Written By Judy E. Denby

It's tempting to write about giving thanks this month, as I have much to be thankful for. I try to count my blessings daily, and to focus on what I have rather than what I lack, which isn't always easy. This month, however, I wanted to talk about another issue. I guess if I gave it a title, it would be something like, Things I Wish I Had Known Back When I Thought I Knew It All.

I was reading in the book of Titus a few days ago, and in chapter two Paul gives instructions on the responsibilities of the various age groups in that society. He tells the older women to teach the younger women about the important issues in life, such as being wise, loving their husbands and children, having purity, and how to stay busy at home. When you think back, how much were you told about life? Many women were blessed with strong role models and women who taught them many good things. I don't remember hearing very much from the older women that I knew. I would guess that the assumption among them was always that someone else would do it, but my Christian family was fairly quiet on some important topics, and I had to learn from other sources, books and my peers. Not always the best way to learn about life, and I heard some strange ideas. Now I would ask, what do you have to share with a young woman?

Right away the thought comes to mind that most teenagers today do not want to hear from their elders. I think the parable of the Sower, from Mark 4, applies here too. Some won't listen to any advice. But some will be like sponges, soaking up every work they hear, too embarrassed to ask questions but anxious for someone to take an interest in helping them. For those ones, is it not better for them to hear from an elder who is strong in the Word and whose advice is rooted in Christ, rather than someone whose words come from the world? I would hardly claim to be the wisest woman, and I recognize that I still have a lot to learn, but I've been thinking about what I would like to have known when I was younger. This list is certainly not all-encompassing, but I hope it will provide you with some idea of what you can share with a younger woman.

God is fair. The world isn't.

Sometimes we get the idea that if we love God and our neighbors, and live right, we will somehow be rewarded and our dreams will come true. God doesn't promise that. He has a wonderful place called heaven waiting for us (Revelation 21:1-7, 10-27), but until we get there life may not always be easy. Sin causes heartaches, and sometimes God allows them to happen for His own reasons, which we may not understand until we get to heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). But we can rest assured that God is always in control (Matthew 28:18), and He is always there with us (Matthew 28:20), no matter what life throws at us.

Remember the three Hs when making any decisions.

They are Head, Heart and Hormones. I tend to follow my heart, and sometimes my head needs to overrule and keep me in a straight line. Younger people, especially (although older people aren't excluded either) can be ruled by their hormones. We must help out teenagers to become conscious of this, and then to avoid situations where their hormones seize control. As an OB nurse, my heart is burdened when I see single young women coming in to have babies; then sometimes they request paternity testing and I could cry because they don't know even who is the child's father. Of course this leads to another issue:

Sex isn't single.

When two people have sexual intercourse, in Gods' eyes they are united as man and wife. Despite what the world would have us believe, there really is no such thing as casual sex. Virginity was considered to be an old-fashioned idea for a long time, but I see it gaining popularity because people are getting concerned about diseases such as HIV. Gods' design was for a man and a woman to be united as one, and to remain that way until death. Now I know that mistakes happen, and I would never be one to judge another who has been led astray by hormones or a sweet-talking man who told her, “I’m going to marry you anyway, so what can it hurt to have sex before the wedding night?”. I once dated a Christian man who said those very words to me, but fortunately God provided me with the strength to say no when I needed to, because in just a few weeks I was nursing a broken heart. So I can speak from experience when I say “WAIT!!!”. Even though your non-Christian friends think there must be something wrong with you. Even though it is embarrassing to go to the doctor for an illness and have him or her insist on a pregnancy test because no one can believe that a woman of your age is not sexually active. It's worth it, because you don't have to worry about a sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy, of course, but also because it honors God and shows your respect for His will. We don't all fall in love by the time we're 25, and that's okay. I've know a lot of women who, like me, grew up believing that they'd meet Prince Charming, get married, have children, and be living happily ever after by the age of 30. Suddenly, they're six months away from 30, still very single, and the panic grows a little more each day as they get closer to the magic number. Why do we set such goals for ourselves? We cannot foretell or control the future, yet we and society judge that there must be something wrong with us if we are not in a permanent relationship by a certain age. I can speak from experience here, too, and I know that it seems as though nothing anyone else says eases the fear of growing old alone. I spent many years repeating two verses to myself: Proverbs 3:5-6. I also like the 6th chapter of Matthew. And all women hoping to meet Mr. Right need to be informed of the next point:

Prince Charming may come disguised as a frog.

Many of my single Christian friends, both men and women, are looking for someone perfect. They have these standards that I've never understood, perhaps because I've been one of those rejected by such standards. A personís value is not in his/her height, or hair color, or income potential. God may bring many good people into our lives, people we could have wonderful marriages with, and yet we choose to pass over them for our own reasons. Of course there must be an element of compatibility, and it is vitally important that Christians are not married to non-Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14), but I guess my message would be to give a person a chance. The next point reflects this, too.

My husband isn't perfect! (but neither am I).

If you're married, I'm sure you've been there too. The honeymoon is over, and as you pull six pairs of dirty socks out from behind the sofa cushions, you wonder why you didn't notice this annoying habit of his before you were married. But he's also wondering why you failed to mention that, no matter what the season, you sleep with both bedroom windows wide open because you hate to be too hot. He's tired of having to defrost his feet every morning. And finally:

Don't live your life waiting for something to make it complete.

All you need to make life complete is God, and everything else is a blessing. Matthew 6:33 says it best. Weíre all guilty of thinking that one final object or event will do it for us, whether itís marriage, children, owning a home, a great job, a new car, a trip to Europe… Our ultimate joy is in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21) and while God gives us everything good to enjoy here on earth, don't get too wrapped up in the attaining of it. He has far greater plans for us!