Emotional Maturity as a Young Woman with an Unbelieving Family

Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography, Compfight, CC
Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography, Compfight, CC

By Mrs. S. B. H. E., Originally published here, Aug. 8, 2005

Purity is a concept that is intriguingly beautiful. When thinking of purity, a pure, white lamb comes to mind–one with no blemishes, flecks of dirt, or streaks of mud. While this concept so readily comes to mind, it does not as readily spring out of one’s life. We are sinners, and, unless we are saved by Grace, we have no hope for righteous living (I John 1:9).

As a child, I became a Christian in a non-Christian home. While turning to the homes of Christian friends for brief respites, I struggled with the reality of my own home. I had a heart for living a pure life, and when I watched “The Waltons” or “Little House on the Prairie,” my heart ached for a “Pa” to sing hymns with after he read the Bible to our family. But, no, the only Bible in our home was a large leather-bound tome that sat primly on the coffee table and was never opened.

From the age of eleven, I navigated the waters of faith independently. It was natural to me to call a friend for a ride to church. I read my Bible with my door shut, hiding it after finishing to avoid teasing from my siblings (some of whom are now Christians!). But as closely as I guarded my spiritual life, there is one truth which I did not know or comprehend. I did not understand the iron-clad link between my spiritual life and my emotional life. I did not understand the need for purity emotionally in order to protect my walk with God.

Doomed to Fail

Without God’s framework for righteousness, my family was doomed to fall into moral failure. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. Within my brothers and sisters, I witnessed rebellion, drinking, smoking, drug use, sexual promiscuity, and abortion. Amazingly, I was able to witness these actions and walk away almost unscathed. I say “almost,” because the memory of these events is still a scar on my heart that makes me shudder. These are things that I wish I did not know, and I still weep over these scars.

I am grateful that I was able to meet each and every vice thrown at me with fortitude and endurance. However, there was one area in which I was weak. I was weak in my emotional reserves. I had parents who cared for me; I was provided with the best of everything. Unfortunately, from my father’s temper, I experienced wild swings like a pendulum–ranging from love to rage.

A Disaster In My Life

When I was in high school, my father hit what he likes to describe as his “mid-life crisis.” All I know is that my world was shattered as he left our home for the next seven years (my parents reunited and have now been married for 49 years). When my father left, my mom was devastated, and a brother and I became her sole support. The plain, cold facts were that under the guise of a job out of town, my father was having an affair. Interestingly enough, I did not know about the affair until it was over many years later. But as a young maiden, I would have loved the tenderloving care of my daddy; instead, I experienced a distance from him that was heartbreakingly confusing. I know now that his distance was related to his affair.

Putting the Pieces Together

Hindsight is 20/20, and I have come to understand what happened in my young life. My daddy left at a time when I was very vulnerable as a growing girl. I was no longer playing with dolls. I was becoming a woman and desperately needed reassurance that I had direction and a path of hope laid out before me. In his own faltering way, my father did communicate to me the vision of a good education and a successful job. These were things which were important to him. However, as a young Christian, my heart craved and needed vision of another sort–vision from and of God!

I believe very firmly in the Genesis account of creation. I know without a shadow of a doubt that women are created to be completers of men. Just as Pascal described a “God-shaped void” in the life of every human heart, I believe that there is a place in a woman’s heart that is prepared especially for the task of being a helper “meet” for a man. The Lord has led me to understand that it is the vital job of a father to speak vision into his daughter’s life about this role. The vision that I did not receive from my father was a vision for emotional purity in a life devoted to God.

My Mistake

When I did not receive assurance, attention, and love from my father, I unconsciously sought it elsewhere. Never having been “boy-crazy,” I nevertheless sought a leader. I was a very confused Christian, and although I knew that I should yoke myself only with a believer, I had no understanding of what to look for in one. In actuality, I should not have been looking at all! But it is the hard truth that I was seeking someone to follow.

Although I did eventually start to date a Christian, this young man was a very immature believer. I think now that he was worse off than I was. He came from a home where both of his parents had died, and he was raised by his brother. We were a disaster waiting to happen! As we discussed “spiritual” things, our hearts knit together emotionally, and we leaned heavily upon each other. We became family. It was not long before I had totally given my heart, emotions, and life to this young man, totally bypassing the authority of my father. Unknowingly, I also gave away my love for the Lord. Thankfully, the Lord did bring me out of that unhealthy relationship, but not before much pain that ripped and scarred my tender heart. When this young man left my life, it took a few wrenching years before I healed in the Lord.

Young Ladies, Please Guard Your Hearts

As I have written this article, I have found myself weeping at the keyboard. My life has been such a mess, yet I now find it pure and clear and clean in the Lord. He has been so amazingly gracious to me. He has healed my emotions and made me white as snow. I now have a precious, wonderful, godly man as my husband. We have six (so far) precious souls that we love and treasure. God has “restor[ed] the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

But young ladies, I weep because my life did not have to be that way. I could have made different choices. I could have stayed closer to the Lord. But instead of searching the Word for direction, I sought my boyfriend for direction! So what is my advice to you? I urge you to guard your hearts. I urge you to take care how you walk. I urge you to steadfastly protect your emotions and to stay close to the Lord.

How can you do this if you are a young lady with a non-Christian family?

  • Read the Bible every day. Stay in the Word and keep a journal of scripture that the Lord presses upon your heart, as well as prayers and answers! This record will encourage you in the future and will be a blessing to future generations.
  • Pray about every decision and make only decisions that line up with the Bible.
  • Find godly people for help. Share your heart with them. Listen to them, and search the Bible with them for answers to your questions.
  • Realize that we are all sinners, and if you have sinned, the Lord offers grace and forgiveness. Turn to Him, confess and start again.
  • If you have sinful habits, behaviors, or relationships, do a “180!” What does that mean? It means to turn totally around and go in the opposite direction. Run! Flee from sin! Don’t do a “360” and return to your sin!
  • REALIZE THAT TO GUARD YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE YOU MUST GUARD YOUR EMOTIONS. Don’t give your heart away to anyone else. Even if your father does not want the responsibility of guarding your heart, JESUS CHRIST WANTS TO GUARD IT! Give your heart to Him unreservedly.
  • Set up accountability with other believers, as you will not be receiving that accountability from your family.
  • Seek Him, praise Him, and give thanks to Him daily. Even though your life may not be picture perfect, there is hope. Your life can be a rich testimony of God’s love for you. Your life may bring your family into His fold! Your life can be preparation now for that godly man the Lord may choose for you.
  • Your life can be beautiful every day for Him. Seize the day for the Lord alone, and He will bless your faithfulness!

I pray that each of you young women will live lives that will be a sweet savor that will draw many to Christ. I pray that you will have joy and peace and happiness even in the midst of your trials. The Bible promises us trials and tribulations. Rejoice in them. Rejoice in the family He has given you. Live faithfully and watch in awe as the Lord works on your behalf, as your Father to protect and guide you with His vision for your life.

© Copyright 2002-2015 by LAF/BeautifulWomanhood.org

3 thoughts on “Emotional Maturity as a Young Woman with an Unbelieving Family

  1. Yes, it is interesting that most of the literature on courtship and betrothal portrays it as being a child of a Christian covenant family being married to a child from another Christian covenant family. No-one seems to think overmuch as to how we pastor children from non-Christian families, much less evangelise them in the first place.

    I put it like that because the trouble this woman went through might have been avoided with some sort of involvement like that; and certainly in the life of the young man involved. But I also fear that our idea of ‘perfect families’ is such that young people who aren’t in that situation, are overlooked too easily.

    As usual, comments/criticisms of these views welcome.


    1. Your comments are always welcome here. We appreciate your insight. I’d love to hear what your reading list is if you wouldn’t mind sharing titles. I agree that we need to think on these terms as well. It’s not always the case that a daughter, alone can affect a reformation within her own family the family has to be willing. It may also be the case that God is resisting the proud and she will not see family reformation in her lifetime. That doesn’t mean she lacks vision for it. It just means that it may happen in the family she produces should she marry instead of her parent’s family.

      Indeed restoring the family as a whole is a good aim but sometimes it seems the weight of that full restoration is on her shoulders, daughters become over responsible for things they are not and marriage hangs in the balance unless there is a full transformation. We need to be keen to what work the Lord is doing in a family. Perhaps he’s turned one heart and no others. The work is ultimately the Lord’s.

      Certainly, a young lady is often ill-effected by a failing influence of unbelieving family. But we forget grace and a perfect heavenly father who supplies all our needs. It is often the case that first generation Christians have a zeal and dynamic about them because they are called out alone and suffer greater persecution. God is able.


  2. Hi, and back to the Editor

    * Your article, “The tale of two women”, which you have just posted, makes much the same point as I have been trying to get at. We are so enamoured of the idea of living a ‘neat life’, that the fact that there are Christians who are in not-so-neat situations, often escapes us.

    * Hence my own comments. My own background reading relevant to this thread is CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, generally; and the rest of what I say is not so much about my reading, as it is about the real-life situations I get to see. If the LAF community are doing *anything* to reach out with the Gospel, they are going to come across these situations.

    So let’s talk these ideas around and see what we can learn! Blessings …


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