The Girl Who Tried Very Hard

Red hearts on padlocks

Post #6 in A Tale of Two Covenants

It’s been a while since I dipped my feet in the waters of relationships, love and dating. So how about we go for a swim?

Let’s dive in!

What’s this business about the covenant of grace and how does it affect your love life? The first part is “easy”. Just head on and enjoy this summary here.

Now, as to the second part of the question: how does living under the grace covenant affect your love life?

Well, let’s do what I like to do, paint you a picture… in words, of course! And maybe you’ll find that it’s someone you know and their story that I just happened to tell…

There was a girl, a woman…

Let’s call her… hmm… did you say Anne? Yes, Anne is a lovely name.

So Anne tried very hard to stay on track, do the right thing always, and still be cool. But he was so loving. And kind.

He was exactly the kind of man her parents would approve of. No shabby hair that was fashionable among a lot of men these days. No oversized shirts or sagging trousers. If it was supposed to be tucked in, it was tucked in. And the belt was in its proper place, too. Just below the waist, secured firmly above the hip so that no one but him would know the colour of his boxers.

And all that was wrapped up in a dashing package. If you asked her, she would say he was the handsomest man in the world.

And he was a good man. He took care of her. No stressful conversations about who was going to pay for what. In this economy, that was a huge plus. A miracle, almost.

She felt very comfortable when she was with him. She could see herself married to him already. And he could, too. Sometimes, they would talk about it. And sometimes, they would practice how it would look like. Just a kiss. That’s all. It made her feel as if she was high on something. Especially when it went slightly beyond a kiss. Which is why the guilt she felt afterwards was unwelcome.

Sometimes she asked him how he felt. He said they needed to take it one day at a time. Whatever felt good couldn’t be wrong. His answers were not very satisfactory.

And then one day, he told her he was leaving. Abroad. To further his studies. This was the first time she was hearing of it. Well, she knew he always wanted to go abroad. But she assumed when the time came, they would be going together. Or something. Not this sudden announcement.

This was not in the plan.

She tried to look happy for him because a part of her really was happy for him. He would be leaving in two months. A thought started to form that this wasn’t something that had just happened.

What about us? Anne wanted to know.

His expression changed from gleeful to serious. You know how these things are, he started to explain. I can’t hold you down. It won’t be fair to you. I’ll be gone for two years, at the very least.

Oh, she wasn’t the smartest student in any class but she certainly wasn’t dumb. But at that moment, she decided to ask a dumb question.

Was he breaking up with her?

He looked horrified. Of course notbut long-distance relationships were always tricky.

Aha! There it was again. He was breaking up with her.

Even before he flew away the next month, his calls became less and less.

And then one day, he appears at her door and says he is very sorry. Can he have something memorable to leave with? She gives in. The next day, he’s gone.

She begins to wonder what just happened. She cries, she hates herself.  

She feels guilty. How could she have been so stupid?

She promises herself to never give in to a smooth-talking man again.

She asks the Lord to forgive her and promises to never even kiss a man on the cheek before she’s married.

She embarks on a fourteen-day fast just to prove to the Lord how serious she is.

Until one day, in the middle of her fast, while still feeling miserable and even more miserable for missing church, Anne comes across Romans 8 and is about to skim over it when just like that, she sees something she hasn’t seen before.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Anne stops there.

The truth is that Anne wants love. But Anne also wants to glorify Jesus. Anne doesn’t want to deliberately go and mess herself up. But she doesn’t know how to go about it. All she hears is how she has to abstain before marriage. All she hears is fornicators will go to hell. And all she hears is true.

Except all she’s hearing isn’t giving her the power to do what she needs to do- to avoid sin. Because laws and commandments are being thrown at her and the strength of sin is the law (oh, did you miss that post? Get the gist here).

So Anne wants to do right but she keeps slipping up- one kiss there, one touch here, in fact, she’s not even convinced it’s wrong. Where in the Bible does it say it’s wrong? Where indeed? But why does she feel guilty? She can’t get away from the guilt. So she’s stuck in this see saw of emotions, rationalization and uncertainty.

Until Romans 8 verse 1. It’s not even the part about sin which jumps out at her. It’s the part about no condemnation. It’s the same thing Jesus gave the woman caught in adultery.

So Anne mulls over it.

And Anne realizes (after maybe reading a few High On Grace posts because Anne is our friend)- she realizes that condemnation is the problem. She has been condemning herself. But under the new covenant of grace, there is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t say she wouldn’t sin, but it says that even if she does, there is no condemnation.

And the beauty about no condemnation is that it gives her the power to NOT sin.

Not to get stuck in the same cycle of epic falls and failure. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set her free from the law of sin and death.

(If you were wondering about how to break out of that niggling sin that bothers you over and over again, well, now you know. Condemnation breeds guilt and guilt traps you in sin.)

Romans 8. Anne is stuck there for a while. Happily stuck.

She admits to the Lord that she made a colossal mistake with this suave looking man.

She sees that she was ignoring the little but significant danger signals.

She asks the Lord for wisdom to spot fakes (even in church!) from afar.

She decides to trust the Lord to bring her a good man…who still dresses well.

Then guess what Anne does next? She goes to the fridge and tears open a bar of chocolate. And it’s oh so delicious! That officially ends her fasting. Because she was fasting for all the wrong reasons. She enjoys the chocolate and doesn’t feel guilty.

The next day, she goes for young adults’ service and doesn’t feel guilty when she raises her hands in worship.

 At night, thoughts of that one night with him shoot across her mind and she remembers Romans 8 verse 1 and goes back to bed.

Weeks later, a strange number sends her an “I miss you” message on WhatsApp. Anne looks at it and decides to be mischievous. “My girlfriend just stepped out,” she replies. “What do you want?”

She never hears from him again.

Anne more than survives. The emotional baggage she thought she’d have and probably carry into her next relationship has fallen off.

And we’ll leave Anne now until another time because if you’re like me, then you’ll be curious to know how she fares in her next relationship with the boyfriend who made her think the lines, just say what you want and I’ll get it for you my love were written for her.

So, you’ve come this far. Amazing!

Here’s today’s grace covenant truth in a nutshell:

What matters is your response when you fail.

Your past is your past. It doesn’t determine your future. Receive the gift of no condemnation and step into a bold future where you’re loved and are the righteousness of God in Christ. And even when you slip, remember that you are in Christ and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

And girl, if you and boyfriend are in dark corners doing things, or he’s asking you to mess around and you feel you’re from another planet because you don’t want to get down like that, well, good news, you are!

Oh guys, don’t come after me. Maybe you are also in the same situation. And we’ll probably dedicate a whole post to the guys, too. After all, Joseph was in a nice fix with Potiphar’s wife.

Until next time, stay high on grace 🙂

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