What I Didn’t Know about Being in a Relationship

Being in love, in a relationship that honors God, is one of the greatest things a person can encounter in his or her short life this side of heaven. Admittedly, I wake up a little happier in the morning, as if something miraculous is waiting for me. There’s more pep in my step. The growth I have seen in my walk with the Lord has been incredible, as I have learned more about His character, and how to trust Him more wholly and deeply. But at one time, I was single.  And now, even as I am engaged, I wonder why there is so much anxiety among single people regarding their love lives.

We all know people who trade significant others every time they get an oil change or buy new shampoo,  the people who seem to think their lives would be complete if they could just find… the one. I have known some people to mope around their lives simply because they are single. And honestly, being at a college that is known for its “ring by spring” mentality doesn’t make that any easier, but the problem isn’t just taking place here. Its taking place in churches and schools and social groups everywhere. Its the idea that you are less of a person without a significant other.

I had a roommate once who was adamantly against dating, and for the life of me, I could never understand why she would limit herself, why she would insist on keeping what could be fun and healthy relationships at arm’s length. This is not an article about the benefits of kissing dating goodbye, or adopting the idea of a perfect courtship. Its not about playing the field to find just the right person for you. Honestly, I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, because it can vary from person to person. What I can tell you is what I wish I knew as a single person, and that I strongly believe that relationships should be treated with intention and a keen sense of reverence.

I went on dates, but never really seriously dated anyone in high school, and the only person I ever dated in college is now my fiancee. That being said, I wasted a lot of time chasing relationships — maybe not because of social pressure, but because I really did desire intimacy, and I assumed that dating was the only way to have it.

Now that I am in a committed relationship, I see the error in those thought patterns. I see so many of my peers hurting because they have bought into that lie that they are less if they are single. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with dating, but there’s a lot that goes into a relationship that I was unaware of before.

Here are some things I wish I knew back then:

1. Being in a relationship is hard work. Perhaps the problem with these revolving door relationships is that they lack perspective and purpose. We were created to be in relationships, not for our own happiness, but so that we can take on the image of Love itself. And believe me, there are definitely days when I don’t want to be all of those things that 1 Corinthians 13 says love is. I often have to ask for forgiveness, and offer it, when things go awry. I’m in prayer daily, asking God to help us communicate better, to strengthen us as we protect our purity, to give us patience when we’re frustrated.

2. Being single is just as much a gift as the longed for relationship. There is so much satisfaction in finding who you are as a single person. And believe it or not, there are just as many awesome opportunities for single people as there are for people who are in relationships. If you are single, take this time to celebrate yourself. Try new things, go new places. Don’t overthink things with the opposite sex or about yourself. Spend time with mixed company, free from the pressure to impress anyone. Also, spend time with people of your own gender who have qualities that you aspire to have in your own life or walk with God. Don’t limit yourself or waste what time you have now wishing for things to be different.

3. Being in a relationship doesn’t fix everything. You will still get pimples and have bad hair days. There will still be times when you may feel lonely or depressed. Being in a relationship is great, but only Christ can truly give life meaning and purpose. Finding your identity in him should always reign supreme to finding it in other people.

4. There is no formula for finding someone. Your husband or wife could end up being your roommate’s cousin’s best friend. He or she could be a friend from high school that you have totally lost touch with at this point. There is no way to tell when God will bring that person into your life. In the meantime, work on figuring out what it means to be someone who is worthy of that person’s affection.

5. Your husband or wife is totally worth the wait. Yes, being in a relationship is hard work. No, it doesn’t fix everything you view as being wrong in your life. But when God does choose to bring that person into your life, it is nothing short of amazing. You will see yourself assuming more and more the attributes of Christ as you seek to honor him first within that relationship. There’s nothing quite like the rewarding feeling you get from growing together with your best friend. And its so great to not have to take a lot of baggage from previous relationships into this. So for the sake of your husband or wife, take your time. Also, you are worth your husband or wife’s wait.

Do you have other advice about singleness or dating? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, or email us at talon@tfc.edu.

WIM Going to Trembly Bald for Spring Retreat

March first and second, Women’s Intentional Ministries is hosting their much anticipated Spring Retreat. This year, they are spending the night at Trembly Bald, and hearing Professor Joyce Griffin speak on finding our identity in Christ. Sign ups in the student center end on Friday, February 22, but ladies can still sign up by picking up a slip in the lobby of Grace Chapel and returning it to student development by February 27. The cost is only $5.

Members of WIM say that girls won’t want to miss out on hearing Griffin’s heart. President Carrie Lyman says “When we fellowship with other women, we get to share about our lives and what God has done in our lives. It’s so cool to me that God has a way of using things we’ve experienced to encourage others. It will be neat to see how God uses Ms. Griffin to challenge and encourage us and see how we can encourage and build each other up.”

The retreat is sure to be a time of good fellowship, worship, and discussion. For more information on the retreat or how you can serve alongside the WIM team, email wim@tfc.edu.

The Lonely Side of Social Networks

I will be the first to admit it: at times, I find myself scrolling through my extended network of friends or countless pages of pins only to reach the realization that my life feels exceedingly plain. The truth is, these websites, though designed to connect people, often leave us feeling disconnected, lonely, and even inferior at times. What’s worse, is that this cycle of comparison almost becomes addictive.

Engagement celebrations, missions trips, graduate school, awards, expanding families, covers of popular songs… this sea of excitement, talent, and opportunity can make it difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice, especially since  I can’t speak of any of those things being a part of my life at this point. Even the fiery debates that are constantly flooding my wall can made me feel dumb or uninformed. Countless studies have been done regarding this phenomenon, many of which have concluded that we think less of ourselves after only minutes of browsing through the profiles of others.

So what can we do about this growing problem? Here are some steps that you may find useful to combat the cycle of cyber comparison:

1. Unplug. Take some time away from the screen to focus on bettering yourself and others around you through activities that you enjoy. Start a weekly book club, make time to exercise, or look for opportunities to volunteer. Make a to-do list and focus on one thing at a time, perhaps using social media only as a reward for accomplishing other tasks. Without the constant attachment to keys and screens, you will feel more productive and less stressed.

2. Start a conversation with someone you view as successful. What is different about them? It could be beneficial to learn how they modulate their time and energy. Be supportive and respectful. Keep an open mind and look out for ways that you might be able to change your behavior in a way that is healthy for you.

3. Trigger alert. Be aware of the things that tend to make you feel low, and take back their power. Don’t stop to look at someone else’s engagement photos, travel blogs, or Youtube channel. If the debates make you agitated, try getting your news from a source outside of social media. Be intentional.

4. Know that everyone has weaknesses. I remember a time when someone told me they thought I had it all together. It was confusing and humbling to think that anyone could view me that way, given that I am so aware of my own shortcomings. No one is perfect. Social networking tends to be like resumé building in that we often only share the best about ourselves. I once heard someone say that it is as if we are  comparing our behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.

5. Find your identity in Christ. Scripture says that in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy. He came so that you could have an abundant life. Time spent wishing you were someone else is time lost to its intended purpose. You were created exactly as you are, with your unique story, in order to bring glory to the Lord.

6. If you need help, talk to someone. If find yourself growing increasingly anxious or depressed, talk to a friend, professor, or Barnabas leader. We also have a phenomenal team of counselors in health services. Don’t hesitate to reach for community and resources that are freely yours.

Thanksgiving as God’s Will

Let’s face it: we don’t always agree. But I think if we slowed down long enough to look at the big picture, we might find it in ourselves to agree that we have gotten a lot of things wrong. When we decided to claim our independence, our founding fathers said that the United States would be a place where we could fulfill our God-given destiny and right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When I consider what those words have come to mean, I am led to question whether the basis on which a nation was founded is really what God intended for us.

What is happiness, really? There are a lot of things that would make me happy, such as new electronics, a nicer wardrobe, the best car, et cetera. In general, I don’t think that there is necessarily anything wrong with having nice things, or with being happy. The thing is, though, happiness depends on what happens. When circumstances fail to ebb and flow the way we want them to, we find that not only are we not happy any longer, but we become ungrateful and rebellious. Is this really what the Lord wants for us? I must hazard a guess that a selfish sense of happiness is quite nearly the opposite of His desire and will. Instead, He requires that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, loving Him and our neighbors.  The Creator wills that we would become like Him. Catch this, friends: Scripture says that God’s will for us is that we would be thankful in all circumstances. Could it be that acting justly, loving mercy, walking humbly, exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control begins with thanksgiving? This is more than happiness.

If we look back to the Garden, we see that Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect harmony with each other and with the Father. They were told to be fruitful and multiply, encouraged to drink in and find fulfillment in everything that their Creator gave them. God made one lone tree off limits to the naked couple. As you can imagine, this may have been the origin of much curiosity and conversation between the two. What about this tree somehow separates us from God? The serpent Satan knew his only chance was to tap into this curiosity. He must have told Eve that God was holding out on her.  If he could pick the lock by compromising her gratitude, the door would swiftly open, allowing him to corrupt everything that had been created and declared good. This new lack of gratitude within Eve’s heart prompted her to partake, and lead her husband to partake. Thus, the Fall.

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus healing ten lepers in chapter eleven. It is difficult for me to imagine living in a state worse than leprosy. The disease was cause for casting out those it afflicted, the loss of family and livelihood, and ultimately, the loss of connection. The text says Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee when he was met by ten men who had fallen victim to leprosy. They asked Jesus to have mercy on them and heal their ailment, restoring their standing in their families, jobs, and society as a whole. Jesus told them to go to the temple to show themselves to the priests, who were responsible for declaring people to be clean or unclean, and on their way, they were healed. After this miracle, only one of the ten, a Samaritan no less, returned to express his gratitude to Jesus. I love that Scripture makes a point to tell us who this person was. If you do even a little bit of research, you will find that Samaritans were not part of God’s chosen people, nor did they have any claim to fellowship with God. Jesus, taking note of this, replies “has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” He then tells the man “your faith has made you well.” Other translations of Scripture say that he was restored, whole, saved. The one who was thankful was made whole. Could it be that simple?

In Romans, Paul writes that though humanity was aware of the presence of God, we did not glorify Him, nor were we thankful. Because of this lack of glorification and gratitude, Paul goes on to say that our thinking has become futile, and our foolish hearts were darkened. I have to wonder why Paul wouldn’t choose another virtuous characteristic above thankfulness. What is it about gratitude that proves to be the saving ingredient? What is it about ingratitude that proves to be so dangerous and destructive?

Back in the Garden, God gave Adam the task of continuing creation through naming the animals. Power might be defined as the ability to assign meaning. Since the beginning of time, humanity has had the ability to speak worth over God’s creation. When we are thankful for something, it means that we have placed a high value on it.

Perhaps a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, humility, and justice would not be possible without thanksgiving. If you do not recognize the worth of salvation, grace, mercy and the character of God, the likelihood that you will live and walk according to those gifts dramatically declines. If you’re finding it difficult to be thankful, look back to the place you were a year ago, three years ago, five years ago. Chances are you’ve grown a lot. You’ve made a lot of decisions about the course of your life; some of them good, and maybe some of them not so good.  If you are haunted by those bad decisions, please know that you have been declared more than a conqueror through Christ, whose blood was shed so you could experience the kingdom. If you’re struggling to figure out what God’s will is for your life, do not fret. It is revealed in the most simple of words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The Israelites didn’t build altars because God needed them. They built them to have a monument by which they could remember what the Lord had done for them. They built them as reminders to give thanks.

Yes, it is the will of God that we would give thanks. Bless the Lord in times of plenty and in times of want. This seed, this attitude of gratitude, will grow up. It will blossom and become fruitful. You will find that you are less anxious about God holding out or getting your story wrong when you trust that all things work together for good. Perhaps we Christians throw around that verse too often, subtracting words until it reads “all is good.” Maybe that response has made you bitter toward fellow believers. If this is the case, I pray that God would soften your heart once again; that the hard soil could be plowed and made fertile for His righteousness. Because all is grace.

Alumni Steve Johnson Remembers Flood

Sunday, November 6, 1977 1:30 am

“Get up!” “Get up, the roof is caving in!” I got out of bed and hurried to the door. When I looked into the hallway, two guys who lived in the basement came running up the stairwell. “What’s going on?”, I asked. “The basement is flooded. We barely got out,” they replied.

My story actually begins late in the afternoon on the day before. Coming back from town I pulled into my usual parking spot behind “B” wing of Forrest Hall. For some reason I had a feeling that there was something wrong and that I should park over by the lobby on “A” wing. I sat there for a moment with the engine running and thinking, “What could possibly go wrong?” I had parked there at least a hundred times before. The feeling persisted so I backed out and stopped. I thought, “I’m just being paranoid,” and pulled in again not knowing what would happen in a few hours.

It had been raining for about five straight days. The power had gone out that evening and with nothing else to do in a darkened dormitory the guys started to get rowdy. Suddenly the hall monitor came around the corner and yelled, “You guys are in big trouble. I’m going to start taking names!” So we all settled down and went to our rooms. My room was a hall monitor’s room on the third floor of “B” wing on the end across from the present student radio station. I just sat in my room with my flashlight a while before deciding to go to bed.

I awoke at 1:30 am to the sound of someone running down the hallway and pounding on the doors. “Get up!” “Get up, the roof is caving in!” he said. I hurried to the door and stepped into the hallway. The lights were back on and I saw two guys who lived in the basement run up the stairwell. “What’s going on?”, I asked. “The basement is flooded. We barely got out.”,they replied. I went over to the stairwell window and looked down on a river flowing right up against the dorm. Another student ran up beside me with a camera and started taking pictures. I went back to my room to get dressed. My neighbor came in and with a frightened expression asked, “What do I do?” He had lost relatives in a flood a few years earlier. I said,”Get dressed and head up to central campus (meaning the bell).” As I got dressed I could hear boulders, trees and cars slamming against “B” wing. When I felt the dorm shake a couple of times I said to myself, “Better hurry.” I grabbed my flashlight and just as I was about to leave I heard the sound of timbers breaking. I looked out the window and shined the light behind the dorm. In horrified fascination I watched as the Dean of Men’s house slowly twisted on it’s foundation and move downstream. I wondered if the Eby family that lived there was dead or alive. Then I ran down the now darkened hallway and headed for the bell.

The images I remember are like those from a bad dream. People gathered at the bell in the dark; flashlights shining in my eyes; the smell of gas from broken pipes. After a few minutes I walked into the lobby of LeTourneau Hall. It was packed with students who were sitting in the dark sobbing or staring into space. Occassionally one would stand up and pray or quote Scripture, but always to the sound of relentless crying. I got up and went back outside and sat on the wall next to the bell. I got the idea of going along the flood plain to look for survivors. A small group of us walked down to Residence Row. We helped pull a married student who was trying to climb out of the creek onto the road behind Fant Hall. Then we headed toward the area where the RV campsite is located. Debris was piled up so we had to carefully make our way so as to avoid stepping on any nails in the boards. I glanced up and noticed that the stars had come out. It had been raining for days and we had not seen the sun at all. We walked past the farm and stopped at the creek which runs below the hospital, because the bridge had been destroyed. On the other side about 100 yds. away we saw ambulances and spotlights set up. I remember medics pushing gurneys with sheet covered bodies and one of the fellows next to me saying,”Those people are dead.”

Next, we went to the hospital lobby. A group of women from Fant Hall was gathered there. A guy from Forrest Hall had led them there out of fear that Fant Hall would be damaged by the flood. The Academic Dean came in and said, “I have a list of names of the deceased.” The women began to cry, repeating the names as they were read.

I decided to go back to LeTourneau Hall as the sun was coming up. Several of the co-eds graciously offered their rooms to the guys from Forrest Hall to sleep since we had been up half the night. After sleeping for several hours I borrowed a blanket and decided to go look at the falls. I will never forget the sight of destruction in that little box canyon. Gone was the beautiful park and bridges built by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. It looked like a huge explosion had occurred. As I was looking around, Pat McGarvey and her roommate walked up. Pat had a very serious and thoughtful look. I learned later how God had spared her life.

After a few minutes I decided to go look for my car. I followed the creek hoping that somehow my car was not damaged, that it had merely floated out of the path of the flood. I did not have to walk far for there it was, upside down in the bend of the creek behind where the Ring music building once stood. As I looked at it I thought, “Well, I guess the Lord was telling me not to park behind the dorm.” There is a picture of my car upside down in the creek in the 1978 yearbook. You cannot see, but the roof is pressed up against the dash. Cars were scattered everywhere. A station wagon was leaning up against a tree with the back end pointed towards the sky.

There was a service in the old chapel later that day. In 1977 the entire student body could fit in there. As I recall, someone in the Administration was talking about how it was not the end for TFC and God would provide the means for recovery.

Finally, we were told to go home for two weeks so things could get cleaned up. That night was spent at the Georgia Baptist Assembly and in the morning I headed for home.

Steve Johnson
Former student TFC 1975-1979

Plugin by Social Author Bio