girltalk Blog

Aug 28

Q&A: How Can I Be “Just Friends” with Guys?

2013 at 7:41 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Purity | Q&A

Q. I am 18 years old and would like to know how to be “just friends” with the guys in our church, but don’t know how. Can you give me any advice?

A. It wasn’t so long ago that I was navigating my way through the teen years and into early adulthood. One issue always lurking in the shadows was “friendships with guys.” How do these relationships look different from those with my girlfriends? How much time do I spend with them? Is it okay to hang out one on one or talk on the phone?

I always wished for a simple set of rules—a little list of “do’s and dont’s” that I could carry around in my pocket. These rules would guarantee that I would no longer have to worry about that little conscience of mine. However, I learned early on that this one was a wisdom issue, and that Scripture was the primary source for that wisdom.

In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul tells Timothy that he should, “Treat…younger women like sisters, in all purity.” Now if the guys are going to treat us as “sisters in all purity,” then we in turn must act like sisters, in purity! Here in this verse is wisdom we so desperately need. We must ask ourselves—do I treat my guy friends as I would my own brother? Am I walking in absolute purity toward all young men?

For myself, I realized that my heart often had many competing motives at work in my relationships with guys. Instead of thinking and acting like a sister, I sometimes found myself wanting attention from a particular guy. I also wanted other girls to think I had a sufficient number of guys that called me “friend.” Often, the motives behind my relationships with guys were not pure, or God-honoring.

That is why it was so helpful that my mom and I kept a running dialogue on this issue. We didn’t have some kind of formal debriefing once a week, but talking about my guy friends was a regular part of our lives. These conversations were most critical for me in the accountability that they provided and the counsel that my mom brought. For those of you who may not have a godly mom, I would encourage you to have these types of conversations with another older, wiser, woman in your church. We aren’t called to live the Christian life alone. We need the help, encouragement, and counsel of others.

I also quickly learned that my friendships with guys needed to look quite different than my friendships with girls. I recall one pastor telling me: “Janelle, guys read into things just as much as girls do. When a girl shows consistent attention to one guy, it can cultivate affection in that guy’s heart.” While I may have been considering my guy friends as brothers, they may have been thinking that there was something more. That’s why my mom always exhorted me to relate to all guys as “another woman’s husband.” This little phrase was a very helpful heart-check when it came to relating to my guy friends.

All of this said, friendships with guys are not wrong. In fact I would argue that as a single woman, friendships with godly, mature young men who are committed to purity are a gift from the Lord. Paul is obviously assuming that Timothy will relate to other young women in the church, but he makes clear what those relationships ought to look like. As one of three girls (until my favoritist little brother arrived on the scene 12 yrs. after me) I’m very grateful for the guys that were my “brothers” during those years. If we pursue the biblical principles of purity and brotherly love, we can enjoy godly friendships with godly guys as blessings from our heavenly Father.

~from the archives


Feb 21

Q&A: Guy Friends

2011 at 2:58 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Purity | Q&A

Q. I am 18 years old and would like to know how to be “just friends” with the guys in our church, but don’t know how. Can you give me any advice? A. It wasn’t so long ago now that I was navigating my way through the teen years and into early adulthood. One issue always lurking in the shadows was “friendships with guys.” How do these relationships look different from those with my girlfriends? How much time do I spend with them? Is it okay to hang out one on one or talk on the phone? I always wished for a simple set of rules—just a little list of “do’s and dont’s” that I could carry around in my pocket. These rules would guarantee me success, and I would no longer have to worry about that little conscience of mine. However, I learned early on that this one was a wisdom issue, and that Scripture was the primary source for that wisdom. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul tells Timothy that he should, “Treat…younger women like sisters, in all purity.” Now if the guys are going to treat us as “sisters in all purity,” then we in turn must act like sisters, in purity! Here in this verse is the wisdom we so desperately need. We must ask ourselves—do I treat my guy friends as I would my own brother? Am I walking in absolute purity toward all young men? For myself, I realized that my heart often had many competing motives at work in my relationships with guys. Instead of thinking and acting like a sister, I sometimes found myself wanting the attention of a particular guy. I also wanted other girls to think I had a sufficient number of guys that called me “friend.” Often times, the motives behind my relationships with guys were not God-honoring. That is why it was so helpful that my mom and I kept a running dialogue on this issue. We didn’t have some kind of formal debriefing once a week, but talking about my guy friends was a regular part of our lives. These conversations were most critical for me in the accountability that they provided and the counsel that my mom brought. For those of you who may not have a godly mom, I would encourage you to have these types of conversations with another older, wiser, woman in your church. As Mom said last week, we aren’t called to live the Christian life alone. We need the help, encouragement, and counsel of others. I also quickly learned that my friendships with guys needed to look quite different than my friendships with girls. I recall a conversation that I once had with my singles pastor. He told me, “Janelle, guys read into things just as much as girls do. When a girl shows consistent attention to one guy, it can cultivate affection in that guy’s heart.” While I may have been considering my guy friends as brothers, they may have been thinking that there was something more. I remember my mom telling me to relate to all guys as “another woman’s husband.” I found this little phrase to be a very helpful heart-check in relating to my guy friends. All of this said, friendships with guys are not wrong. In fact I would argue that friendships with godly young men during these years are a gift from the Lord and something to be enjoyed. Paul is obviously assuming that Timothy will relate to other young women in the church, but he makes clear what those relationships ought to look like. As one of three girls (until my favoritist little brother arrived on the scene 12 yrs. after me) I’m very grateful for the guys that were my “brothers” during those years. If we pursue the biblical principles of purity and brotherly love, we can be free to enjoy godly friendships with godly guys as blessings from our heavenly Father. —from the archives

Aug 11

Q&A - Disappointed Hope

2010 at 3:24 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

Q. “I am curious what you ladies might have to say on the topic of dealing with the grief that comes from the ending of a relationship, particularly when a woman believed it would end in marriage.”

A. This question immediately brought back memories of a similar season that I experienced in my relationship with Mike. Although the Lord ultimately planned marriage for us, there was a period of time when it appeared our relationship was over for good. And while I realize that not all stories have the same ending, the issues God was after in my heart are the same for all of us—whether or not we eventually get married, and regardless of the nature of our disappointed hope.

When Mike and I ended our relationship, it was after many months of mutual feelings, and much time spent pursuing marriage. Before the decision to call things off, we would both have been pretty confident marriage to each other was in our future (Read the long version of our story here.) So, upon ending our relationship, I was immediately faced with the temptation to despair. What was God doing? Why was I so confused? I thought Mike was the one! The tears were many, just ask my mom.

This decision marked the beginning of one of the biggest battles I had yet to face in my walk with the Lord. The fight for FAITH. Did I really believe what I had been taught from Scripture about God’s sovereignty? Did I trust God that He had a perfect plan for my life? Was I confident that He would reveal His will to me, in His good time? Could I be happy if His plan didn’t include marriage? I’m sorry to say that my answer to many of these questions was often a resounding “no.” I thought that my ideas and plans were best. If only the Lord would speak more clearly. If only He would do it this way—MY way.

How grateful I am for the mercy of God upon my life during this struggle. Through the leadership of my parents, I began to press into God’s Word in a most intense way. I spent hours studying “faith” and “sovereignty” in the Bible, and talking through the issues of sin in my heart with others. The book Is God Really in Control? (previously entitled Trusting God) by Jerry Bridges became a faithful friend to me. I read this book over and over again. Quotes like these fed my soul…

“God in His infinite wisdom knows exactly what adversity we need to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son. He not only knows what we need but when we need it and how best to bring it to pass in our lives. He is the perfect teacher or coach. His discipline is always exactly suited for our needs. He never over trains us by allowing too much adversity in our lives.” Page 122

“If we are to experience peace in our souls in times of adversity, we must come to the place where we truly believe that God’s ways are simply beyond us and stop asking Him “why” or even trying to determine it ourselves. This may seem like an intellectual “cop out,” a refusal to deal with the really tough issues of life. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is a surrender to the truth about God and our circumstances as it is revealed to us by God Himself in His inspired Word.” Page 126-7

Slowly, I cannot tell you exactly when, my heart began to change. I still didn’t know if marriage was in my future, but my heart was at peace in the sovereignty of my good and loving Father. I wanted His perfect plan to be fulfilled in my life.

If you find yourself in a similar situation today (and this fight for faith is certainly not limited to the arena of marriage), I would encourage you to take drastic action. Renew your mind with the consistent study of God’s Word. Purchase Jerry Bridges’ book and pursue the counsel and help of a pastor and godly friends. Grace awaits you!

“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

—from the archives

Apr 15

On Relationships

2008 at 3:58 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Singleness | Relationship Advice

Thumbdisplay_2 Every week here at girltalk we receive emails from single women who have questions about relationships with guys. How do I know if this is the guy I should marry? What do I do about my feelings for a guy when he hasn’t expressed any interest? How do I deal with a broken heart? What if my parent’s don’t approve of my relationship? How do I wait patiently for God to bring the right one for me? What if the right one never comes?

Many of these difficult questions require on-site advice from pastors and friends. However, on the Na blog today, Erin Sutherland shares how a little girl reminded her of God’s answer to all relationship questions—and indeed, to all of life’s questions. Be sure to check it out.

Apr 6

Q & A - Different Stages of Courtship

2006 at 1:59 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

Since last week’s Q&A discussion on the ending of a courtship, I have had a few conversations that were too good not to post.

Both were with moms who had daughters involved in relationships. The first mom had just walked her daughter through ending her relationship. As I inquired about how they were doing, she expressed gratitude for how the young man responded to her daughter in this decision. He told her that their courtship had been nothing but a success. Why? Because they had both grown in godliness. This young man had the wisdom and foresight to see that a successful relationship is not one that necessarily ends in marriage, but one where the couple grows in faith and love for the Savior.

The second mom has a daughter who is two weeks into her courtship. Everything is new and unknown. This mom told me that she and her husband were excited about this relationship because of what the Lord is doing in the hearts of their daughter and this young man in the process.

These moms see something much more significant than a relationship. They observe God at work in the hearts of their daughters. They are grateful that their daughters are growing in godliness. This is an eternal and God-honoring perspective.

So, whether you are presently exploring marriage or have recently ended a courtship, may this biblical view of relationships permeate your thinking and fill your heart with faith.

Mar 29

Q&A - Disappointed Hope

2006 at 6:10 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

Q. “I am curious what you ladies might have to say on the topic of dealing with the grief that comes from the ending of a relationship, particularly when a woman believed it would end in marriage.”

A. This question immediately brought back memories of a similar season that I experienced in my relationship with Mike. Although the Lord ultimately planned marriage for us, there was a period of time when it appeared our relationship was over for good. And while I realize that not all stories have the same ending, the issues God was after in my heart are the same for all of us—whether or not we eventually get married, and regardless of the nature of our disappointed hope.

When Mike and I ended our relationship, it was after many months of mutual feelings, and much time spent pursuing marriage. Before the decision to call things off, we would both have been pretty confident marriage to each other was in our future (Read the long version of our story here.) So, upon ending our relationship, I was immediately faced with the temptation to despair. What was God doing? Why was I so confused? I thought Mike was the one! The tears were many, just ask my mom.

This decision marked the beginning of one of the biggest battles I had yet to face in my walk with the Lord. The fight for FAITH. Did I really believe what I had been taught from Scripture about God’s sovereignty? Did I trust God that He had a perfect plan for my life? Was I confident that He would reveal His will to me, in His good time? Could I be happy if His plan didn’t include marriage? I’m sorry to say that my answer to many of these questions was often a resounding “no.” I thought that my ideas and plans were best. If only the Lord would speak more clearly. If only He would do it this way—MY way.

How grateful I am for the mercy of God upon my life during this struggle. Through the leadership of my parents, I began to press into God’s Word in a most intense way. I spent hours studying “faith” and “sovereignty” in the Bible, and talking through the issues of sin in my heart with others. The book Is God Really in Control? (previously entitled Trusting God) by Jerry Bridges became a faithful friend to me. I read this book over and over again. Quotes like these fed my soul…

“God in His infinite wisdom knows exactly what adversity we need to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son. He not only knows what we need but when we need it and how best to bring it to pass in our lives. He is the perfect teacher or coach. His discipline is always exactly suited for our needs. He never over trains us by allowing too much adversity in our lives.” Page 122

“If we are to experience peace in our souls in times of adversity, we must come to the place where we truly believe that God’s ways are simply beyond us and stop asking Him “why” or even trying to determine it ourselves. This may seem like an intellectual “cop out,” a refusal to deal with the really tough issues of life. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is a surrender to the truth about God and our circumstances as it is revealed to us by God Himself in His inspired Word.” Page 126-7

Slowly, I cannot tell you exactly when, my heart began to change. I still didn’t know if marriage was in my future, but my heart was at peace in the sovereignty of my good and loving Father. I wanted His perfect plan to be fulfilled in my life.

If you find yourself in a similar situation today (and this fight for faith is certainly not limited to the arena of marriage), I would encourage you to take drastic action. Renew your mind with the consistent study of God’s Word. Purchase Jerry Bridges’ book and pursue the counsel and help of a pastor and godly friends. Grace awaits you!

“The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Feb 15

Q & A—Guy/Girl Relationships Pt. 2

2006 at 6:34 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

After posting last week’s Q&A on Guy/Girl Relationships, we received the following e-mail from a reader named Amy. She wrote to tell us her love story, which, besides being a fun read, beautifully illustrates the principles we laid out in that post. Amy’s story is full of the peaceful wisdom that comes from learning to trust in the Lord. And while no two love stories are the same, we can all be encouraged by this striking example of God’s sovereignty, which graciously rules over all our lives.

When I was a senior in high school, I developed a great friendship with two Christian guys, and I ended up falling for one of them. Although I never let on about my feelings, I had a terrible habit of overanalyzing his every move, hoping to find evidence that he was secretly in love with me. But I had no real reason to believe he was. And I didn’t know if he ever WOULD be interested in me. I think all I did was make myself crazy!

I also knew that the timing was off—having read and loved good old I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I was proudly (sometimes militantly ?) single, and I knew neither of us was ready for a serious, marriage-focused relationship. (I actually confided in my best friend at one point: “I don’t want to date Steve now. I just want to marry him later!”) Yet in spite of my confidence in a purpose-filled, focused season of singleness, I longed for God to just tell me in advance whether Steve and I would ever be together. I can’t tell you how many times I begged Him to give me some clarity one way or the other.

I knew that any sort of relationship might still be a few years away, but I foolishly reasoned that if God would just tell me, then I could let it go. I could either move on and forget about Steve if the answer was no, or if the answer was yes, I could rest in the knowledge that it would happen in a few years, and stop obsessing over it. What I didn’t yet understand was that God wanted me to learn to rest in HIM—not in the specifics of a plan concerning my love life. So of course I got no such clear answer. [Read More…]

Feb 8

Q & A—Guy/Girl Relationships

2006 at 7:54 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Singleness | Relationship Advice | Q&A

From time to time we get this question: “I like such and such a guy but I’m not sure what his intentions are. I want to tell him how I feel, but I’m not sure what to do.”

When feelings of attraction toward a guy are strong, even a perceived interest on his part can raise our hopes and drive us to want to “do something” about those feelings. How do we know what is the right course of action?

As always, we must turn to God’s Word for direction, for Scripture is, “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Regardless of how strong our feelings are, we must examine them under the light of God’s Word and submit them (by force if necessary) to the authority of God’s Word.

So what does the Bible have to say to the young woman who wants to make her feelings known? The Bible isn’t merely a reference book for our problems; however, it does have all the answers. Understanding who God is and the purpose for which He created us, will cause everything to fall into place. Three guiding principles apply here:

1. God has created us as women to be responsive to men’s leadership. This is clear throughout Scripture, not only in the created order and our calling to be helpers (Gen. 2:18-23), but in the commands for a wife to submit to her husband (Eph. 5:22-23) . If we seek to take matters into our own hands and “do something” about a situation such as this, we are depriving a man of an opportunity to fulfill his God-given calling to lead. Truly believing in the importance and significance of our femininity means living it out, even in the pressure cooker of strong desires. We must resist the temptation to allow our feelings and desires and not God’s Word dictate our direction. On a purely personal note, my mom used to ask me: Don’t you ultimately want a guy who is attracted enough to pursue you, without needing hints from you?

2. God is sovereign, loving, and wise. “But this guy I like hasn’t pursued me. How do I resolve the fear that he won’t notice me unless I take some initiative?” You may ask. Enter: the character of God. Human reasoning would say that this is incentive enough to buck the created order. However, we must hold fast to God’s Word and trust in His character. God is intimately involved in every detail of our lives (down to the hairs on our head). We must trust that His sovereignty is more than powerful enough, His love is more than true enough, and His wisdom more than knowledgeable enough to fulfill His perfect plan for us. This perfect plan may or may not include the desired relationship. But it will most definitely be for our good. As a single woman, Psalm 84:10-12 was my hope: “For a day in your courts is better? than a thousand elsewhere. ?I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God ?than dwell in the tents of wickedness.? For the Lord God is a sun and shield; ?the Lord bestows favor and honor.?No good thing does he withhold? from those who walk uprightly.?O Lord of hosts,?blessed is the one who trusts in you!”

3. God rewards our trust in Him. We don’t say “no” to our feelings and “yes” to God’s Word without a fight. And yet, there is joy and peace and freedom to be had. Psalm 131’s description of the weaned child, not concerned with things too lofty or wonderful, comes to mind. So does 1 Peter 3 and the woman whose beauty is of great worth in the sight of God because she does not “fear anything that is frightening.” Waiting and responding instead of initiating romantic relationships is not some kind of manipulative trick. It is the path to true attractiveness, the miraculous kind that only comes by the grace of God producing trust in God. For truly blessed is the woman who does not sinfully strive after a relationship, but quietly rests in the goodness of God!

Again, let me restate that these are guiding principles. Every person’s experience and situation is different; consequently we need the help of others to apply God’s truth to our lives. If you are unclear about how to relate to a guy in a God-honoring fashion, don’t try to figure this out on your own. Seek out your parent’s counsel or guidance from another wise couple or mature woman. God will surely guide your steps.

Oct 13

Carolyn’s Story Continued

2005 at 11:43 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Singleness | Relationship Advice

Apparently it was my lack of interest in CJ that, among other things, first captured his interest in me.

He couldn’t understand why I was being rude and unkind about simply fixing him a hot dog. He was curious. Intrigued. He wanted to find out more about this girl. He began to look for ways to interact with me.

I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with him and purposed to avoid him.

Little did CJ know that he fit the profile of the kind of man I had vowed I would never marry—a preacher. See, growing up in the church I had observed many men in pastoral ministry who had mishandled finances, or committed adultery, or neglected to make their families a priority. Consequently, I had determined at a young age that I would not marry a man who was a pastor.

However, God in His great mercy had different plans for me.

As I began to listen to CJ preach over that week I was captivated by his passion for the Savior. So much so that by the time he asked me to take a walk with him several days later, I actually agreed. I was now the curious one. I wondered: Was this guy as passionate in real life as he appeared to be on stage?

My questions were quickly answered in that one walk. Because the only topic of our one-sided conversation (he did all the talking!) was about Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. And it was this same topic that dominated our conversations in many walks to follow.

I was smitten, and began to rethink my vow not to marry a preacher.

By the time CJ had completed his week of teaching at the conference center, he had communicated his interest in me, I had introduced him to my parents, I had decided not to go to Bible college and was rehired to my previous secretarial position, and a courtship had begun!

Or so I thought. However, I did not hear from CJ for several weeks after his return to Maryland.

You see, before CJ had met me, he had concluded that the most effective way he could serve the Savior was to remain single. So, when he got back home, he began to deal with a raging conflict in his soul. He began to wrestle with the question: Was he being unfaithful to God’s call on his life by pursuing marriage?

Thankfully, through the help and wise counsel of others he was able to resolve this issue and conclude that he wasn’t neglecting his God-given call by pursuing me. However, he had some big-time explaining to do when he finally phoned.

After we surmounted this hurdle, the courtship took off. However, the long-distance factor of our relationship, made the times together too infrequent, the good-byes extra difficult, and the phone bills way too high. So it was sweet indeed, when CJ asked me to marry him. Or more accurately, he asked: “Will you be engaged to me?” I think he had difficulty getting that word “marry” out of his mouth. But after my asking for clarification, he was able to say: “Will you marry me?”

I said “yes” and by far it is the best “yes” I have ever uttered.

In spite of the fact that each of us wanted to be somewhere else the day we met, that I didn’t want to marry a preacher, and that C.J. wasn’t sure he should get married, God’s quiet providence had other plans in mind. C.J. and I were married on May 17, 1975. He was 21 and I was 19.

This year we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and this post is not long enough to tell you of the love we have for each other today. However, I have included a tribute to my husband, given at the occasion of his turning over leadership of Covenant Life Church. In brief, it tells the story of our thirty years together.

Oct 12

Carolyn’s Story

2005 at 12:35 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Singleness | Relationship Advice

It all started with a cold hot dog. Or at least that is what my husband claims was the temperature of this All-American staple food I fixed for him the first time we met. Though we had been officially introduced earlier in the day, it was the “hot dog incident” of that unforgettable evening in the summer of 1974 that inaugurated our relationship. Let me fill in a few details of the story.

At the time of our meeting, I was living at and working as a secretary for a Christian conference center in Bradenton, Florida, where guest speakers came to teach for week-long series. CJ had just arrived from Maryland as the new speaker for the week. The reason I was serving up hot dogs instead of attending to my secretarial duties was because I had recently quit my job as secretary. I had planned to move back home with my family before heading off to a Bible college in Texas in a matter of days. However, my friends hounded me until I reluctantly agreed to stay one extra week to hear and meet a passionate preacher named CJ Mahaney. And I was doing odd jobs for the week to compensate for my extended stay—thus my canteen duty where hot dogs and the like were served. But truth be told, I really did not want to be there. And I really did not want to meet CJ Mahaney.

So when he showed up at the canteen after the 11:00 PM closing time and asked for a hot dog, I said, “Sorry, we are closed.” He explained he had been traveling most of the day, just finished preaching and praying for people, and had hardly eaten a thing. He wondered if I would make an exception. With evident displeasure, I agreed. But I guess I didn’t boil that hot dog quite long enough to make it truly hot!

And I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to be at that place at that time. CJ had also worked through his own struggles with not wanting to be there. After accepting the invitation to speak at this conference center in Florida, he had received another invitation to speak at Jesus ’74—one of the largest and most popular events on the Christian landscape at that time. So needless to say, he would rather have accepted that invitation. However, he believed integrity required him to be faithful to the commitment he previously made to the conference center.

So even though neither of us wanted to be there, he had come and I had stayed. We could not have imagined what the quiet providence of God had in store.

Tomorrow I will tell you what happened next…