One thing about February, other than being one of the most stressful months of the year for this teacher, is that for my Literature classes, I bring my junior and senior students towards books that focus on wisdom when it comes to romantic relationships (in keeping up with February being the love month).
The juniors read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, while the seniors read Boy Meets Girl, both books written by Joshua Harris. It is my goal that my students not only become excellent in academics, but excellent in life in general…and part of that means making wise decisions at love. That’s the reason why I have added some non-literature books in the Literature curriculum, complete with exams, assignments, etc.
In case you’re wondering, the school I teach in is The Abba’s Orchard (the main campus is here in Cagayan de Oro, but there are campuses in Manila, Cebu, and Davao), and I am a Literature and Humanities teacher in the Erdkinder (high school) program of the main farm campus.
A large number of my students are also very involved in various Christian youth ministries in Cagayan de Oro City (InsideOut, Lifebox, and JZone, mostly). This background info would explain the quotes that I would feature below.
Anyway, one of the assignments that the juniors have to make (remember, the Philippines only goes up to grade 10, so the juniors are grade 9 and are around 15 years old) is a seatwork titled, What Matters at 50, based on one of the latter chapters in I Kissed Dating Goodbye.
In that chapter, Joshua Harris says that we often focus too much on physical appearance often at the cost of what really matters, and he counters this in his own life by imagining the lovely lady at age 50…would he still be in love with her? This exercise would make character evaluation more important than physical attraction.
For the What Matters At 50 assignment, the juniors are asked about what they think is important in looking for a potential romantic partner. I asked permission to quote a few of my students here, as these entries blessed me tremendously.
One student said:
“By 50, I want to still see how handsome my husband is. Not physically in a sense that he still looks like he’s 17, but handsome in a way that God’s glory can be seen in him.
“Boys usually misunderstand girls and think that we’re looking for some ‘hunk’ with 10 pack abs and a body that can lift 100 kgs. But all we’re looking for, really, is someone who’ll still love us and tell us we’re beautiful when we reach the age of 50.
“What matters most at 50 is that his character pleases God and he still treats me nicely. One of the important traits that matters is that God is in the center of his life, in my life, and our marriage. When it’s like that, everything else will follow.”
“The most important thing I want him to have is God in his heart. I’m wishing that I could find a guy who will be able to put God first before anything, including me. I’m hoping I will develop this, too…to
be able to put the Man, Jesus, first before my man.”
Another student said the same thing…plus a humorous suggestion of having a butler…
“I am looking for someone who would put God even above me, someone who would always make God the focus of our relationship. I don’t want someone who would tend to my every need. I can always hire a butler to do that for me…We can both share the joy of intimacy and head towards a common goal, spiritual growth in Christ Jesus. I want someone who would walk with me towards Christ with our children following not only what we model, but what Christ models…I don’t want to just simply grow old with someone. I want to mature with someone in Christ.”
These kids, at 15, nailed it.
Boy Meets Girl is Joshua Harris’ best book in my opinion. Granted, if you know this book, you’re probably wondering why I show this to 16 year old teens. It’s not a book for teens, but for singles. This is my reason: later down the line, unless they go to the type of churches, mix with the type of peers, or have the type of parents who mentor the handling of romance the right way, they’re gonna be lost…and me and my co-workers won’t be around to mentor them anymore, either. So I bring them BMG early on, so they have a model, and what an excellent model it is.
Now, these 16 year olds (remember, we graduate them at grade 10) had to do an assignment called Romance with Purpose. That’s Joshua Harris’ battle cry in the book. The teens had to answer two questions for their assignment:
1. Is “liking” someone reason enough to pursue or engage in a romantic relationship with him/her?
2. In your own opinion, what kind of questions do you need to ask yourself before starting a relationship?
So, again, with permission, here are some quotes that my 16 year old students have made in answer to these questions:
Here's the first entry:
“I definitely do not think that ‘liking’ someone is enough reason to pursue or engage in a romantic relationship. I mean, if you base your qualification to pursue a girl just because you ‘like’ that person, you are gonna die!
“One way or another, that relationship is bound to go the wrong way and both parties will end up hurt in some way. Before getting into a relationship, I think you have to ask the following questions:
1. Do you love God above all?
2. Is it the will of God that I get into this relationship?
3. Am I financially prepared and stable?
4. Can I see this person as my future spouse?
5. Am I emotionally whole/stable?
“These are the questions I would ask myself…I don’t want a fling. I want romance with a purpose – something with real, long-term direction.”
Another student matter-of-factly explains:
“Relationships, especially romantic ones, cannot be based on ‘like.’ Anyone can like someone; it’s not that hard…relationships should, at the very least, be based on mutual respect, the correct motive (to find out if you want to marry this person), level of maturity, and the circumstances.”
I also like this girl’s strong statements on both questions:
“Most definitely not! Just because you ‘like’ that person doesn’t mean you are good for him/her and he/she is good for you…there are good things in life, but not all good things are right. Emotions just fade after a while, so you better think again: do you really love this person or are you experiencing puppy love?
[In answering the second part of the assignment] “Firstly, are you ready for marriage? I agree 100% to what Joshua Harris says about courtship. If you just want to fool around then you are just setting yourself up for heartache, regret, and emptiness.
“Next, are you ready spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or even physically? (Not saying that a physical relationship is necessary, because it’s not. I just mean for dates and stuff.) I think that courtship is about serving the other half. Being the comfort they need…love, after all, is selfless and it asks for nothing in return. If you don’t see things like that they you are robbing that person out of your own selfishness.”
Another student gives his thoughts:
“No. I think that liking someone is natural, but it takes a LOT more than that to decide if you were to get in a romantic relationship. There are questions you will need to ask yourself before pursuing a relationship.
“I think you need to ask yourself if you’re really ready by asking yourself if it’s the right time. The right time meaning you have finished with other priorities…”
Again, they nailed it, and answers like these make me absolutely love my job. I enjoy teaching about Literature and Humanities, but I LLLLOOOOOVVVE teaching about life, especially this topic.
If you’re a parent of a teen, especially a teen who struggles in the area of premature or unwise relationships, I suggest you buy the books I mentioned here, as well as Joshua Harris’ 3rd book, Sex is Not A Problem (Lust Is) and go through them with your teen. (I recommend these three books, along with several others, in this blog entry here)
Also, like I mentioned earlier, all the students I quoted above (except one) belong to a youth ministry, and this is a HUGE factor in why they answered the way they answered. Not all my students answered like this…but all the ones who did are the youth min kids, whose families also go to the type of churches that these youth organizations belong to, like mine.
With every fiber in my body, I want to encourage you to bring your teen to these kinds of groups. They are absolutely vital in developing your teen into the person that God wants him or her to be.
Speaking of my church, its youth ministry, JZone is holding its summer camp, called ALL IN, next month in the awesome venue of Bagalangit Ultimate Bivouac. Camps like these are a good way to introduce your teen to these kinds of youth groups. Have your teen sign up! I’m making a new blog entry about it, actually, but right now, you can check out the video and the pic.
Of course, you’d probably be asking questions about the school, too. You can check out my blog entries about The Abba’s Orchard’s high school, elementary, and high school programs here.
I’m convinced that three great environments are vital to molding a young person into greatness: a great home, a great school, and a great church. The above students (as well as students in my past blog articles: Teens Who Wait, M&M, and A radio station interviews my student) are examples of what can happen when all three are in place.
You can help your teen get this as well.