NAS: If I’m Called to Religious Life…

So, I’m finally making the plunge and linking up with Jen and Morgan for the Not Alone Series for the first time. I’ve read some of the posts before and admired it from afar. But I’ve never really felt it was the link-up for me. But thing’s have changed lately. I think this post will help explain why.

My first time joining this link-up and this is the topic I get:

While most of us feel called to marriage, it is important to see the beauty in all vocations! If/when you were discerning religious life, which communities interest(ed) you? What do you see as the positives of that vocation?

This is actually a perfect topic. Because discerning religious life? Yeah, been there, done that. Kind of.

Okay…story time.

When I was in high school I was coming into my faith. I was realizing the beauty of it and starting my personal journey with God. I was enamored with the whole thing, with the joy and the community I had found. I was also a helpless romantic. As a sophomore in high school I remember saying to a priest that I was pretty sure I was called to be a sister. I wanted what they had and perhaps, in a way, I saw it as the logical next step on my journey.

Then came senior year. A year of decisions. I was still contemplating religious life and that fall I went on a discernment retreat. In adoration I believed I received a sign. I thought that I should look at religious orders dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Later, I recalled that I had already visited one such order. After that, I was pretty convinced that the sign had been true and this was God’s way of saying that this order was where I was supposed to be.

So a month later I visited them. I hated it. I didn’t feel welcomed I didn’t feel at home, I didn’t feel peace. I was confused and upset. But…this was where God wanted me. Or so I thought. And that was the most upsetting part.

I wrestled with it for months. Eventually, I decided I would do it. I would join the convent. Needless to say I hadn’t discerned properly. I’m not saying you can’t have reservations about your vocation or that you have to love every aspect of it. But from my understanding God’s will should bring you peace not the twist of emotions and dread that I felt.

Thankfully, God was at work. I told my mom that I would be joining the convent. The next day she put down a housing deposit at Benedictine College. She said she wanted to give me time to think about it. Well, it didn’t take long for God to tug at my heart. I came for early orientation at BC and loved it. I wanted this. And it’s where I’m meant to be.

So here I am, finishing up my sophomore year of college. I’ve done a lot of thinking and discerning this year about my vocation. I don’t know that I have it all figured out. I don’t think I’ll wind up in religious life but if I do, that will be okay with me. I’ll get to have prayer and daily Mass scheduled into my day for me. My life will be simpler and spent in service to others. And if I get married that will be okay too. Ditto with single life. Every vocation has its challenges and its joys. I’m still trying to figure out which joys will be mine. In the mean time I’m continuing to discern and I’m waiting. Waiting on God. And potentially waiting on my future husband. 😉

The positives of religious life, I think are things which initially attracted me to it and which I still see as beautiful and appealing: living in a community of  Catholic women, trying together to be holy, and giving yourself completely to God in a special way. Religious life is beautiful and I think it’s important to acknowledge that no matter what your vocation is. I will never be a priest but I still acknowledge the beauty of that vocation.

If God does call me to the life of a sister I’m fairly confident it will be to an order with some sort of apostolate such as teaching or possibly nursing. The School Sisters of Christ the King come to mind, as do the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. I’ve had some type of contact with all 3 orders, the first two especially. They seem to be beautiful orders of happy young sisters living their callings (and having fun while they do so!). Honestly it wouldn’t be so bad.

But I’m still on a journey. And I’m glad to be sharing this journey with my friends and with all of you and to be finally joining the NAS link-up.

 

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Blood, Tears, and More Blood: My Journey to Charting my Menstrual Cycle

I announced last Friday that I was considering doing a post regarding cycles and charting. Then I found out that this week is national NFP awareness week (which is pretty awesome in and of itself). It also turns out that there’s a linkup over at NFP and Me for the occasion. So apparently, somebody up there wants me to write this post. And here I am.

I want to start off with a warning. If the title of the post hasn’t scared you off, here’s a heads-up. This is going to get personal. And maybe a little gross. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, if this topic makes you uncomfortable feel free to move on. It’s really ok. You won’t offend me. Be warned that in this and other posts like it I might use words such as period, menstruation, ovulation, ovaries, luteal phase, uterus, libido, cervical mucus, sex, menstrual cycle, pads, and blood.

Whew! Got through it!

For anyone who’s still with me, here’s my story and why I plan to start charting my cycles.

charting with thermometer

I’m single. I’m not dating. I don’t plan on being sexually active until after marriage. I may, in fact, never get married. So why the heck do I want to start charting my cycles like those awesome people who use NFP do?

Towards the beginning of this summer, after I had just finished my freshman year of college, I had a conversation with my mom about my desire to chart. I had already begun taking note of when my period happened and now wanted to get more in depth. I had noticed that my cycles didn’t seem to follow the rules. One month it was 33 days long, another it was 39, the next month 28.

When I was younger I never paid much attention to my period. It was something that just “happened” every few weeks. My understanding was that it should be every 28 days. Even so, I generally didn’t bother to make sure that was when it was happening. Usually, I would think something to the effect of “well, I got it around the 20th last month, so it should come about then this month”. Besides being bad math, this method didn’t account for the fact that my cycle might be longer or shorter than 28 days (not every women’s cycle is the same). Using this method, I remember having what I considered late periods every now and then.

The sad thing is, I really didn’t know much. I could offer a number of excuses but the hard fact is I was never taught much about my fertility or cycles. All I knew from my mom came from one conversation about how the lining of my uterus (which she said nourished a baby when a woman was pregnant) would build up and then shed once a month. And I would bleed.

For the first few months after I got my period I kept track. And I distinctly remember, just a few months later, having one period follow on another within 2 weeks. I freaked out. What did this mean? It was my 5th period. Did that mean my fifth pregnancy would be a miscarriage? These were the thoughts that passed through my 12 year old brain. I wish I had understood that irregular and anovulatory periods weren’t that unusual for a girl who was just starting.

Anyways, after a few months more I wasn’t really keeping track of my cycles and had moved on to my “once a month” bad math. And I let it be that way for years. Eventually, I started reading pro-life news, learned more about how my body works, stumbled across the awesome NFP website 1Flesh and got more interested. At this time I headed off to college.

At school, I made some great girlfriends and we talked about NFP and charting. I came to realize that I should be keeping better track of my body and listening to what it was telling me. I knew by this point that I was seeing a connection between my mood and my cycle. I would often get really high-strung and anxious before my period. I also learned that brown spotting at the end of a period , which is something I had seen in myself,could be a bad sign. Eventually, I came around to my current decision to go all out with charting.

There’s a number of reasons I guess.

1) to know my body better and be empowered with that knowledge

2) to make sure there’s nothing wrong (my irregular cycles as well as brown flow might be cause for concern)

3) to monitor the correlation between the different parts of my cycle and my mood

4)–last but not least–to know when my period is coming

I’ve already signed up for a few different free online charting sites (I’ll see which one I prefer) and have done a little charting. I’ll hopefully be starting all the official monitoring, including temperature taking, soon. It’s actually kind of exciting. Hopefully I’ll be posting more about my adventures in charting in the weeks and months ahead. Would you be interested in joining me as I learn more about cycle charting and myself? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

This post is linked up to the NFP and Me NFP week link up. Check it out for NFP-related posts from other bloggers.

A little disclaimer: I am only starting to chart and I am not using those charts as a form of NFP. If you are interested in that you should speak with an NFP teacher or practitioner. I’m not an expert.

Why “I Can Take Care of Myself” is Such a Blow to Men

I was recently watching a TV show and a male character was trying to explain to the girl he’s fallen for that his (perhaps) misguided decision was only made because he wanted to take care of her. Her angry response was the cliche, feminist, I am Woman Hear Me Roar “I can take care of myself!” (Though really she wasn’t as nasty as she was confused and hurt.) But it struck me just how rough that sentence must be for a guy to hear.

Men are wired to be caretakers, protectors. Just like women they want to feel needed. While we seek attention and affection as our means of validation men will strive to prove themselves in different ways. When we tell them that we don’t need them, that they aren’t important, that their protective instincts are wrong, I can only imagine what a punch in the gut that is.

Imagine if you, as a woman, tried to do something nice for your guy. Maybe you cook something for him, or get his car washed when it really needs it, or make sure to record college football. Now you present him with your soufflé, his shiny clean car, or the DVD of the game. And he says: “I didn’t need you to do that! I can do it myself!” How do you think you would feel?

Thing is men do have feelings (I think) and self-esteem. And they can be hurt just as we can. We shouldn’t bite their head off because they did something nice for us. We should thank them, if for no other reason than common courtesy. This extends to just about everything, including a man opening a door for us. If he holds open a door don’t turn your nose up or get mad because you can do that yourself. No. Thank him.

We can do a lot of things for ourselves. If a man doesn’t believe that then you can go ahead and yell at him. But don’t ever belittle his attempts to fulfill the calling God has placed in the very nature of his heart. Respect that he is made to be a protector. And accept his attempts as one of his ways of showing the affection your heart seeks.

Chivalry is dead, in large part, because feminism killed it. I know I’ve said this before but it’s more than worth repeating. Chivalry lives on in a few men, but if we continue to tell them “I can take care of myself” they may come to believe they aren’t needed and that their desire to be kind and protecting is wrong or misplaced. The world needs men to step up, one way this might happen is if we women step back and allow them to do nice things for us. Yes, we can do it ourselves but we can also let someone else be chivalrous enough to do it for us.

It occurred to me that there a few different things lately that have brought me to this post. One, which I’d like to share, is this status from Made in His Image’s Facebook page

“I held a door open for a woman on a date and she said, ‘You don’t have to do that because I’m a woman,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t; I held it open because I’m a man.'” #gentleman (Made in His Image on Facebook )

Review of “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul”

This is the first review in my Summer Reading 2013 series. It’s a review/reflection on “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul” by Jason and Crystalina Evert.

Summer Reading How To Find Your Soulmate

If you’re a Catholic girl or young woman you’ve probably sat through at least one awkward chastity talk. It might have been in CCD class, at youth group, in your catholic high school, or with your mom. At the very least you’re most likely familiar with the rigid idea of abstinence. You’ve heard it before: you shouldn’t do that before marriage, you have to be pure, you can’t do that, you have to do this.

But why? Why is chastity so darn important?

One word: love.

This is the main question Jason and Crystalina Evert deal with in their book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul. This husband and wife team make a lot of good points about waiting for marriage, treating yourself right and being the woman God wants you to be. This book can be powerful if you let it.

Love is something we often don’t truly understand. But it’s a choice, something we decide to do. Every day we make choices: some are loving and some aren’t. Some show a love of ourselves but a contempt for others. Some show love for others but a contempt for ourselves. True chastity is a way of loving others and loving ourselves.

So, who does chastity love?

1) Ourselves. The truth is that hooking up, shacking up, or simply being nothing but physical are not good for us. As women we want to be shown love. I know this is true of myself beyond a doubt. But we often look for it in the wrong places or are willing to sacrifice anything for it. So, we give men what they want in the hopes they will give us what we want. The truth is though, that many men who get what they want don’t see the reason to give the woman what she wants. After all, if he’s getting “the one thing on his mind” why would he bother caring what we want? Why would he consider marrying us if he’s already getting his physical “needs” met without a commitment? We’re just a tool. And as soon as something better comes along he’ll have no issues with dumping you like a hot potato.

2) Your boyfriend. Yes, not giving somebody everything they may want can actually be very good for them. We need to teach men that they can’t expect to get everything they want. The lesson starts when we say “no”. This not only shows that we respect ourselves and our body but that we respect him. You can protect him from himself by refusing to go there. Don’t tempt him, but rather make him a better person. (By the way, if he refuses to live according to your standards you need to dump him like a hot potato.)

3) Your future husband. Someday, you might very well get married. If you’re actively dating, odds are marriage is something you want. When you find that perfect guy do you want to have to admit to him the mistakes you’ve made? Do you want to be comparing him to your former loves? Save something special for that special someone. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past you can start over today and give your future husband every day between now and your wedding day.

Being chaste means that you have higher standards, that you respect your worth, that you recognize that your body is not meant for any guy to have and hold but that it and you are meant to give yourself only to the man you marry.

Soulmate is about a lot more than just chastity, however. It’s about respecting yourself as a woman and recognizing your dignity and beauty. It’s about being strong, having high standards, and trusting that God has someone very special in store for you.

One way to live these things out is to set guidelines. Make it clear to you and your boyfriend that there are certain things you just won’t do. Respect him too, and don’t force him to do anything he’s uncomfortable with. Another way you can set guidelines is discussed in the book. Crystalina recommends praying for your future husband, even though you may not have met him yet. She also talks about how she made a list of attributes she wanted her husband to have. A short while later she met Jason who embodied so many of her hopes and dreams for her perfect man.

As soon as I came to that part in the book, I took out a notebook and started to make my own list. For each woman, this list will be slightly different. We are all different and we work and get along well with different kinds of people. Here are just a few things from my list to get you thinking:

6) is a leader
16) he loves kids
29) is stereotypical chivalrous: opens doors etc.

I challenge you to make your own list. Trust that God will lead you to the life you’re meant to have. Trust that you don’t need to give yourself away or degrade your worth to receive love. Trust that chastity is love and that any man who doesn’t recognize that is not worth your love or your time. One chapter of Soulmate is called “Break Up, Even if He Smells Good” let me just echo the advice: if he doesn’t respect you, if he refuses to accept your “no”, if he doesn’t meet up to your standards of what a good husband should be then break up. Now.

It took me longer than I would have like to finish How to Find Your Soulmate but as I turned the last page I wanted more. For me, this was a very personal book. And I know it’s a book I haven’t fully absorbed. I borrowed this book from my friend Laura (she blogs over at My Drop in The Ocean) so I might just have to get my own copy to go through, highlight, and open up whenever I need a dose of encouragement.

Any young woman out there: get this book. I don’t care if you live a chaste life and don’t feel any of this applies to you. This book will remind you why you should be chaste and hopefully renew you for what’s ahead.

If you’d like to get your own copy, and I encourage any young woman out there to do so, you can find it here on Amazon or get it through their website. If you order through the last link you can the book for as low as $2 when you buy in bulk!

Remember, you are worth more. Act like it.
Keep your head high and your standards higher.

Modesty: Whose Fault Is It?

woman vs manI’ve heard it plenty of times: this argument about whose fault it is when a woman dresses provocatively and a man reacts to it. Is it her fault he reacted that way? Or is it his fault and she’s not to be blamed? I’ve heard people bash comments about rape being the woman’s fault because she dressed that way. I’ve seen women tell themselves they’re not guilty when a man uses them, even though they were dressed inappropriately.

Take this scenario for example.

A woman wearing a skimpy outfit walks down the street. A man across the street sees her and thinks of her as an object.
Who’s fault is it?

One side  (A) says: it’s the woman’s fault! She dressed like that in front of him, tempted him. How else was he supposed to react?

While the other side (B) argues: the woman had nothing to do with it! It wasn’t her fault. Stopping blaming her for something like that.

But I think both sides have it wrong.

Side A does a disservice to the man, actually. In their reasoning, he is equated to a beast who can not control his impulses. This is simply false.

Side B refuses to acknowledge the connection between what the woman wore and how the man reacted. Again, there seems to be some false thinking.

Well, here’s what I think: both the man and the woman are at fault.

I was thinking about this and modesty last night and brought in some ideas from the theological morality class I’m taking. Now, each individual is responsible for their own actions right? So clearly the man is responsible for his actions, thoughts, whatever they may be. He is not a beast. The thoughts may come easy but that is because the man has a vice. It is not because he has absolutely no control over himself but because it is especially difficult for him to control himself in this area as he is enslaved to this vice he has developed.

But that doesn’t mean the woman’s off the hook. Ladies, what’s one of the chief reasons, besides respecting ourselves and our own dignity as human beings, that we are often given for why we should be modest? That’s right. Because we don’t want to be a source of temptation for men. We don’t want them to be overcome by lust just because of what we’re wearing. But that’s what women who dress that way are doing. We must acknowledge that the way we dress can make it harder or easier for a man to avoid sin. We must also acknowledge that tempting someone is wrong. Whether or not we are then culpable for the man’s sin I’ll leave to the theologians, or at least someone with a couple more Theology classes under their belt.

The way I see it there are two sins to be guilty for and no one is blameless in this situation: the woman is (at least) guilty of dressing inappropriately, the man of his thoughts/actions. The two are not necessarily dependent. A woman might dress that way and cause no one to fall (though odds are she’d tempt a few), or she might dress ultra-conservatively and still there’d be a man ogling her. However these aren’t unrelated. I think we can all agree that odds are the way she’s dressing is not completely separate from the way he’s thinking.

So my answer to the argument of who’s at fault for the sin? Depends on which sin we’re talking about. But really, in this scenario, they’re both at fault for something.

Leah Darrow: You Were Made for Greatness…This isn’t it

Leah Darrow quote1
A quote from Leah. Though she didn’t say this in her talk I think it speaks of her story and message well.

This is a post I wrote last week (with just a few small tweaks) but didn’t get around to posting before I left for the March for Life. (More on that in my next post!) Enjoy!

I love going to Benedictine College! We have too much fun. We also have great speakers who visit. A few days ago Leah Darrow, who was once on America’s Next Top Model, came and told her amazing story.

As a little girl, Leah told us, she had experienced an epiphany one day concerning her future. She ran to her mom and told her she was going to do something, something big and great. Her mom asked her what this thing was. And Leah said “I don’t know. But it’s going to be great!”

Many years later, Leah was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. But I don’t think this was quite the sort of greatness her childhood self had in mind. She didn’t wind up winning but Leah kept modeling and living a lifestyle that did nothing but hurt her in the long run. Then, one day, something happened. Leah had accepted a photo shoot modeling revealing clothes. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Leah had actually been raised religious. Her family were Catholics, they went to Mass every Sunday, and were overall pretty devout. Yet, at age 15 Leah lost her virginity. After that she had a string of relationships that involved giving herself to men who didn’t really care about her. Then of course, she got involved in modeling, wound up on “reality” TV, and after found herself at this photo shoot. That was where her reconversion (or reversion) happened.

I suppose we often think conversions happen during emotional and intimate conversations with super-holy people or maybe at a church or a park. But for Leah it was at that photo shoot. In what she described in terms of a vision, Leah was filled with the knowledge and the sense that this was not the greatness she had wanted when she was a child. God said to her: she was made for greatness…and this wasn’t it.

She told everyone she had to leave, she just had to. People told her she couldn’t just go and that she needed this for her portfolio. Leah got changed and was making for the door. The people kept talking, telling her she needed this for her career. They told her if she left she’d be a nobody. Then Leah turned and said in a voice that must have been so earnest and so desperate, “do you promise?” She wanted to be a nobody to these people. She didn’t want anyone to offer her these kind of jobs again. She wanted out.

Later that day she called her parents. And told her dad right off “if you don’t come get me I’m going to lose my soul.” Well, you can bet her dad came to get her! But before they left New York he said they should go to confession. She hadn’t been in a long time and tried to wriggle out of it: “oh, that’s a great idea, and you know dad we will go…when we get home.” But her dad saw right through that.

Now, for those of you who aren’t Catholic, I know there’s a lot of misunderstanding on what confession is. So, let me offer my I’m-not-a-theologian-but-I-know-something explanation. Basically, when a Catholic goes to confession, they start beforehand by looking at their life and seeing where they have failed and where they can do better. We call this an examination of conscience and it can be very humbling and very helpful. Then we enter the confessional and speak to the priest. However, he’s not just a priest. In confession, the priest represents Jesus; it is as if we are speaking to Him. We say how long its been since our last confession and tell our sins. Seems simple doesn’t that? (We’ll get back to it.) Then the priest may offer some advice or ask us to express our contrition for our sins in prayer. He tells us what penance we are to do for our sins. Most often it’s some form of prayer. For example: “say 3 our fathers” or “say a decade of the rosary while you meditate on ___” . Or it may be “apologize to that person you said you insulted” or what have you. Then the priest gives us absolution. By God’s power he forgives us of our sins. They are gone. Forever wiped away. Erased totally. And we begin afresh.

So, that may be a longer explanation of confession than you ever wanted to hear, but there it is. When Leah went into confession what she started by saying was to the effect of “I don’t want to be here.” But the priest helped her through it and in what I can imagine to be a very powerful experience she freely confessed her sins. It’s not always easy to do that, especially when you have some big ‘uns to confess or when you’ve been away from confession for a while. I know from experience. But I also know, and I’m confident Leah would agree, confession is powerful and healing. That’s why Jesus started it. Yeah, we could go pray privately and admit we’ve done wrong but there’s just something about having to look at yourself honestly and then say out loud to another person what it is you’ve done. It challenges you and heals you. The promiscuous lifestyle Leah led and what she told us in her talk were only “the tip of the iceberg” of everything she had done. But she was forgiven of all of it and all was forgotten.

Leah mentioned a quote in her talk and it’s a quote I love.

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness” -Pope Benedict XVI

Leah realized that the life she was living was not what God intended for her. It was not greatness. And the relationships she had, those were not greatness either. She was made for better. And so are all of us. We were all made for greatness and we need to stop settling, stop lying to ourselves, and stop accepting comfort from a world that doesn’t care a wink about us.

The life she lived in the reality TV/modeling world did give Leah some amazing insights that she shared. Firstly, reality TV is anything but real. A person is followed 24/7 (on Top Model there weren’t even doors on the bathrooms or curtains on the showers) for 7-10 days and then they take 45 ish minutes of that (and of course its the most drama-filled 45 minutes they can find out of all those days). And that’s what you see and what you judge people based on. Don’t fool yourselves you do judge. And so do I, sadly. Leah also gave some interesting statistics about modeling. Firstly, in women’s magazines 100% of the images of women are edited or enhanced in some way in post-production. In men’s magazines 63% (I may be mis- remembering by a percent) of the pictures of women are computer-generated. So, none of its real. Those models in women’s magazines don’t even look like that and a majority of the women in men’s magazines don’t even exist. Leah saw firsthand how living a lifestyle of hook-ups, revealing clothes, and selling yourself for other’s enjoyment damages a person. She also saw up-close and personal the methods industries use to sell their products and perpetuate this harmful lifestyle.

Surely we were made for more than this? For more than these doctored images, for more than accepting something fake as our standard of beauty. Greatness isn’t about physical appearance anyways. Look at Mother Teresa. She was an amazing, saintly, woman who never wore makeup any of those times you saw her on TV or in newspapers helping the poorest of the poor. But, because of her faith and trust in God she was able to do amazing and great things by following Him.

The dating culture of today, the hook-up culture–it doesn’t help anyone. It is not greatness. All those relationships Leah had when she was younger, that was not greatness. After that one fateful night when she was 15 Leah went into the bathroom and cried because she knew something was very wrong with what had just happened.

I think there’s a lot we can take away from Leah’s story about what is wrong with our culture and about who we are to be. But more than that we can see the power of forgiveness and see right before our eyes the truth that people do change, that a person leading that life doesn’t always have to lead that life. They can get out, just like Leah did and they can go on to live that greatness to which they are called.

For more information about Leah Darrow visit her website’s about page here.

The One About Modesty

I recently discovered the blog Guys on Modesty. It’s a great site and I highly recommend it! It also got me thinking about modesty…

Modesty is something I have strived for for years. But, everyone seems to have different rules about what they consider modest. And I’ve heard or seen both sides: the more lenient side and the especially conservative side. Some say a collar should be no more than two fingers breadth below the collarbone while others are okay with a whole hand width or even some cleavage. There’s different thoughts about skirts vs. pants and whether the changing face of society has any right to influence modesty.

But one thing that I hear over and over again is that modesty is to help men. Well, yes. That’s true. But. One article I read a while ago (and I wish I could remember where it was but I don’t) talked about modesty being more than that. Modesty is also about a woman respecting herself enough to not show herself as an object to men.

However, as this article from LifeTeen says, modesty can be downright annoying. I know I’ve been frustrated at times in my attempts at modesty. Not only are there no easy-to-follow rules, but even putting an outfit together can be enough to make you want to give up. I know I’ve felt that way. And don’t even get me started on shopping…

So why do it? For myself. For God. For society. Whatever your reason provocativeness is liable to be in there somewhere. Whether you see it as a way of not provoking guys or whether you see it as a way of respecting yourself and not encouraging guys to see you as a object, the goal is the same. We need to know, then, what guys actually think.

One of the things I discovered on the Guys on Modesty blog was a link to this survey: http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/browse

survey results

If you want to know what some guys REALLY think about modesty and the way girls dress and move look at this survey. Not every response is as clean-cut as this one, but it’s a good resource. I’m not saying it’s perfect. After all, they only surveyed so many guys. Their own website admits:

The Modesty Survey was not intended to serve as a scientific measurement of what the average man thinks about modesty. In the strictest sense, it isn’t a survey, but a discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty. Over 200 Christian girls submitted their questions. In less than twenty days, over 1,600 Christian guys (12 and up) responded. Close to 200,000 separate pieces of data were collected, including 25,000 text responses.

The point is that though modesty may be annoying, difficult and seem pointless on the surface, how we women dress really does affect the men we encounter every day and we should be aware of that. Let that knowledge empower you when you get dressed tomorrow morning. Respect yourself. And respect those around you. When you do, they’re likely to respect you too.

Note: Seems to me this will be the first of several blog posts on this topic, don’t let the title fool you.

What I Wish Every Girl Knew About Dating

I know a couple girls who are currently in relationships. One of these girls (let’s call her “Lisa”) is 17 and has a boyfriend who is 25. The other (“Mary”)  is only 14. I know both of these wonderful ladies well, and though I love them (or rather because I love them) I know they’re not ready for these relationships. But Mary is infatuated with her 16-year-old boyfriend. And Lisa feels breaking off her relationship would equal social suicide. So in those relationships, they remain. I pray God will direct and heal both these girls.

I’d like to share 10 tips about dating. Hopefully these will help any girl who reads them who happens to be in a bad relationship or who wants some advice on how to avoid them. So ladies, as you think about dating remember this:

1) You don’t need a boyfriend. I don’t care what anyone else says. You don’t. This is true. Repeat it over and over to yourself until it sinks in. It doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend or not. That does not determine your worth.

2) If you have a boyfriend he should not be the center of your world, social life, etc. It makes it hard if you determine he’s not the one.

3) Put God first, always. He should be the kind of man who doesn’t hinder your relationship with God, but rather strengthens it. And yes, those kind of men do exist.

4) Boys don’t stay with girls who have one-night stands. Save that for marriage ladies. Have some mystery to you, some feminine mystique. And, just be decent. There’s a lot more I could say. But that’s anther post.

5) “Find your bridesmaids before you find your groom” (from “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul” by Jason and Crystalina Evert). Also, find yourself first so that you won’t base your identity on him.

6) Your relationship is going to go one of two ways: either you’re going to get married or you’re going to break up. (I don’t remember where I saw this. But I love its simple truth.)

7) Please don’t date significantly older men. It just complicates things.

8) You and your BF should have the same ideas about marriage. That’s very important. For why, see number 6.

9) Don’t date until you’re ready. Your readiness to date is not dictated by society, your friends, or any guy. This is something you need to determine for you. Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you’re not ready for. After all, it’s you who will end up paying the price not them.

10) You are beautiful. End of story. No arguments. No “but”s. No. You are beautiful. And its not because of your boyfriend. You are beautiful because you are you. Don’t let anyone tell you different, not even your boyfriend.

These 10 points aren’t the only advice I could say on dating, but they’re a start. Above all, remember your own worth and think about the future.