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Thursday, June 5, 2014

When God Agreed That a Crush Was Dangerous

Image source.

I remember this one time, back in college, when I had a crush on a particular guy.

And of course, every crush is either a sign from God that this is the one guy destined for me and we will get married and live happily forever, OR a sin that permanently damages my heart and I will regret forever. (According to purity culture.) So I prayed and prayed and prayed, asking God which one it was, telling him to completely take away the feelings if God didn't plan for me to marry this guy.

Through all the praying and interactions with the guy, I noticed that sometimes he was a little bit irresponsible. Ah... okay. He's not "the one." Darn. Because, you know, God certainly has someone better for me, someone without that flaw. God can do anything, if I only just trust him and wait. To pursue a guy who didn't appear to be perfect for me would mean I'm just following my fleshly desires, unwilling to wait and trust in God's perfect plan.

(Side note: No one outside of purity culture has ever used the word "fleshly." Or "wifely," for that matter.)

So yeah. Okay, this guy's not the one for me. Well, okay, but I still had a crush on him. So I prayed and prayed for God to take those feelings away. I was so worried that I might start to like the guy a little more, which would mean I was giving away an even larger part of my heart- thereby permanently damaging myself and my potential to have a happy marriage.

Soon after this, I happened to be at a meeting of a Christian group I was part of, and there was a speaker who gave a little "altar call" at the end of her talk. We all had the close our eyes and then, you know,  raise your hand if you want to commit your life to Jesus for the first time.

And then, she asked who is already a Christian but lately hasn't been as committed as they should be and would like to recommit their life to Jesus.

At that moment, I knew that if I raised my hand, the crush would be gone.

Actually the "recommit your life to Jesus" bit didn't exactly apply to me. I hadn't been wandering away from God or anything. It was just I had this stupid crush I couldn't shake, which was possibly eroding my heart away. And somehow I knew that if I raised my hand, God would take it away. Gone.

So I did. Raised my hand to recommit my life to Jesus or whatever.

And yes, after that, the feelings were gone. And I thanked God.

I was free. :)

Ummm, I was free for a couple days but then I was hanging out with another guy friend and was suddenly struck by how strong and kind he was and so then I had a crush on him for a couple months. Repeat the whole worried intense prayer and fearful guarding of my heart.

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I'm telling this story because I don't understand it. It's a true story, but when I lived it, I had a very different view on purity and God than I do now. And at that time, I saw it from that view, and it all made sense. I prayed for God to take away that dangerous crush, and then God told me that if I raised my hand, he would, so I made the choice that I'd rather be fully committed to God than enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin (ie the good feelings I get from liking a cute guy).

Yeah but now I don't believe any of that.

I no longer think crushes are dangerous things. I think they're normal. And God made us that way.

I no longer think every romantic moment is either a lovely piece of a lifelong happy marriage OR a horrible mistake that mars one's heart forever. I think maybe it could be just harmless. Or even good, but not good in a way that means you should marry that person.

I no longer think my little feelings of attraction have such massive spiritual importance.

I no longer think God wants us to fear and avoid sexual attraction.

I no longer think commitment to Jesus means not liking boys.

So this story makes no sense. I was all worried over and praying for things that weren't anything like the danger I imagined them to be. And then I just knew- God told me?- that if I raised my hand it would be gone, so I did and it was gone, like a little miracle.

Huh?

But that doesn't make any sense. Would God really do that? It seems like confirmation that God was on board with my whole purity belief system. But uh, no way, because the purity belief system makes no sense.

How? Where was God? Was it God who suddenly took the feelings away, or is there an explanation from psychology? (Do I even want to believe in "an explanation from psychology"? Back then I felt so close to God, and I miss that.)

And all those times I desperately prayed about cute guys, begging and begging God for a "yes" or a "no" ... was God just like, "what are you talking about"?

Image source.

I can only explain it as God being where I was and helping me in a way I could understand, even though I was wrong about so many things.

I don't know.

5 comments:

  1. The first "answer from psychology" which I thought of was Confirmation Bias. Then I decided to look up other such characteristics of decision making for a better one. Sadness. They have over a hundred.


    Aren't your feelings difficult enough to figure out without worrying that God is doing some remote-control manipulation of them? I know Obi-Wan told Luke, "Trust your feelings", yet they are some of the least trustworthy things available. They are affected by so many factors such as how much sleep you had, your hunger, thirst, hormones, fatigue... Must God be added to that list? How do you tell? How do you measure whether you are mad at your boyfriend because he said something mean, because you didn't sleep well last night, or because God is causing you to feel that way? What kind of God is that anyway Who is going to nudge your feelings like an ocean breeze? If God has something to say to you, shouldn't it be a little more clear than via emotional manipulation? What's that movie where Sam Jackson says, "English!!! Do you speak it???" When Christians get higher test scores because God whispers the answers, you won't be able to get near a church for all the people crowding the streets around it and packing it full to get a piece of that.

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  2. The way I see it is this: You specifically asked God to take away your feelings for this person. God answered that prayer. That doesn't mean "God agrees with everything about purity culture." It means you recognized that this particular person was not right for you but that you still had feelings for him, so you asked God to take away your feelings, and that worked. It doesn't have to mean more than that.

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  3. It makes sense that God would be able to be with us where we're at, regardless of the "accuracy" of what we believe. I'm sure we're all wrong about all sorts of things. The diversity of belief throughout the world and throughout time is beyond my imagination. If God only hears and responds to us once we have everything figured out exactly right, how could God be there for anyone?

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  4. Well, the way it looks to me is this (not that I know God's mind, but this has helped me make sense of my own foolishnesses from my cultic days). This was actually not something you needed to be upset or obsessing over, but the fact is that you were upset and obsessing. So the Holy Spirit kindly gave you relief, helping your faith to receive that help by letting it focus on a specific physical action as a turning point (I think baptism and communion work similarly to this). And that's all it was; not emotional manipulation or anything else. Just helping you when you asked to a state of rest-- because when we come to Him we find rest for our souls.

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  5. I know the feeling-- and it's been astonishing to me how little God seems to mind whether we're right or wrong in our thinking; it's more about whether we trust. And trust is easier when we're in a more childish stage of our faith. I think we can return to trust, though, as we continue on. Many people have been through the struggle and come out the other side.

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