“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
for two and a half months this fall i was living out of hotels and making daily trips in and out of high schools. i saw a lot, heard a lot, and learned a lot–about students, people, the world of higher education and about life in general. so when thanksgiving rolled around, i was very excited to be back sleeping in my own bed every night and to be back on a college campus.
i sometimes feel like God placed me back in the college atmosphere–and not just any campus, specifically my alma mater–to give light to situations and cirucumstances that i refused to see or didn’t even realize existed while i was a student. things are so much clearer now than they were then. and i say this with a sense of reassurance that i have never been so sure i’m exactly where God wants me to be than where i’m living and working right now. why in this place at this time? i’m still not sure–that’s why God is God–if we knew everything there would be no reason to believe.
with all that said, i’ve been doing a lot of listening on campus, in restaurants, in coffee shops, etc. all around this college town. the majority of coversations i hear have a special tugging on my heart because i’m extremely passionate about the value of a relationship. and i’m not just talking guy-girl dating relationship–yes, dating relationships is part of that, but the value friendships. i’m the first to admit that i wasn’t the best at relationships or friendships in college because i don’t think i really understood their value and my priorities were out of wack. a lot has changed over the few years since i’ve graduated and if i can offer any tips, here’s what they are:
1. Respect yourself.
if we don’t respect ourselves, how or why should we expect others to treat us with respect? i think lack of respect in oneself may be due to not understanding what respect truly is. webster defines it as ‘admiring (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’ every person has been created with unique abilities and qualities. find those positive, unique attributes in your own character and start treating yourself like you deserve the best.
2. Set boundaries.
i’m not even sure i knew what the term boundary meant in regards to a relationship while i was in college. i did whatever i wanted whenever i wanted. with no one giving you rules to follow, you have free reign of all your decisions, which can be both scary and satisfying all at the same time. for me, it was always just temporary satisfaction. if no boundaries are set from the very beginning, it allows for one person to walk over the other and vice versa, which is never healthy for either person. and with every relationship there will be different boundaries. you might disclose information differently to one of your close friends than you would to someone in your family. it’s all part of setting boundaries on an individual basis. this has been something new for me, but i cannot even begin to tell you how i’ve been able to witness God work in the lives of my family and friends because i’ve learned how to set boundaries and stick with them. once boundaries are set, it’s essential to use self respect to protect and guard the relationship–and keep in mind that every relationship is a two way street. as i always say, it takes two to tango.
3. Verbalize expectations.
communication is KEY. i was the absolute worst of the worst communicators when it came to any kind of relationship in college. i wouldn’t call friends back, wouldn’t communicate any kinds of feelings, wouldn’t show up to events…i just didn’t care. in fact, my infamous statement throughout my college years was ‘whatever’. which i deem as rather appropriate because i really didn’t care about anything. when i found out who Jesus was, things began to change. as with boundaries, this whole verbalizing my expectations has changed many of my relationships. it’s only fair to both people involved to clearly communicate what’s expected out of one another and to be on the same page. we can’t expect people to change and it’s not our responsibility to make someone change–that’s why making clear expectations from the very beginning can dismiss problems that may arise later. i’ve also learned not to be afraid to voice your expectations, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes your or the other person feel. you will thank yourself later and that other person will hold you to a higher level of respect.
as with many of my single friends, we get asked the question ‘so why aren’t you dating anyone?’ quite frenquently. when i give the response ‘i’m waiting for Jesus to send him’ i get a lot of weird stares and that usually shuts them up pretty quickly. but i’m not saying that to shut anyone up. i’m saying that because that’s what i believe. in 1 John 5:14-15 it says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that is we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” clearly i’m still a work in progress, as all of us are. but through every season God reveals something that i haven’t seen and i’m standing confident that when i’m ready, He will send me the man that he made specifically for me.i’m not going out hunting for the perfect mate–i’d rather wait. and while waiting, i want to be sure i’m becoming more intimate with Christ each and everyday.