Author Profile: Heather Paulsen Patenaude
When Bloom! was a print magazine, we had the pleasure of having Heather Paulsen Patenaude, author of Emotional Purity, write a column for us every once in awhile. Heather and her husband John have three precious boys and are passionate about being emotionally pure and strengthening marriages. Join in our conversation as we talk with Heather about her book and emotional purity...
Heather, what inspired you to write Emotional Purity?
I wrote Emotional Purity when I was in my early 20's. It was 1999 when I started and I thought it would be neat to pass along a journal to my future children about what it was like to be a single Christian woman at the turn of the century. I thought I'd have all daughters but I have three sons!
Many of us have never heard of emotional purity before - could you define it for us?
Emotional Purity is a humble desire to honor God in our relationships. To surrender our emotional needs to God, whether married or single, for the sake of the Gospel.
Remaining emotionally pure isn't a formula. But it would include being willing to wait on God's timing to share the deepest parts of your heart.
When I think of emotional purity, I think of a target, at the very center of the target is the smallest circle. That circle would be the deepest, emotional places in your heart. That circle should be reserved for your mate. As you go to the next circle it's a bit bigger and is for family and very close friends. The next circle would include casual friends. And so on...
Emotional purity is saving your heart for your mate and not emotionally giving yourself to someone who doesn't have the right to it.
So often the Church and even our culture focuses only on physical purity. Why do you think it's so important, Biblically speaking, to also remain emotionally pure?
When we view marriage through the model of Christ and the church we see that when the church commits themselves to Christ it is ten that we experience the full benefits of knowing Christ. Before that commitment we are not able to experience the benefits of knowing Him.
If our marriages are to reflect Him and His bride, then we'd wait until a commitment before we experience the deepest levels of benefits from knowing someone.
Being physically intimate is an overflow of emotional intimacy. Saving those deep levels of emotional connection with someone helps to safeguard against becoming physically intimate with them.
In your book, you talk about how it's crucial for girls who are single to use their singleness to glorify God and stay emotionally pure. What are your thoughts on living that out day to day?
In our Christian culture we almost look at marriage as the starting point to life. So we have single young women waiting for "life to begin" at marriage.
If you are married or single, the goal is to glorify God.
So living that out day to day isn't a list of to do, but rather a heart that is longing to fall in love with Jesus, completely focused on serving Him, and knowing more about Him. It would be about living out the reality of the Gospel each moment and season of your life/ It would be about surrendering any idea that we know what's best for us, and leaning fully on God.
As a single woman I spent a lot of time in God's Word, fasting and praying. I am not saying that I didn't long for marriage, but my goal was to keep Christ at the center of my heart.
Most don't view the season of singleness as a gift, but God says, "Here's some time for you to just be focused on Me, use it wisely!"
Looking back, I wish I had spent even more time learning about God, reading His Word, and serving Him.
What are some practical ways girls can save themselves emotionally for their future husbands?
Saving yourself emotionally is going to look different for each young lady because it's a matter of the heart. We can set up all these guidelines, but still have a heart that is rebellious and selfish.
It's been harder for me to give practical guidelines because I'd not want someone to think that means: If I do what Heather says, I'll stay pure.
For me, I asked God to help me view single men as a brother who was already married. I asked myself, "If this man was married, would I talk to him this way? If his wife was here, would I talk about this with him? If this man was married, would have fantasy about a future with him?"
Asking myself those questioned helped reveal my heart motive when I spent time with single guys.
One final word from Heather:
Girls, may all your relationships be God-honoring, Christ-centered and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit!
--To learn more, you can contact Heather at email@example.com or visit her blog.--