As a bright-eyed freshman, staying in hall seemed like the “must do” on everyone’s university bucket list. So you can imagine my joy when I got offered a spot.
Entering university with a desire to focus on God and what He wanted me to do for His kingdom, I wasn’t outrightly looking to pursue a romantic relationship.
I decided that I would just be friendly with everyone in my hall but keep my heart guarded.
And then I met Louis*.
Friendships and feelings
I would be lying if I said Louis didn’t stand out. However, the admiration was platonic.
My first impression of Louis was that he was approachable and pleasant.
Louis and I gradually grew closer. It was easy to interact with him.
We had many meaningful conversations and participated in fun activities. On top of that, I found his gentle and kind demeanour attractive.
Was I catching romantic feelings?
As someone who typically falls quite deeply into the pit of emotions, I made a pact with myself and God that this was going to be different.
So I brought these feelings to God.
And the more I prayed, the more I felt that the life partner and co-labourer in Christ I was looking for wasn’t Louis.
I spent many nights questioning God.
“Why allow me to like him if he’s not the one? Maybe he could be the one… next time?”
As someone who has stayed on campus before, I can testify that everything I’ve known about boundaries goes out of the window.
A guy going to a girl’s room to hang out behind closed doors? Normal.
Taking night walks around the estate and listening to each other pour your hearts out? Normal.
Having private study sessions together till the wee hours of the morning? Normal.
At first glance, these things seem harmless. I mean, what’s wrong with building a friendship?
The issue doesn’t solely lie in these actions, but in the intention of the heart.
Knowing that God had not given me the green light, I should have been extra careful in my interactions with Louis.
On top of that, I was aware that my emotions were one-sided. However, I continued letting my guard down.
In time, I found myself in a questionable space with Louis.
We were spending quite a fair bit of alone time together.
It wasn’t just about the act of spending 1-1 time with the opposite gender, which I think is perfectly permissible in certain circumstances.
In my case, I knew what I was doing. I was compromising.
The issue doesn’t solely lie in these actions, but in the intention of the heart.
One Friday, after we had finished having dinner together, Louis invited me to hang out in his room. He also suggested we have some drinks.
Personally, the boundary I set for myself was that I was not to be found in a guy’s room alone with the door closed (a line I went on to cross more than once). Let alone that, and alcohol.
But letting my emotions lead me, I didn’t say “no”.
Thankfully, neither Louis and I got drunk. We spent the time watching videos, and the mood was lighthearted. I also made sure to keep a physical distance.
But looking back, it was God’s grace and protection.
I shouldn’t have placed myself in such an environment to begin with. I was coming dangerously close to temptation.
Another Friday night, I had already made Saturday breakfast plans with a female hall friend.
Suddenly just before bedtime, I received a text from Louis asking if I wanted breakfast.
You can guess what I did: I shelved my plans with my close friend just to eat with him.
Needless to say, I’m not proud of my decision. Not only did I bail at the last minute on a friend, I was letting my life revolve around Louis.
I’ve since left hall, and Louis and I didn’t pursue anything romantic. In fact, he has found love and I extend my blessings.
But this isn’t a story of me and Louis. This is a story of me and God.
A story of how I almost lost my first love for Him as I gave in to my fleeting worldly desires.
Run while you can
There’s a verse I kept going back to during my stay in hall.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV).
Vigilance, in the dictionary, is defined as “the action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties”.
Despite clinging on to Proverbs 4:23, I never fully understood what the verse looked like practically.
I had to learn the hard way that challenging God’s boundaries for my life wasn’t how He wanted me to live.
God calls us to anticipate potential sources of danger — anything that draws us away from Him into the distracting, sinful pleasures of the world.
If I told you there was quicksand at Pasir Ris Park today, would you go all the way there and dip your toes metres away from the quicksand?
I reckon you won’t because you know that once you slip, you’re going to sink.
We run far in the face of physical danger. But why do we get comfortable with emotional and spiritual sources of quicksand?
4 tips so you don’t stumble like me
I hesitate to be prescriptive when it comes to boundaries and matters of the heart.
Everyone’s experiences are different, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You might not have someone you’re harbouring feelings for in your campus accommodation.
Or you might be a “bro” kind of girl and are generally more comfortable hanging around guys. We all have different personalities, weaknesses and thresholds.
Therefore, it’s important to seek God for wisdom on His boundaries for your life.
Instead, the 4 things I’ll share below are general principles based on what I’ve learnt from struggling in grey areas.
1. Stick to your convictions
The Bible has plenty of guidelines for us.
God makes it clear that He is displeased by sexual immorality, drunkenness, sensuality, rivalry — just to name a few. (Galatians 5:19-21).
Rely on His word to frame your actions, and write down some practical ways you can keep your purity and choose righteousness in an environment like hall.
However, having a list is only half the battle won.
Consider your points of weakness. What tempts you to sin? What areas take your focus off of God?
Know your threshold, and don’t walk dangerously close to the line.
It’s also vital that we seek God daily and rely on His strength to keep these convictions.
We cannot do it alone. But with the Holy Spirit, it’s possible.
2. Surround yourself with community
Be around people that can encourage and edify you.
This is not to say that we only interact with Christians.
I believe that staying on campus is a great time to connect with people that hold different worldviews and share God’s love with those who might be searching for Him.
However, it’s good to still be anchored to a group of believers that can keep you accountable.
I found solace in my hall friends who were believers. They were constant sources of support that were just a door away when I was struggling.
They helped me keep a good head on my shoulders and pointed me back to Christ. When I was tempted to give in, they gave me wise counsel (Proverbs 27:9).
If your hall has a prayer group, join it. If not, do consider starting one.
You might not be the one with blurred boundaries, but you could be in a position to journey with someone else.
3. Seek God’s wisdom
You’re not always going to know what to do.
If you’re at a crossroads and feeling lost, come to the Father. He is more than capable of guiding you and showing you how to act in accordance to His will (James 1:5).
Our journeys as believers aren’t predictable. We often don’t know what lies ahead.
God doesn’t expect us to follow a set of rules robotically. Instead, He blesses us with godly discernment that we can exercise accordingly depending on the situations we find ourselves in.
If you know what is the right thing to do, but are afraid of offending others or being judged, ask God how you can stay within your boundaries without coming across as self-righteous or hurting anyone.
4. Set an example
Your time in hall is a good opportunity for you to shine for Christ. His light can shine through the choices you make and the way you behave.
You might not be at risk of falling into sin yourself, but what you choose to do could also be a stumbling block to a fellow brother or sister in Christ (Romans 14:13-15).
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV)
We might have different personal convictions on certain matters. But let’s remember to choose peace and mutual edification above all (Romans 14:19–21).
If you’re staying in hall, I pray that God will bless you with an exciting and meaningful time as you learn what it means to live under His wings.
Let His love be your guiding light and make the most of the experience before it ends!
- How has your experience staying on campus been?
- Have you ever found yourself in grey areas? How was it like trying to navigate that situation?
- Not staying in hall? What tips can you adapt from this article to better align yourself to God’s desires?