Expressions of faith: While you wait

Patti Nicole Wheeler

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is His good, pleasing and perfect will,” Romans 12:1-2.

This is a quick guide for young people saving their bodies for their marriage bed. This is for single Christians who are waiting for God to send them their life-mates. This is also for single Christians who have set aside themselves, rededicating their lives to the will of God.

First things first:
1) Know your triggers – Be totally honest with yourself and recognize what gets your engine going.
• Is it being alone with someone?
• Is it how close you are to someone?
• Is it certain times of the day?
• Is it particular places in the house?
• Is it certain areas on your body?
• Is it his aftershave or her perfume?
• Is it particular movies or music?

2) Establish your boundaries – Once you realize your triggers, then establish clear boundaries for yourself and those who choose to be around you. Please do not compare your boundaries to other people’s boundaries. Everyone needs affection and nurturing. Touch is love. Decide how you will touch and how you will be touched. For example:
• If you desire to kiss, decide what type and how long it will last. Choose a location that doesn’t make it difficult for you to stop, i.e., at the front door.
• If you give or receive a massage, designate areas of your body that will not lead to a sexual encounter, i.e., hands, shoulders, feet.
• If you choose to dance, find some styles that are fun but don’t simulate sex.

3) Design your dating guidelines.
• Some folks may only be able to have daytime gatherings because evening activities are too tempting.
• Some folks may be able to have evening gatherings but only in public places.
• I know of a lady who was able to have a romantic dinner with her fiancé at her home but they didn’t venture anywhere near the bedroom.
• Some work schedules may only allow folks to gather in the evening so, having a ‘hang-out cut-off’ time will probably work for them.

4) Choose your partner and your friends carefully – There are those who just want to see if you are for real and will desire to get you off track. Be steadfast and pray God’s guidance in choosing friends.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Now to the good stuff.
There is a world of activities to be experienced when spending time with someone special or with friends. There are exciting physical activities, intellectually stimulating activities, and enriching intimate activities that may help you to grow in your friendships/relationships but still maintain your established sexual boundaries. For example:

• Hike and picnic – Take a nature walk or hike up a small mountain and have lunch at the top.

• Lakeside picnic with music – Each of you would bring items to eat but don’t tell the other person what they are. This way each of you can see who has been paying attention to the other person’s tastes in food from when you have eaten together previously.

• Volunteer/outreach – Talk about what social causes/issues that are important to you and decide on a pet project that you two will do together.

• Take a dance class – Learn different partner-styled dances that don’t require you to be pressed up against each other, such as Chicago-styled Stepping. Maybe on your wedding day, you can demonstrate some of your ‘fancy foot work.’

• Take a trip downtown – Park your cars and ride the bus/share-ride downtown to walk around and see the sights.

• Walk hand-in-hand – The autumn months are a very romantic time for this because of the multi-colored leaves falling in the warm breeze.

• Release your inner child – Try laser tag, bumper cars, skating, arcade games, mini golf, video games, escape games.

• Movie night – Go out with a group of like-minded friends or host a movie party at home.

• Game night – Try board games, charades, card games.

• Prepare meals together – Together you will plan, shop, prepare, dine, and clean up afterwards.

• Creative activities
a) Make jewelry – Go to a bead shop or craft store and make jewelry for each other based upon how you envision that person.
b) Play dress-up – Go to costume shops and take pictures of the different characters you create.
c) Paint or sculpt – Go to a gallery that teaches you how to create your own artwork.
d) Write poetry– Listen to different types of music and write poetry based upon how the music makes you feel.

• Physical activities – Try fishing, bowling, jogging, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, bike riding, billiards, rollerblading, flying kites, amusement parks, walking through a cornfield maze.

• Intellectual activities – Tour a museum, visit an aquarium or zoo, and view an art gallery/exhibit.

• Cultural activities – Attend cultural festivals, explore various restaurants providing food from different countries, experience outdoor concerts.

• Spiritual activities – Attend worship services, Bible study, spiritual conferences, gospel concerts. Have in depth discussions about your beliefs without judgment or criticism.

• Emotional activities
a) Be a good listener.
b) Understand that nobody is perfect and nobody is correct all the time.
c) Develop a forgiving spirit.
d) Have a loving heart.
e) Be patient with your partner, your friends and with yourself. If mistakes are made, learn from them and move on.

• Turn off the TV/texting, and talk – Read a book together. Take turns reading a passage or a page and share your thoughts, without judgment, about what you read.

I pray that you all will find this helpful in your efforts of developing Christ-like friendships and relationships. Until the appointed time that God sees fit to provide you with a spiritual life partner, you can still have fun—while you wait.

(Min. Patti Nicole Wheeler is a Licensed Associate Minister and the coordinator of TEAM LIVE! a teen suicide prevention program at Celebration Christian Center, 1215 9th Avenue N., Nashville, Tenn. 37208. She has a B.S. in psychology and M.Ed. in secondary school instruction.)