During a recent and confusing time of my life, God provided helpful advice through the Botkin sisters. “It’s (not that) Complicated: How to Relate to Guys in a Healthy, Sane and Biblical Way” by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin is a great resource for young women striving to glorify God in all their relationships. Many times we unmarried women are at a loss of how to communicate and relate to our unmarried Brothers in Christ. This book clarifies and encourages our role in loving and encouraging the men in our lives, despite our unmarried state.
There is the tendency to “avoid” any and all unmarried men just because they’re unmarried and the opposite gender! I know this all too well personally. Often I’ve been scared to even make eye contact with young men for fear of him thinking I “like” him. Or worse, because I fear the gossip it may cause by the all-to-eager-to-matchmake “friends”. Even when a guy would approach me, I’d make the conversation short, thinking to myself: “I can’t see myself marrying him!”
I don’t think I’m alone in my unGodly responses to young men. The Botkin girls made me realize how silly and selfish I was in my reactions to young men. They stated plainly that the goal of our interactions with young men is to sacrificially love them and encourage them in righteousness –the same goal I have for any other relationship! No longer do I cower at the thought of speaking with an unmarried man around my age. If I let Christ rule in my heart, none of my fears will overcome me as I seek to be edifying in my conduct and conversation with young men.
Not only did I learn more about the purpose of interacting with young men, but also how to better and fully honor my father and be of service to my younger brother. We often neglect these relationships when there is a “prospect” of marriage on the horizon. Daily, we should be improving our relationships with family members. Nothing should be done for our own profit, but in obedience to God and for His exaltation in our lives. God lovingly promises blessings if we obey by honoring our parents and loving our families. When I first picked up this book, I was consumed by my own desires instead of focusing on obedience to God.
When I was growing up, a popular phrase I heard from my parents and other authorities in my life was, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I loved the Botkin rendition: “If you can’t say something nice… try harder.” How true! Anna Sofia and Elizabeth made it clear how important kindness is in all of our relationships.
While reading this book, feelings of inadequacy will come to the surface of our hearts. These sisters do not lower God’s expectations of us young women but emphasize striving toward perfection. It is intended to refine us as “iron sharpeneth iron”. This book made me work through several personal insecurities, my misunderstandings of men and my character flaws. Do not be intimidated by this book but rather strengthened by the virtuous characteristics presented and a willingness to grow.
This book includes a forward by respected Dr. Voddie Baucham, an honest look at how boy-girl relationships are mismanaged these days, a thorough explanation of how God views young men as well as how to be a better natural daughter and sister. It was very helpful for the Botkin sisters to include honest quotes from young men scattered throughout the book. I encourage any young woman struggling with the question: “How exactly do I interact with young men??” to read this book.
I will conclude with my favorite quote from a young man: “It is refreshing to be around a woman who carries herself well. By well, here’s what I mean: a woman who possesses mature dignity, yet who is unpretentious and doesn’t put on airs or vaunts herself. A woman who is self-respecting and modest in her dress and speech. A woman who does not project a self-centered and self-absorbed posture; who genuinely cares about others and conveys that in her words and deeds. A woman who builds up, not tears down, others in how she speaks and what she says. A woman who is stable, but not stubborn, who is sure of her views and can articulate them, yet who displays a humble teachableness. A woman who can converse freely with men, yet who is sisterly, not froward or sensual, in her communication. A woman who has a relaxed confidence that puts others at ease. A woman who is cheerful and content with her current situation. A woman who fears God and knows in Whom she believes.”
Amen! Let us, with God’s help, try to live up to this beautiful picture of a Godly young woman.