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Friday, July 6, 2012

First-Year University: Friends, Reflections

After my first-year encounters with guys, I was not as distressed as David was when he wrote this Psalm but almost:

“And in my dismay I said, ‘All men are liars.’” (Psalm 116: 11 NIV, 1984)

I know this is a gross exaggeration; but, what can I say, I was 18! As I matured a bit, I began to look at my part in the unjust scenarios that played out during that first year. How had I found myself there in the first place?

Beginning at the end and working forward, then, let’s take a look at each situation: Guys and Surprises: “Being engaged” but never suspecting it. (This story actually begins with this link: First-Year University: Foresters Ball, if you want the total picture.) I had been teased, as had all females going to college or universities following high school, that a girl was only interested in a “Mrs.” degree… in other words, finding a husband was the goal. Since I wanted an education first, it didn’t enter my mind that the guys were doing that same thing… looking for their Mrs. Boy, was I naive! I was very comfortable with John Mark and behaved very naturally with him… well, naturally in the sense of a fraternal friend or sister, that is. John Mark interpreted my playful, friendly behavior as being interested in him as a husband. This had been unintentionally deceptive on my part as I was not at all looking down that road.

Yes, it would have been a lot smarter of John Mark to, at least, address the subject with me before he “announced” it to his family as a done deal and invited them to meet me. So why didn’t he? Was he that sure of the relationship? Or, was this just a risky manipulation maneuver to get me to commit to marrying him? You know, she can’t say no in front of the whole family, can she? Of course, she will be surprised and thrilled. Well, I was, definitely, surprised but totally not thrilled. The event marked the end of the engagement John Mark had envisioned.

The issue of Chris was a “horse of a different color” but the reason it happened was the same. (That story is found in the link First-Year University: Guys.) He wasn’t as heartless as one might have thought, however, as he had mentioned the dance to his mother, at least. Had he no conscience about standing me up, he never would have let his mother know he was doing it. I reckoned that he already knew his mother would call me so I wouldn’t be all dressed up with no date coming to take me to the Ball. So, what happened? Is the guy a real jerk?  I think he was a real coward but, when one has a negative experience, I believe that one should take a look at what part he or she might have played. For my part, then, I did not take into consideration that Chris really was not as excited as I was to get all dressed up for a formal dance. Nevertheless, I was going to get him to take me. Did I know he didn’t want to go? Yes, I did but he had agreed to go so I just figured he would feel differently once we were at the dance. Wrong!

For both of these painful situations, I had not tuned into the guy’s feelings or perceptions accurately. I had my own agenda. In both, communication was lacking, big time. Why? What is it that so often keeps us from being honest with one another in our relationships?

In the situation with the off-campus party, the guys at the party were numerous and, truly, had only one thing on their minds… a lasting relationship was not it! (The story is found in the link: First-Year University: Mistake and Rescue.) How had I found myself in that situation? Communication was not the issue here but the fear of what my friend might think of me if I refused to go was. God, indeed, delivered me out of what could have been a seriously bad situation. I was not as easily swayed to do what I knew was the wrong thing in order to please someone else, following my rescue. Why didn’t I stand up for what I thought was right and, in fact, what I really wanted to do all along?

In all three of these scenarios, the foundational element was fear. In each case, the reason for the control fear exhibited over the individuals was pride. In every case, the antidote to the poison fear brings to us is humility. If we would just humble ourselves and speak the truth, such situations would not produce so much pain in our lives. Fortunately, our loving Father God understands just how hard that is for us. Pride was the sin that brought down the angel charged with leading the worship in Heaven. It is just as destructive on planet earth. I know that God is interested in helping us overcome pride in every aspect of our lives and He will help us live a life of humility. The Bible says,

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Bottom Line: God will help us do the right thing; just ask Him to help destroy that ugly pride by practicing humility!

In each of the above situations, I came away with new understanding of what I could do to prevent a recurrence, of course; but, also, I found I had even benefited from having lived the experience. A verse I often bring to mind when facing difficult circumstances, especially when I don’t see any way of rescue, is found in Romans 8:

Verse 28: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (NLT)

Whatever we are going through right now, God is aware of the situation. God has a plan and will help us out of it or take us through it. Both are for our eternal good. Focusing our attention on clearing up any issues of pride in our situations can be a great beginning on the road to victory. God is willing and able to help us learn to humble ourselves and, I have found, provides quite a number of experiences for us to practice this truth!

****Have a great weekend!

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