The Apple Tree, Part 1

appletree

Though some social media should never be allowed on cyber space, I came across this gem quote by Pete Wentz in an email years ago.  I can’t vouch for him and his lifestyle choice, but I do appreciate his insight when it comes to women and their value.

“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’re afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead they get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples up top think that something’s wrong with them when in reality they’re amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along – the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.”

Ever felt as though you were one of those apples at the top of the tree, totally invisible to any suitable candidate because you were so high above the ground?  You watch with envy when the other young women get snatched up and whisked away to their fairytale romance, and you’re left hanging from the highest branch…waiting.

I know how it feels.  I was thirty-two when I got married.  My high standards and desire for God’s best kept me “hanging” for years.  However, when I looked at some of the other “apples” and what they had to go through to get their man, hanging didn’t look so bad.  I refused to be one of those “easy” girls.  I wanted to be listed in the category of “amazing.”  I wanted to attract the guy “who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top.”  I realized, though, that attracting the right one comes with a price…the price of sticking to what makes me who I am.

Like I did for a season, the world looks at a person and finds that person’s value in what that person can do.  Look at Hollywood.  Very rarely do you see a magazine headline boasting about a woman’s virtues: “Sally Smith Is Voted ‘Most Virtuous Woman’ in 2016!”  Instead, you’ll see them applauding a person’s acting ability, great talents, or amazing beauty.  All of it is based on what that person can do or what they like.  But God declares that a person’s value is based on who they are as God’s creation and on the love He has for them, regardless of their talents or looks.  God looks at the heart when it comes to deciding a person’s worth.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

God made you amazing! David said in Psalm 139:14, I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  He placed in your unique characteristics that make you you, that make your life interesting to both you and the people around you.  Your life is colored by your talents, personality, likes and dislikes.  But who you are is the most important part about you.

My favorite verse since I was a teenager has been Proverbs 31:30:  Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised. Your maturity, your lifestyle, and your godly character are what counts in a relationship.  They are the attributes that will stand for eternity and never fade with age.  They’re free, and you can have them without being the next Hilton or Lopez.

If you’re a young woman whose focus is on being like Jesus, your desire will be to use your look, talents, and abilities to advance the Kingdom of God.  If you use those talents to try to attract a boy, you will be very disappointed.  Who you are determines the man that you attract.  Do you want a man who is only attracted to your looks and talents, or a man that values what God’s desires most in a person?  A man who only appreciates your body or your amazing singing voice will be a man that abandons you when those things fade and times get tough.  That would be the man going for the “easy apple.”

The Easy Apple

Miss Easy is the type of girl who’s desperate for a relationship.  She hangs around the trunk of the tree, hoping that the right man for her will see her in plain sight and sweep her off her feet.  The problem is that Miss Easy Apple’s method of attracting a guy to her life is based on the shallow exterior.  As a result, who she attracts will be someone attracted to exactly what she’s flaunting—shallow charm and beauty.  In the book of Proverbs, this woman is considered very foolish.

Flattery

Flattery is excessive or insincere praise.  Miss Easy often uses this trait to get a man’s attention by raving on and on about his looks or talents.  Since men thrive on affirmation, a guy that uses flattery himself will rise to the occasion.   This means is setting Miss Easy up for heartbreak because she’ll soon find that everything Mr. Easy’s been saying to her wasn’t from his heart.  Though Mr. Brave likes affirmation like every other man, he sees right through her shallow praise.

Flirtation

Like flattery, flirting is based on selfishness. Some people just think it’s cute, but it’s making a demand on someone to focus on them, but for the wrong reasons.  The guys who respond to flirting are the ones who do plenty of it themselves—with whichever girl is closest.   Excessive flirtation, on the other hand, makes Mr. Brave nauseous.

Foolish Friends

Miss Easy also likes to hang around the “in” crowd because she thinks it will cause her to be more accepted.  This “hangout” might give her a chance with one of those hot guys everyone raves over.  This action will also turn out disappointing.  Most of the time, the popular crowd is made up of peers who sport worldly lifestyles and everything Miss Easy should avoid if she really wants to get somewhere in life.  Mr. Brave doesn’t hang out there, but Mr. Easy sure does!

No Plan for the Future

Miss Easy’s main plan for her future is romance.  Her world revolves around the next date.  No matter what she does, her mind immediately goes to the men who will potentially be there.  If she applies for a new job, she considers the male employees.  If she goes to the store, she wonders what man she might run into.  Her focus is consistently revolving around little more than gratifying her romance life.  If she does happen to get an exciting idea to attend college or help in her church, the nagging idea of another boyfriend is not far behind.  Unfortunately, any man who’s focus is on Jesus will find that life’s mission in another young woman very shallow.  Only Mr. Easy finds her unending spontaneity enticing.

Lack of Integrity

Integrity is a near-lost art to Miss Easy.  She is so engrossed in promoting her life and her relationships that she will do anything to get it.  A little fib here and there doesn’t seem to faze her as long as she gets what she wants.   That lack of integrity shows up in more than her work ethic, however. It shows up in her relationships as well.  She will put on a “good girl” face and tell a few sweet lies to get a guy to think she’s something more than she really is.  This will eventually backfire, however, because even Mr. Easy will eventually see through her charade.  Mr. Brave will steer clear from the very start.

Foolishness

Because of her lack of integrity, Miss Easy tends to make foolish decisions based on the way she feels.  Her money very quickly disappears at the mall or online.  She agrees to make deals with people because it looks good on the surface.  Being led by the Holy Spirit, of course, isn’t even considered.  Again and again her foolish lifestyle draws her away from stability and the life God had always intended for her to have.  In the meantime, Mr. Brave is going in the opposite direction, while foolish Mr. Easy is in hot pursuit.

External Value

Miss Easy craves beauty, but like charm, it’s deceitful.  It not only can change; it will change. There’s not a person on this planet who doesn’t undergo a shift in appearance as the years go by.  Because her value and means of attracting guys is all wrapped around the exterior, this attribute is especially important to Miss Easy.  She’ll “dress to impress” and spend hours preparing to flaunt herself.  She sees her worth in how she looks as if that’s the only significant part of her.  Mr. Easy will be instantly attracted for all the wrong reasons, but Mr. Brave will decline because of the lack of virtue he sees in her heart.

To be continued…

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17 Tips to Help You “Love Tough” – James Dobson


Let me get very specific with those of you who are single but wish someday to be married. (No insult is intended to those who are single by design and wish to remain unmarried. That is a legitimate choice that should be respected by friends and family, alike.) Listed below are seventeen suggestions that will help you conform to the principles of loving toughness in matters of the heart.
1. Don’t let the relationship move too fast in its infancy. The phrase “too hot not to cool down” has validity. Relationships that begin in a frenzy frequently burn themselves out. Take it one step at a time. 

2. Don’t discuss your personal inadequacies and flaws in great detail when the relationship is new. No matter how warm and accepting your friend may be, any great revelation of low self-esteem or embarrassing weaknesses can be fatal when interpersonal “valleys” occur. And they will occur. 
3. Remember that respect precedes love. Build it stone upon stone. 
4. Don’t call too often on the phone or give the other person an opportunity to get tired of you. 
5. Don’t be too quick to reveal your desire to get married–or that you think you’ve just found Mr. Wonderful or Miss Marvelous. If your partner has not arrived at the same conclusion, you’ll throw him or her into panic. 
6. Most important: Relationships are constantly being “tested” by cautious lovers who like to nibble at the bait before swallowing the hook. This testing procedure takes many forms, but it usually involves pulling backward from the other person to see what will happen. Perhaps a foolish fight is initiated. Maybe two weeks will pass without a phone call. Or sometimes flirtation occurs with a rival. In each instance, the question being asked is “How important am I to you, and what would you do if you lost me?” An even more basic issue lies below that one. 
It wants to know, “How free am I to leave if I want to?” It is incredibly important in these instances to appear poised, secure, and equally independent. Do not grasp the other person and beg for mercy. Some people remain single throughout life because they cannot resist the temptation to grovel when the test occurs. 
7. Extending the same concept, keep in mind that virtually every dating relationship that continues for a year or more and seems to be moving toward marriage will be given the ultimate test. A breakup will occur, motivated by only one of the lovers. The rejected individual should know that their future together depends on the skill with which he or she handles that crisis. If the hurting individual can remain calm, as Shirley did with me, the next two steps may be reconciliation and marriage. It often happens that way. If not, then no amount of pleading will change anything. 
8. Do not depend entirely upon one another for the satisfaction of every emotional need. Maintain interests and activities outside that romantic relationship, even after marriage. 
9. Guard against selfishness in your love affair. Neither the man nor the woman should do all the giving. I once broke up with a girl because she let me take her to nice places, bring her flowers, buy her lunch, etc. I wanted to do these things but expected her to reciprocate in some way. She didn’t. 
10. Beware of blindness to obvious warning signs that tell you that your potential husband or wife is basically disloyal, hateful, spiritually uncommitted, hooked on drugs or alcohol, given to selfishness, etc. Believe me, a bad marriage is far worse than the most lonely instance of singleness.
11. Beginning early in the dating relationship, treat the other person with respect and expect the same in return. A man should open doors for a woman on a formal evening; a woman should speak respectfully of her escort when in public, etc. If you don’t preserve this respectful attitude when the foundations of marriage are being laid, it will be virtually impossible to construct them later. 
12. Do not equate human worth with flawless beauty or handsomeness! If you require physical perfection in your mate, he or she may make the same demands of you. Don’t let love escape you because of the false values of your culture. 
13. If genuine love has escaped you thus far, don’t begin believing “no one would ever want me.” That is a deadly trap that can destroy you emotionally! Millions of people are looking for someone to love. The problem is finding one another! 
14. Regardless of how brilliant the love affair has been, take time to “check your assumptions” with your partner before committing yourself to marriage. It is surprising how often men and women plunge toward matrimony without ever becoming aware of major differences in expectation between them. For example:
a. Do you want to have children? How soon? How many?

b. Where will you live?

c. Will the wife work? How soon? How about after children are born?

d. Who will lead in the relationship? What does that really mean?

e. How will you relate to your in-laws?

f. How will money be spent?

g. How important will spiritual matters be in the marriage?

These and dozens of other “assumptions” should be discussed item by item with the help of a premarital counselor. Many future struggles can be avoided by coming to terms with potential areas of disagreement. If the differences are great enough, it is even possible that the marriage should never occur. 
15. Sexual familiarity can be deadly to a relationship. In addition to the many moral, spiritual, and physical reasons for remaining virgins until marriage, there are numerous psychological and interpersonal advantages as well. Though it’s an old-fashioned notion, perhaps, it is still true that men do not respect “easy” women and often become bored with those who have held nothing in reserve. Likewise, women often disrespect men who have only one thing on their minds. Both sexes need to remember how to use a very ancient word. It’s pronounced “NO!” 
16. Country singer Tom T. Hall wrote a song in which he revealed an understanding of the concept we have been describing. His lyric read, “If you hold love too loosely then it flies away; if you hold love too tightly, it’ll die. It’s one of the mysteries of life.”(4) Hall’s observation is accurate. If the commitment between a man and a woman is given insufficient importance in their lives, it will wither like a plant without water. The whole world knows that much. But fewer lovers seem to realize that extreme dependency can be just as deadly to a love affair. It has been said that the person who needs the other least will normally be in control of the relationship. I believe that to be true. 
17. There is nothing about marriage that eliminates the basic need for freedom and respect in romantic interactions. Keep the mystery and the dignity in your relationship. If the other partner begins to feel trapped and withdraws for a time, grant him or her some space and pull back yourself. Do not build a cage around that person. Instead, release your grip with confidence while never appeasing immorality or destructive behavior. 

By Doctor James Dobson