Is it just me or does there tend to be a certain lingo in the Christian culture when it comes to the topic of relationships? We throw around certain phrases, coating them with so-called faith, when really, oftentimes they are just rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of mistakes. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear that we don’t know enough about relationships.
Since I write and speak about the topic of relationships, I’ve had so many conversations and read so many emails that are loaded with these Christian-ese phrases that have lost their meaning along the way. Phrases that people often use, without really even knowing what it is they are trying to say.
It’s time to let go of some of these over-used phrases, and learn to communicate what’s really going on inside. Here are some Christian phrases I am ready to retire:
“I need to focus more on dating Jesus”. Since when was Jesus an eligible bachelor? Last time I checked, the Almighty was not up for grabs. One thing that bothers me about this phrase is that it assumes that relationships with people, and relationship with God cannot co-exist. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there are many times in life when God asks us to pull away from the distractions of the world and hone in on Him (whether single OR married), but it’s important to understand that Jesus can’t be your “significant other”, because His role is so much bigger, and greater, and deeper. If God is calling you to pull away and fix your eyes on Him, be obedient. But don’t use this phrase to stall commitment, or to mask your fears of relationships.
“I’m just waiting on God”. How many times do we use this phrase as an excuse to stay put, rather than moving forward in faith? Does it mean we twiddle our thumbs, praying 12 hours a day, memorizing scripture, all while waiting for something big to happen? I believe that more than anything, waiting on God is less about our actions, and more about the state of our heart. It is an internal acknowledgement that He knows, He cares, and He has a plan. It means resting in His sovereignty and grace. But it is NOT an excuse to live a passive life. Waiting on God doesn’t mean that we push the pause button on life, but rather, that we learn to take life step by step, with our internal anchor holding fast to His promises. It’s important to proactively pursue the things we want in life- as long as we’re always pursuing Him first.
“I’m guarding my heart”. And with that, you’ve just hear my least favorite phrase on earth. This phrase has been liberally tossed on every Christian relationship known to man, but what does it even mean? The problem is that no one really knows. It’s a beautiful portion of Scripture that has been hacked to fit whatever definition we want it to fit. What I believe we really should be saying is that we want to be deliberate about setting up emotional and physical boundaries in our relationships. I write about this extensively in Chapter 7 & 8 of True Love Dates (NOW ON SALE FOR 99 cents!!), because that is a concept that’s definitely worth talking about!
“I’m looking for a spiritual leader”. This one is dedicated to all the ladies out there. There are so many women who are hung up on this Christian-ese concept, not realizing that much of it is rooted in culture, rather than scripture. Far too many women are looking for a man to “lead” them into bible study and prayer, as the ultimate reflection of his faith. But the truth is, spiritual “headship” as defined by Scripture, and spiritual “leadership” are two very different things. The fruit of God’s Spirit at work in someone’s life is not a matter of simple devotions or ritualistic prayer, but instead it’s an overflow of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and grace. May we learn to define our relationships by nothing less than those things.
“God will open the door, or close it if it’s meant to be”. Sometimes I feel bad for God, because we blame Him for everything. Even with the gift of our free wills, our free minds, and our free spirits- oftentimes we walk into bad situations and blame God that He didn’t close the door. Does God close bad doors and open good doors? Sometimes. But oftentimes, He gives us the wisdom we need to make those choices for ourselves. He doesn’t force us into choosing door 1 by closing door 2- but He points us in the right direction, and leads us the right way with His voice, His spirit, and His love. Many times we ask God to close a door that we ALREADY know we should walk away from. And then we blame Him that He didn’t. It’s time to put this phrase to rest, realizing that God has given us everything we need to make good choices for our lives as we listen to His gentle voice.
Maybe it’s time to put these phrases to rest. Maybe, it’s time to stop hiding our fears behind the guise of Christian culture- and instead, faithfully step into the power of Christ as we live a life of love, led by His Spirit.
**Tweet to me @DebFileta: What other Christian-ese phrases do we need to retire ASAP?! #RIPChristianese
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!