It all began with a movie—this stirring in my heart and sudden journey back to my teenage years. I was curled up on a couch in a darkened room, my eyes fixed on the television screen as a classic tale unfolded before me. Catherine, a young woman of seventeen, was being introduced to the high life in 18th century Bath, England, by family friends. I sank back in my seat, thankful for a chance to watch something light after a busy day, and let my mind and emotions be caught up in the story.
This teenage girl, bubbling with excitement, was eager to embrace all the new experiences Bath had to offer. With dark hair, fair complexion and wondering blue eyes, she was a picture of beauty and naivety. What she didn’t realise was the way this innocence would make her a target, the pressure she would face from others to fit in with their desires. Very quickly, Catherine found herself being manipulated by a girl she’d just met and clutched at by the girl’s determined brother.
I watched in dismay as Catherine wrestled between wanting to trust her new friends and feeling uncertain about what they were asking of her. The times she followed their suggestions brought trouble and proved her hesitation was right. Yet, she didn’t seem able to resist them. They continued pushing her to fit in with their plans, and she wavered back and forth, struggling to make a decision. More than once, I found myself groaning and crying, “No!” on Catherine’s behalf, tormented and exasperated by what I was seeing.
Later on, I found myself mulling over the story. Why had it stirred such strong emotion in me—such agitation and desperation to snatch this girl out of her predicament and talk sense to her?
My motives were dual, I think.
One, I was aware my fourteen-year-old daughter was watching and wanted her to understand the folly of this girl’s choices.
Two, while the movie was fictional, there were ways Catherine’s story reminded me of my own, and I didn’t want her character to make the same mistakes I did.
Sheltered young women are easily charmed—swept off their feet by whispers of romance, convinced of the genuineness of any male who uses just the right words and tone of voice. The moment a guy shows even a hint of romantic interest, we attach to them all the noble traits of the hero from every novel we’ve read, every movie we’ve seen.
I was the naïve female when I was Catherine’s age. I was the one so eager to take part in all the fun the older girls enjoyed, keen to be noticed and admired—perhaps even loved.
That hunger made me vulnerable.
Several times between fifteen and seventeen I was fooled—first by a middle-aged family friend, then an older boy from school, then a former teacher. They spoke tenderly, told me I was beautiful, charmed me with acts of kindness—like no one else had. Their actions drew me in, despite the uneasiness swelling within me, the racing heart and trembling hands and queasy stomach. Three times I was drawn in, and three times I found myself in a situation I had to flee.
Those experiences taught me this—a guy’s words and actions may give the appearance of devotion, but his heart can lie far from the mark.
In our youth, when our emotions soar and plummet and our minds have trouble holding a steady course, our imagination can quickly carry us away from reason and protection. Our longing for love and attention burns so strong, it can lead us into deception and disappointment—even danger. We girls, with hearts full of dreams and limited life experience, need discernment, to know the difference between genuine care and a well-crafted performance. We also need support and accountability from someone older—the very things we shun in our battle for independence.
We can take a lesson from another movie, “Frozen”—also fictional yet loaded with truth—and beware of the guy with all the right moves. Chances are, as with Prince Hans, a very different man lurks under the shiny façade.
A genuine heart is one that will hold steady through the tests—flawed and fallible, but genuine in their devotion—to you and, for a Christian, to God.
Above all, we need to wait for the guy who has God’s stamp of approval. There is no better foundation for a relationship than the certainty that your Creator, who knows you best and loves you most, has hand-picked someone for you—and you for them. A relationship established by Him is a true match made in heaven. I know. I’ve been living that reality for the last twenty-five years, and it was absolutely worth the wait.
God’s timing is often so different to ours and it’s easy to get impatient. But the single years are not meant to be spent sitting around, waiting for the man of his choice. God has much more in mind.
Be Faithful - Seek God as your number one, your first love. This is something married women also need to do. God alone is the satisfier of our soul, our greatest lover (in the purest sense of the word), the one who can touch places in us far deeper than any person can reach. Trust Him to take care of all your needs, including your longing for love and intimacy.
Be Focused – Pursue God and seek to walk in His ways, without compromise. Don’t settle for less than His best—in your life and your relationships.
Be Flexible – Seek to be soft clay in God’s hands, allowing Him to mould and shape you for His purposes. He knows what lies ahead and wants to get you ready.
Be Fruitful – Find out what God has for you to do now and give it your best. There is no greater joy than partnering with Him as He does good in people’s lives.
'Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.'
'Daughters . . . I charge you . . . Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.'
SONG OF SONGS 2:7, 3:5, 8:4
'But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.'
Writer and blogger, Susan Brown, has a passion to see people walking in freedom, identity and purpose. Whether in her work as an occupational therapist, raising her four children, speaking to groups or offering learning support to children and teens, her desire has always been to help people thrive. A strong believer in the power of authenticity, Susan often shares her struggles, failures and learnings with others, offering understanding and support as they work through their own challenges. When she’s not writing or working, Susan’s favourite way to relax is to immerse herself in a good story, preferably while reclined in a deep, gently swaying hammock. In her more energetic moments, she plunges herself into gardening, cooking, walking local trails with her husband or playing in the waves at the nearest surf beach. After twenty-five years in Launceston, Tasmania, Susan has recently moved to Wollongong, south of Sydney, where she lives with her husband, Mark, and three of their children. Her memoir Skinny Girl: A Journey Through Anorexia was published in 2021.