Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Authentic Beauty - Leslie Ludy: a review (and some thoughts about relationships)

(Warning: If you can't stand reading or hearing any more about romantic relationships, and especially how Christians should conduct them, you may or may not want to read on)

Ever since I became a Christian, I was drawn into reading articles and advice in books and on the Internet about dating and relationships in a Christ-like way. I hate to admit it to most people, but I'm actually a bit of a romantic deep down, and often have very strong emotional feelings which I keep well hidden, even though I'm meant to let them out, as everyone views it as more acceptable if a girl instead of a boy has a good cry or heart-to-heart. Therefore, getting myself to post this on the Internet was a big struggle for me: I want to share this great book with you, but to understand how much it has impacted me, giving you a bit of background and my conceptions of relationships with the opposite sex are essential for doing so.

Anyway, this issue has always interested me and loads of questions flood my mind on a regular basis concerning it: how can I still follow Jesus and have a boyfriend at the same time? Will there ever be anyone 'out there': a wonderful guy who lives wholeheartedly for Him and who I am meant to be with? Yes, from the other side of the Atlantic, courtship may be more beneficial than dating, but what about in the UK? What does this mean for us Brits over here? What is God's purpose for my life now, and should I be thinking of marriage yet (as I'm legally of age to get married with my parents' consent - a very scary thought when considered deeply!)?

I even decided at one point when I was twelve that I wanted to be a 'barlowgirl': a Christian girl/young woman who won't date, takes a stand for purity, modesty and abstinence in this society and will not even kiss a guy or her boyfriend/fiancee until her wedding day. A certain Candace in America thought up the idea of this generation's young female believers doing this, after hearing Superchic[k]'s song 'Barlow girls', about Rebecca, Alyssa and Lauren Barlow who were good friends with the band. However, when she found out that the Barlow girls were real and had started a band whose music proved rather popular, she hastily changed the site from http://www.barlowgirl.net/ to http://www.puritygirls.com/.

Subsequently, as I was 1) too young to ever get realistically asked out by a guy 2) living in a different culture where everyone has a different attitude to the whole American dating scene, I decided to quit the online forum I had joined. Looking back now, it was definitely the wisest thing to do. (It's now at http://www.puritypeople.com/ if you're interested).

About ten months ago (last Christmas) I read ' I Kissed Dating Goodbye' by Josh Harris, which changed a lot of attitudes I already had. At the time I was reading it I was trying to get over a crush I had on a guy (trusting God with my once again broken heart) who I didn't see very often, but who I knew was a committed Christian and evidently living for Jesus. When I learnt that I was meant to treat and think of him as a brother (1 Timothy 5:2), as well as every other guy I came across, I knew that things had to change. It's something I still struggle with today and that I often forget about. I was also urged to redeem my time I have now as someone single, and how, instead of wallowing in self-despair or sorrow because no one seems to 'like' me, I should help and serve others who need my love and help more.

This book Leslie Ludy wrote has built on Joshua Harris's ideas and has really inspired me not to run after something that God's timing will eventually bring, if that is His will: in fact, it encourages all who read it to be set apart, lilies among thorns (Song of Solomon 2:2) and to be intimate with our Prince, developing our relationship with Him and investing our time talking and listening to Him, instead of putting all our energy into finding or thinking about 'Mr Right'. It inspires us girls to do good for our husbands, before we even know who they are! (Proverbs 31:12).

This book is aimed for young women and girls like Leslie used to be: who seek approval of guys in their physical behaviour as well as a similar attitude towards them; also for others (like me), who may have never been in a relationship and are trying to remain pure, but who don't focus on God enough instead of dwelling on these things: who have yet to come to know the God who made, loved and saved us. And for everyone else, because I've never met someone who doesn't struggle with this.

I've realised recently that though I have had lots of crushes, some which have lasted for absolutely ages and have often taken the place where Jesus should be in my heart many a time, I have yet to find someone who is truly right for me (from what I can tell). I also know that I'm not ready for a relationship now, and I need to wait for the right time when it comes.
Now I know that no guy in this world will ever satisfy me completely, except Jesus Christ, in whom I'm totally accepted, totally loved and totally protected, as well as total honesty and trust. He is the only one who can make me truly happy.

From reading this gem of a book, I want to fully depend and trust in Christ alone, with nothing distracting or hindering me from Him. I want to be fearless and authentic - someone willing to share the Gospel not just because we as Christians have to, but because of how much it means to me, the fact I'm trying (with God's help) to shape my life around it, with Jesus at the centre, and how much I've come to love that guy who sacrificed himself for us, so we could live when everything we can see and touch passes away.

I urge you to check this book out, and also check out these links below, which have also really helped me:

In Christ,



Logic Sword said...

Hi Imogen, I'm not sure if you remember me, I'm Logic Sword from the Oneup forum. I'd just like to thank you for your post, I'm in the same position pretty much, but I'm a guy and this post has still really helped me. So thanks again!

Anonymous said...

i loved the book as well as the Joshua Harris book the first time that i read it and they mean so much to me. they have really shaped my thought processes now although i am still struggling with fully applying these truths to my life.