42 Comments

  1. Kristin Kraabel

    Amen sister! I remember this example well and the feeling like I didn’t have my whole heart to give to my husband or God. Then when I got divorced I still felt like that 9 year old girl so scared she had nothing left and promised to only love my children and God. Amazing how he has other plans and how he has such grace for us.
    I remember being taught to pray/love/write my future husband. I don’t want to do that to my girls, I want to teach them to pray/write/love God and the rest, well it will work itself out.
    Thank you for your great post.

    • I did the writing to my future husband thing too and it just perpetuated a fantastical view of men and marriage. He has never even read those letters. He tried but it was just too weird and awkward for him because I wasn’t really writing to him…I was writing to an imagined ideal.

  2. Aprille, I was raised on the very teachings/videos you speak of. And in college I learned how erroneaous they are. I became the “rebellious daughter” because I walked away from those unbiblical teachings. Oh, and by the way- the men who push those teachings? One of them never married and the other one has at least one divorced daughter (it was an arranged marriage). Case in point that this teaching isn’t foolproof. God leads people differently! So if we are going to force the Jewish culture on courtship, for goodness sake, let’s be Jewish in every other area of life! Great post!

    • Love this comment. I knew that you had a similar background and would get what I was talking about. The idea sounds so ridiculous now, but I swallowed it for so long!

  3. If God can create man out of dust, he can heal a wounded heart.

    After Adam and Eve took the fruit, God made them clothes. After Cain killed Abel, God protected him. Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who had murdered him. Our God is a merciful God. We are never too far from grace if we humble ourselves and ask for it!

  4. Carly Webster

    George Michael (Wham!) wrote that song in 1984. It was annoying then, too. And, oddly, it’s been “covered” over 400 times! I didn’t realize Taylor Swift did a version.

  5. Hey, Aprille. I’ve never heard it put with a construction paper heart, but another famous analogy is a piece of duct tape that ‘looses its sticky’ as it gets peeled off your first boyfriend to your second, etc. You are absolutely right. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it forgets that love multiplies, not shrinks, when it is given.

    Here’s to loving wholly, fully, and, yes, maybe even a bit recklessly…. 😉

  6. What a silly analogy, that construction heart one. It interferes with what G-d wants FOR us, the willingness TO love, without condition, without restraint….without obligation. Oh, but as one who believed she could guard her heart–the analogy feeds into the fear that promotes keeping secrets and holding on to bits so we won’t be ‘as devastated’ when it doesn’t work out.
    I get what the construction heart analogy is trying to encourage–THINK about the relationship, THINK about what you’re getting into…..love is a splendid thing but THINK. At least I hope that’s the message. Certainly it’s not ‘withhold love’…. (I can hope!)

    • Yes I think that it is imperative that young people not enter romantic relationships carelessly or without thought. Wisdom and seeking God is necessary. But even if there is wisdom and seeking God, sometimes things still won’t work out. And I think that young people need to know that that’s okay. There will always be pain and suffering even when we check all the boxes. Love will always hurt, even when you love the right person.

  7. Chrissy

    I love love LOVED this post! As you know, we all had so much pounded into our heads that has been damaging to us. I’m so thankful that as we all have “grown up” we have been able to be open to God showing us just how much we were all following “people”. I’m thankful that He has shown us HIS love and how much He wants to leads us individually and not be tied to “christian ideas”. His grace is greater and we all have grown so much since cutting the ties with those parts of our past. : )

    • Thank you for your sweet comments. My eyes are opened daily to so many damaging philosophies and teachings that for so long I have accepted completely! It’s been so freeing, and a little sad at the same time. I’m just so glad to be where we are now!

  8. Robin Jingjit

    I love this! I heard that paper heart story, too. Scare tactics like that work for a while, until you find yourself ‘damaged goods’ for holding someone’s hand.

    Those scare tactics undermine the gospel. Like there are some things that even God’s grace isn’t enough to fix.

    I love your blog. I will be reading from now on.

    • Thanks for your comment and for following me. “Scare tactic” really is what it is, although I’ve never thought about it in that light. So much about courtship and similar methodologies of getting into relationship are about scaring young people into not even interacting each other and just depending on their parents to find their mates. I’ve seen it happen time again, and personally it took me a long time to be able to even look at guys when I went to college. I had no self-confidence and lived in a lot of fear. I’m so glad I’m beyond a lot of that and happily married! That time in my life was so stressful!

  9. […] Aprille is a young wife and mother. She blogs at Beautiful In His Time, her personal chronicle of finding God’s beauty in the messes of her life: her marriage, her mothering, and her relationship with Him.  You can connect with her through her blog, on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  (The original version of this post appeared on Aprille’s blog in January 2013. Click here to read the post and accompanying discussion.) […]

    • Deb

      Aprille,
      I’m stumbling on this years after you wrote it. I’m so sorry you were raised to feel like this, “I wish I could travel back in time and talk to her, that girl sobbing over “giving her heart away to some guy who didn’t deserve it.” I wish I could tell her that it’s okay. That loving someone, even the wrong someone, is a normal part of life. The fact that it didn’t work out doesn’t mean that she’s damaged, or worthless, or has less to give to someone else.”
      I’m a mother of 4 ages 20-13 and have been raising my children to delay dating (compared to the rest of the world) and spend time in groups of friends, observing these friends, interacting, enjoying one another’s company, but not paring off into couples. I just sent this blog entry to my 20 year old daughter (who I showed the construction paper heart video to years ago) to ask her if we, her parents, ever gave her the impression there would be no hope for her if this first relationship of hers does not work out. If we did give that impression, we are missing the gospel entirely! For whom did Jesus come but for sinners who are broken-hearted many times in life?
      My question is then, what are you teaching your children instead? Certainly you aren’t endorsing tossing caution the wind, I know you aren’t. So, what have you found that is better, more Biblically accurate teaching about the subject?
      Thank you for sharing what you have learned.

      • Deb, thank you so much for your comment. I think you are an incredible humble – and wise – mother to ask your children their thoughts on things you taught them. That can go SUCH a long way in your relationship with them (even if that relationship is good).

        As for what I am teaching my children, I do not know. They are currently 6 and 1, so we have some time to figure it out. My husband and I both had a previous relationship – but for the most part, were each other’s “first” – we were both virgins on our wedding day. We both still hold to the belief that dating shouldn’t be just fun and shallow, but for responsible mate-seeking adults. However, I think I will make sure that they know that relationships do come with risk – ALL relationships. You cannot make someone love you. Sometimes life takes two people in different directions, and that’s okay. You can heal and move on, even from a broken relationship. (My husband and I are both living proof!)

        I also do not really believe there is ONE person they are destined to marry. I think God gives us a lot of freedom and choice in the decision-making process. As long as they marry girls who are trying to do the right thing in their life before God – and girls that will love them like we do – I think that we will be thrilled. I don’t pretend to know the answers or speak dogmatically on the subject. I just know there are pros and cons to many approaches, and no perfect way to “find” one’s mate.

  10. Aprille

    I just noticed this blog post when you made a comment on another blog critiquing Josh Harris’s teaching on emotional “purity.”

    I have a blog where I critique Josh Harris’s book:

    http://www.ikdg.wordpress.com
    “I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?”

    What I find really sad about those who promote this “alternative” to dating is that they are quick to point out the “defects” they see with dating but silent about the problems their “alternative” has caused. Even in Josh Harris’s own church he found there were problems and had to tell singles that it was OK to invite someone of the opposite sex for coffee or something.

    I remember when teaching came out against dating one of the arguments against dating was that it caused something along the lines of premature pairing off. IMO and from what I have seen courtship can cause people to prematurely pair off. You found in your experience the person you were in a courtship with wasn’t a good match and stopped it.

    One thing I don’t understand with courtship is that how are you suppose to get to know someone and determine if they might be a good match w/o spending some time with them. If the only way you can do that is entering into a courtship then especially the young man has to go through a lot of “hoops” to do that just to get to know someone. How many times can one do that.

    Steve

  11. Aprille,

    I love this post. So freeing. Even today, I remember weeping years ago because I felt not good enough for my husband because of things I’d done in my past. Only the example used in my case wasn’t as nice as a red paper heart. It was a candy bar. And the “teaching” I was hearing went something like this: every time you “give yourself away” to someone, it’s like letting them tear the wrapper and take a lick or a bite. And who wants a “used” candy bar? So, save yourself for your husband. Well, that’s all nice if you stay “pure” but if you sin and fall, what then? Ahh….grace, grace, marvelous grace….where would we be without it?

    Thank you so much for sharing. You are inspiring me to blog my own story. 🙂

    • Wow. I’ve heard many illustrations but that’s a new one for me. So shame-inducing. I’m sorry you had to go through that! And I’m thankful you have found grace!

  12. stoopingformanna

    Amen! This is such a powerful and much-needed message…especially for teenage girls (boys, too). Thank you for sharing your story and your gift of writing here. I’m going to share this with my teens now. Great post!

  13. […] “I don’t understand what you do with your guy friends. Talk about the weather? Talk about shoes? Every guy you talk to is just in love with you. Believe me, it doesn’t take much for guys to flip a switch and fall for you. You’re different from the others, Susan. You’re prettier and better and purer than other girls, and when some girls are only liked by a few guys, every guy you talk to is basically in love with you. You have to guard yourself, and guard them too. Remember that every time someone has romantic feelings for someone, they give a piece of their heart away.” […]

  14. Gsusfreak4evr

    Thank you so much for sharing this! My best friend made some poor relationship choices and have often wondered if that heart analogy is true. But you are so right. Grace is the key. He is a whole person and can love fully through Jesus forgiveness, mercy and grace. Thank you for sharing!

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