our emotions are feeding us. For this reason we need to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (1 Cor. 10:5). Every thought that sets itself up against the truth of who we are in Christ needs to be quickly identified, and swiftly dismissed. This process begins by knowing what those lies might be, so here are just a few…
Lie #1: “I need to be realistic”–The idea here is that while my pastor and my Bible study leader and that book I’m reading all tell me that I’m “beautiful” and “precious” and yada yada yada, my experience has not proven those descriptions to be true. I don’t have guys knocking down my door to “adore my beauty.” It’s quite the opposite, in fact. So while Scripture may tell me one thing, I live in reality, and should therefore have realistic expectations. No solid Christian guy is out there who would want to date me, so I should simply adjust my standards a bit…… The problem with this thinking is that as soon as you call Scripture “unrealistic,” you call God a liar. You also accuse Him of being stupid–even though He created the world, He apparently has no idea what’s actually going on in it, otherwise He wouldn’t have given us such unrealistic expectations. Yes, that logic is as moronic as it sounds, but that is often the logic we live by. We allow this sinful world to be more determinative of truth than God, so the moment you find yourself tempted to be “realistic” and date the first fish that bites, remember that in doing so, you are pointing your finger in God’s face and accusing Him of either being incredibly deceitful, or just plain dumb. God is not unrealistic–we have simply let the world determine our reality, instead of God.
Lie #2: “I don’t deserve better”–I have to tell you that it absolutely breaks my heart to hear a young woman say this. The funny thing is, most of us look at women in bad relationships and say, “That will never happen to me! I will never stand for that.” And yet, at some time or another, most of us do. Why? Because we are so desperately insecure, and we are so desperately afraid of being alone for the rest of our lives, that the attention we receive, the feeling of being pretty and desirable, is worth being treated poorly for. The pay-off is worth the price. And don’t think you’re so strong as to avoid this kind of relationship, because it creeps up on you. When things first start out with a guy, you’ll only see his good side, so you gradually get addicted to his attention and his presence in your life. Eventually, very slowly, his bad sides will begin to come out, but because your confidence has become so dependent on him, you will be willing to put up with it. He may treat you like dirt, but he also says he loves you, and those words are enough to sustain you. My pastor calls this kind of behavior emotional prostitution, because we are accepting payment in return for letting guys use us. That payment comes in the form of emotional validation.
Lie #3: “But I know he really cares about me.”–Another reason why women will believe they deserve to be treated poorly is because they believe these men care about them. After all, this guy says he cares about you, which means he wouldn’t hurt you for no reason, so you must simply deserve it. Well let me offer a friendly reminder that abusive alcoholics “love” their wives, but they still abuse them. You need to remember that just because a guys says he loves you or cares about you, does not necessarily mean he does. Sometimes men will say those words simply to get what they want from you. When a man does this, his intention is not to care for you, but to use you. I know this is hard to imagine or understand, because a lot women attach a great deal of significance to words, and the concept of merely saying those things solely for the sake of using someone is quite foreign to us, but it’s reality. 1 John 3:18 reminds us, “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” If he says one things, but does another, then his words mean nothing. The difficulty here is that most of us so strongly desire to believe a guy’s words that it’s easy for us to look past the inconsistencies and believe him anyway, so it’s helpful to have someone holding you accountable, an objective person who can look at the situation and tell you it’s unhealthy. Otherwise, our insecurities will drive us to rationalize just about anything.
Lie #4: “He makes me feel attractive”–Some guys are total charmers. They know just what to say when. They make you feel attractive and feminine, and that is a nice feeling to have. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is atttracted to you as a person. Sometimes the attraction they feel for you is akin to the attraction guys feel when they look at pornography, and this is not an attraction based on real feelings. It is your body that they are after, not you. In order to determine whether the guy is sincere or not, look at what he says. First, if he makes remarks that are overtly sexual, then clearly his intentions are wrong. But in addition to that, if he makes gradiose statements about how wonderful you are, but he doesn’t even know you that well, then his attraction may not be not based on anything substantive. He’s likely not thinking with his brain. Granted, not all compliments from guys mean they are trying to us you, but don’t be naive either. Some men know just what to say to make a girl do what he wants, so don’t fall prey to those empty lines, even if they do make you go weak at the knees. Right away, recognize them for what they are–lies. I am personally very wary of guys who immediately start flirting with me as soon as we meet…even Christian guys. Why? Because they don’t know me. All I am is a face to them, and if that’s the main reason they’re attracted to me, then whatever they feel for me is not real. They may be attracted to some idea of me, but they’re not attraced to me. So be intentional about distinguishing infatuation from genuine feelings, and lust from healthy attraction. Feeling attractive is not always a good thing if it is based on a guy’s desire to use you.
Lie #5: “What if no one else comes along?”–This is perhaps the easiest lie to fall into because there’s no way of knowing whether or not you are meant to get married. I can’t tell these girls to stop worrying because God definitely has someone picked out for them down the road. He may not. But that doesn’t mean you should settle for some jerk in the mean time. Looking back on my past relationships, I wish I had stayed single. The damage done to my self-esteem was not worth the temporary fun that I had. Yes, it is hard being single, but it’s even harder being in a bad relationship or getting over a break-up. The reason I say this is that as long as you’re single, you can fight for your integrity, your self-worth, and your confidence. You can decide to be picky, and you can decide who is or is not good enough to date. When you’re single, it’s much easier to stand on what God tells you about yourself because there is no one in your life actively telling you that you fall short. But in a relationship, it’s much harder. You trust the person and care about them, so when they treat you badly, you believe it is a reflection of who you really are. It’s one thing to fight feelings of insecurity when you’re single, but quite another to fight insecurity when your boyfriend treats you like dirt. Soon you’ll believe that you are dirt. The truth of the matter is that lonely, insecure, single people make for lonely, insecure married people, so whatever feelings of incompleteness that you have will not be solved by a guy. Sure, you might feel giddy for awhile, but once those feelings subside, you’ll come back to the reality that all the things you didn’t like about yourself are still there. So instead of wasting your single years pining away after your Prince Charming, enjoy them! If you do get married one day, you’re going to look back on those years and kick yourself for wasting so much of your life on something that God had already taken care of. Or, if you don’t get married, you’llprobably still kick yourself–being miserable over something about which you have no control is pointless and adds up to a lifetime of misery. so don’t worry about tomorrow–you could meet Mr. Right tomorrow, or you might not, but neither possibility means you should miss out on today.
So those are just a few of the lies that women believe about themselves. And if you are tempted to believe any of them, don’t you dare try to rationalize that you are somehow the exception to the rule. I can just picture someone reading this and thinking, “I know she says that all women are beautiful and precious and should be loved well, but she doesn’t know me. My situation is different.” well let me be the first to say, YOUR SITUATION IS NOT DIFFERENT! When I say you are precious and valuable, that is not my opinon. that is a fact. We are all made in the image of God, and we should not take that reality lightly. You may not think that you deserve better, but God certainly does, so if nothing else, stand on that. We cannot stand by and let guys desecrate the image of God by treating us badly. No, there is no perfect guy out there in the sense that you won’t find a guy who never ever hurts you, but God wants more for us than being treated like an object. And more importantly, He wants more for Himself. So when a guy treats your poorly, it’s not merely your honor and integrity that is in jeopardy–it’s also God’s. If nothing else, that knowledge should be enough to make us fight for respect, since we are not merely fighting for ourselves, but for God’s glory. That is the truth we must stand on in the face of all these lies.