When Joy Seeps In

When Joy Seeps In

As Christians, we have access to something that sets us apart from all others: joy. I am not sure how to feel deep joy apart from knowing deep grace, the kind that Jesus made possible. That’s why I feel joy, the real kind, is reserved for believers.

I know joy is real, that it’s a thing we have access to through the Holy Spirit, when I’m feeling it at times that I shouldn’t. This hasn’t happened for me often in my life. Even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, grace and its byproduct joy are things I’m only beginning to understand. I guess it takes some of us a while.

So recently I have been “surprised by joy” at times I would typically have a meltdown or a pity party. I noticed it recently in my car. I had had a week in which I considered quitting dating altogether. I had been disappointed by a guy and a different guy a little before that. Though to me the experiences were dramatic and life-altering, if I were to write the details out for you, you would probably be bored (because in hindsight they aren’t quite so dramatic and life-altering). So I won’t. Just know that I was teetering on the edge as I climbed in my car to run an errand and by the time I got out of my car, I had been overwhelmed by a peace and joy that I could physically feel.

The cause had nothing to do with me or a change of circumstance. Suddenly, the weight that had landed on my chest a few days before was gone and my nerves and my breath went steady and my body felt calm and I felt happy in a strange way, in a joyous way. What a gift. The gift of literally feeling joy, even into your toes.

“Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice….Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51:8,12)

“The joy of your salvation.” I suppose when we feel this deep, real joy, we are being reminded of our salvation at a time when we need most to be reminded of it. Who we are in Christ, who we are without him. In this way, it makes sense I would feel joy in the face of rejection. And when the joy is as deep as it can be, the meltdown and the pity party just can’t happen. I try to default to them, because it has been my way for so long, but salvation stands guard and the joy overcomes.

What Is the Role of a Christian Woman: In Dating?

I started writing the answer to this post and before I could type a word, realized I had no idea what the answer was. So I polled women I knew and respected of various marital statuses. I asked them what they believed the role of a woman in dating is according to their experience and according to scripture. I love the richness and diversity of their responses:

Single/22 years old: The role of a Christian woman in dating is to be pursued. We are called as women to submit to the pursuit and leadership of men. Therefore, let’s let them do their job. We have a biblical call to wait, submit and be patient. Since this is a biblical instruction spoken by God, in that place we as women will have most peace. Straying away from that call (which could mean taking control, impatiently initiating yourself, etc.) can mislead, confuse or awaken love too soon.

Single, divorcee/34 years old (But that doesn’t define me! My blue eyes that have a slightly cynical outlook, my hips that are 2 sizes too big, sarcastic leanings and an extreme love for NCIS are what really defines me 😉 ): My role as a divorced single mom, I feel, is to seek healing, honest-to-goodness, soul-changing healing. This healing takes time, pain, time, trust in God, time, and patience…oh, and time. Then, I am to live my life…I mean live it. Do what I dreamed of, go on adventures, ask people all sorts of questions, reflect, seek and live! And then, always hope…hope in God and rest in His grace.

In a relationship/25 years old: I think I now have a much more refined and actually fairly simple view of the role of Christian women in dating, and it’s this: The role of a Christian woman in dating is, at it’s core, the same as that of a man: be prayerful, honest, open, and ultimately, be genuinely yourself. I think if we, as women, do those things, then the right men will join us in the right relationships by taking on that role as well. This is not to say that “being ourselves” means not being open to change and growth, but it just means that we don’t try to be someone we aren’t. It has been a struggle of mine before, which is perhaps why one of my favorites verses is Romans 12:9 – Love must be sincere.

Married/26 years old: To guard your heart, seek God’s will for the future of your relationship, be open to God’s leading (it doesn’t have to end in marriage), and build your significant other with love and respect. Keep in mind flashing red lights in dating can destroy a marriage. Marriage is the second most important decision in your life and you’ll want to listen closely and tread lightly before you head down the road. Marriage is the greatest blessing when you’re with the right person! Date with purpose and grow in the process.

Single/27 years old: The bible teaches that marriage is a picture of the gospel. It is to illustarte the pursuit of Christ to his church and in return her submission to his love and authority. While the bible doesn’t teach a lot about “dating” as we know (and love) it, I do believe that dating should be a preview of that picture of marriage. While we aren’t called to submit to the man we are dating as we are to our husbands, nor are we to engage in all the activites marriage allows, we still mimic those roles of Christ and the church to a certain degree. In dating the girl gets the chance to sit back and relax (if she can allow herself to see it that way). The man initiates and pursues her as God turns his heart to do so and the girl responds and affirms his pursuit. Plain and simple. One of my favorite things to see is a man of God who is pursuing a woman. That woman is freed and covered by his pursuit. She is freed to affirm his masculinity being manifested by his pursuit of her and in turn she is not put in a position to be solely vulnerable or manipulative to get his affections.