Purity is a Heart Issue

I never quite graduate from learning what it means to live with a pure heart. Just when I think I am doing all right in this area, a new challenge appears that reminds me that I am still in the process of becoming the woman God wants me to be.

Few months ago, I had a crush on someone. I particularly admired how he is able to lead others by example – setting the pace in terms of ministry duties as minor as helping others administratively, and as big as encouraging fellow leaders for intensified discipleship. He was only an acquaintance that time so the admiration just came out of an observation. Because we kind of have common friends, it was not too long that we were introduced. And because certain circumstances in the ministry required us to work together, it was not too long that we became friends.

I did not want to entertain the emotion. Personally, I have the tendency to over-analyze friendly gestures when infatuated (a symptom of the Drunk on Dopamine syndrome) which is honestly pretty exhausting. This is why before any unwarranted emotion scatters all over the place, I already confessed it to God. I asked Him to guide and guard my heart above all else (Proverbs 4:23). I also told God, that since I am not yet mature for anything that leads to marriage, to help me treat this person as a brother in Christ (Hebrews 13:1) thus with a pure heart.

Song of Songs 3:5 (also repeated in 8:4) protected me many times before, and I have held on to this verse whenever I’d get flattered by someone’s intention to pursue me or eager for somebody’s attention. It says, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” God also made it clear to me that it is okay to admire someone but it is never okay to let such admiration turn into scheming ways and gratification of the flesh.

But I made my first mistake when I felt an urge to vent out my concealed emotions to two girl friends. The urge to vent out to others was an early sign of immaturity on my part. Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) says, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back”. I took refuge from others instead of God. But I still praise God because His mercy led me to people who are trustworthy and mature in the aspect. They graciously gave biblical advices to me. The first girl told me to memorise Psalm 51:10 and recite it silently whenever I’d get distracted by what I am feeling, while the second girl lovingly rebuked me to put my feelings into its proper place when it comes to decision-making.

Things started to get better. I started not to get rattled and awkward by his presence anymore because the Holy Spirit was helping me fix my eyes and even heart to things that matter more. My thought bubble often was, “Facts over feelings. Faith over feelings.”

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But just when I thought things were doing pretty well, God double-checked. The guy started texting, and because I was entertaining his messages with questions or responses that would prolong our conversation, our virtual talks became more constant as the days went by. There was a small voice telling me that this is not a good idea, that I was acting impulsively, but I ignored the prodding of the Holy Spirit to choose facts and faith over feelings.

My second mistake was when I was rationalizing my intentions to be right – thinking that I can fool the Lord with, “This conversation is for the Lord, for ministry. This is okay. God would understand. My discipler would understand.” Then we started hanging out together with a friend or two, sometimes in groups. I painstakingly parsed every conversation and meticulously analyzed every action. And I would go home with guilt in my heart. The Holy Spirit convicted me of manipulating things. I know that the term manipulating seem to be a harsh way to put it, but He is actually right. I had manoeuvred circumstances and conversations in such a way that gratifies my flesh and magnifies insecurities that should not be there in the first place.

Then an eye-opening situation happened. A good friend, in one casual conversation, suddenly told me, “I know that you are crushing on somebody I know.” It bothered me so bad that I pulled out an entire defense army.

“What are you talking about?”, I denyingly replied. Then he said, “I know you for a long time already and I am a guy so we can sense such things, and you were pretty obvious all along”. This honest comment bothered me even more. I felt so embarrassed at this point (particularly because it was coming from a guy friend), but I still did not want him to notice so I really tried to play chill.

“What do you mean I am obvious? What are you talking about?”, I denyingly replied once again. He laughed at me because my facial expression implied a lot of guilt and shame. He answered back with observable evidences, and I felt like a thief caught in action hence bound for prison.

I thought that all along I can just pretend to be pure in my actions yet scheming in my heart. Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” This embarrassment, triggered by guilt and hypocrisy, led me to repentance.

Not only did I fail in reaping a fruit of the Spirit which is self-control (Galatians 5:23), I also did not take my every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). But I still praise God because He leads me to His paths despite my shortcomings.

It was only then that I shared these things to my discipler/accountability partner (which should not be the case. Seek God’s confirmation first and wise counsel second before making decisions!) The transparency brought relief. She praised the Lord because it could have been worse if the mercy of God was not with me. She also told me that it was God’s way of checking and double-checking my heart thus correcting and developing my character. She also assured me that there is nothing wrong with having a crush on someone, but she also told me to not let my emotions or feelings dictate my response to and walk with the Lord. Indeed, my life should only be steered by God’s truth and faith in Him. 

She also reminded me of the Apple on Trees principle:

Girls are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. The boys don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that are not as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who is brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

What did I learn from the experience? I learnt that my feelings must never bypass God’s word and instruction in my life. I should not act as a rotten apple because I am a daughter of God.

For the past weeks, by God’s grace, instead of dwelling on every text I’d receive from him, I would seek God for His guidance saying, “Lord, You make me complete. Please do not let my heart deceive me. Please guide my thoughts and responses because I desire to glorify You. If you are calling me to choose You in spite what I am feeling, please help me do so. I trust Your will and timing more than anything.”

I would delete his messages that needed no urgent reply (in response to 1 Corinthian 10:13’s “a way out”). By God’s grace, the times when I would constantly crave to know the person more turned to times when I would rely on the Lord for pure thoughts.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” I praise the Lord because He did not allow me to continue walking with Him with veil in my eyes, blinded by mere infatuation. Instead, He allowed me to see Him and His goodness in the situation.

God intended it all for good.

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