Monday, May 14, 2012

Simple, yes, but not easy...

My Mother's Day gift to myself was a new book:  It's (not that) Complicated:  How to Relate to Boys in a Healthy, Sane and Biblical Way by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.  This is a book about boy-girl relationships.  A purity book, if you will.  This may not seem like much of a gift for Mom, but it is.  I have a great desire to understand this issue.  I didn't get it when I was a young adult.  Nowadays, my kids come to ME for counsel.  I have more experience, and yet I flounder.

The girls and I have become connoisseurs of purity books.  I used to think if we were raising our kids right we would not need all the "purity paraphernalia".  I still don't think we need 'all' of it, but we get confused and allow appetites to lead.  Keeping to a biblical path is tough!  

I won't list all the books we have read but this book seems to be one of the best.  (This is a book for girls.  I do not have a recommendation for a boy book.)  I am only halfway through it.  This is because in the last twenty-four hours or so, in between church and Mother's Day activities, both of my older daughters read it cover-to-cover!  I was surprised at how quickly they inhaled it.  It is a long book! 

I appreciate the clear intelligence voice of the authors, two single girls, sisters in their early twenties.  This is a thoughtful, meaty read.

A quote:

We both walked into this boy-conscious season of life with our fair share of questions, anxieties, and confusions about relationships with boys.  How-- or rather who-- to be around boys was a big issue for us.  After hearing stories and questions from hundreds of young women around the world since then, we've come to realize that this is possibly THE big issue for young women.  In fact, we've come to believe that, most often, this is the issue that reveals who a girl truly is.  Who or what is she living for?  What is important to her?  What is her compelling desire?

(emphasis original)

The gist of their message is to focus on Christ and how He sees people.  These authors walk the fine line of encouraging girls without dismissing boys.  One chapter is entitled, "Boys are people, too!" with the subtitle, "Learning to See Boys the way God Sees Them".

Other chapter titles include:

*Why We're Interested in Boys
(and Why that is a Good Thing)
*Wounding Friend or Kissing Enemy?
(Reforming our Philosophy of Relationships)
*Slaying the Inner Vamp
(When the Female of the Species is Deadlier than the Male)
*That's Why You Have Parents
(How to Draw Strength, Wisdom and Protection from Your Father and Mother)
*Rules of Engagement
(Practical Tips on Interaction and Conversation)

(The entire table of contents as well as chapter excerpts available at this link.)

One valuable point they make is that flirting with boys and shunning boys are two sides of the same self-centered coin.  We had never thought of it that way before.

Did I mention it is a meaty read?  They reference Shakespeare several times in the first chapter.  This alone sold my kids.  They get tired of books that assume their main activities are texting and chatting on FB.  However, the title of the book is from a relationship status available on Facebook!  And there is another balancing act:  being in the world but not of the world.

I haven't finished reading yet, but I had to throw it out as a possibility for any other families treading the minefield of young adult friendships.

*Note:  As I've read further, I've noticed some references to absolute predestination.  Our family does not believe the Bible teaches that God predestinated events and actions of people, although He does providentially intervene in our lives.  We don't believe God ordained the specific men that our girls will marry (if they marry).  We do believe human choice (sinful or righteous), and even chance*, definitely influence events.  Without going too far into it, we believe the Bible (Romans 8 especially) teaches that God predestinated a people.  Not everything.  Oh, He knew what was going to happen.  But foreknowledge is different from omnipresence.  Foreknowledge implies an intimate knowledge, as in loving family relationship.  I may be explaining this badly.  But we do not believe in absolute predestination of all things, although we do believe God predestinated His people, whom He foreknew.

This takes away from the helpfulness of the book somewhat, but not too much.

*It seems to me that what we call "chance" is actually the consequences of past sin coming to bear upon us.  God does not always intervene.  Sometimes He uses a situation (caused by sinning sinners, which could be any one of us) to teach us that His grace is sufficient for us.  It may not be our sin, or even the sin of anyone we actually know, and it may be sin that took place hundreds or even thousands of years ago and is still reverberating... so it feels like chance.  Sort of like Chaos Theory.  I'm getting metaphysical here.  I could be wrong, but that's the way it seems to me.

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