My sophomore year I played varsity basketball. I didn’t typically start but I played (a lot) on a team made up of 7 seniors and 3 Juniors. I was the future. But my junior year, while I was a better athlete, I was a worse player. It was hard to describe. It was like I was out there but I couldn’t fully engage. I was kind of frozen. There were many different reasons. I broke my thumb, we switched coaches and systems etc, but really, I was just off. It was like I wanted it so bad that I couldn’t get it. I was a starter, but honestly I shouldn’t have been.
One day after a particularly bad game my dad pulled me into his office. We had a man to man. He said, “Look, you’ve probably lost your starting job. I wouldn’t start you. You’ve got to turn it loose. Somehow you’ve got to find some reckless abandon. Sometimes you just have to say F it and go.” My dad never cussed. It’s maybe the best advice he’s ever given me.
That night I did start. I also played freer. I finished the last few games a little better and then had a good senior year.
Here’s what crazy. The same thing happened to me in dating. As a kid I had no game. But when I got to college I suddenly had dates. I gained confidence and I was fearless. I’d ask out a person in a store, the waitress, whoever, and they’d say yes. But then some stuff changed. I had a long relationship that rightly ended but it was then that I knew I needed to date to get married, not just to date. The pressure kind of mounted. I was 22.
It was at this point (in my mid 20’s) that the whole “biblical dating” movement happened. Being a young Christian leader I of course wanted to do right. So I didn’t date to date, never kissed anyone and even did the whole “courting” thing once. Turns out you can get hurt there too.
When I turned 30 I moved to St. Louis, a much more target rich environment. But there was a big problem. I was frozen. It was like I couldn’t pursue. I over thought everything. I was still too religious and when I did like someone I was too try hard. I over thought, over pursued and felt awkward. I was the nice guy. It was seriously crazy. It was like I was on the court, but not really able to engage.
There are a lot of guys in some sort of similar boat. We talk all the time about how guys are passive and don’t pursue. And many times when they do it’s all wrong. A girl once told me, “I’m so tired of Christian guys.” This was a gal who loved Jesus. What she was really saying is, “I’m tired of wuss Christian guys who either won’t pursue me at all or who chase me and are constantly needy.”
We have a serious problem. Many guys are frozen. The reasons include but are not limited to:
- Over-spiritualizing the whole thing. This includes all I talked about here.
- Over-thinking the whole thing. All of the pretend conversations with girls, trying to figure out if they like me, speculating on how it will all pan out, trying to avoid hurt and on and on
- Fear of rejection – we are often afraid to ask out who we really want to. Part of this comes from over thinking and building up the situation to begin with.
- Fear of commitment – a lot of guys are just scared of marriage –
- Not knowing how to attract girls. Most men have no training or help on how female attraction works. They don’t know how to do it.
- Waiting for the perfect person – you know the one who looks just right, talks just right, and acts just right – before you even know her
- Worrying about what others think – both the girl we might ask and what others will think of her if we do
- We’ve spent too much time having our sexual needs met other ways, which drives down the desire for marriage and drives up our shame – bad combination (more here soon)
All of these can play into each other. It’s a cycle. I think about it more, which steals more of my identity away from Christ, which makes me more worried about how it will go, which makes me less likely to act, which means when I do it will be awkward, which will make me more unattractive, which will mean I’m rejected, which will make me think about it more . . . . Whew I’m tired.
We’ve got to figure out how to stop it. We’ve got to figure out how to act with some reckless abandon (which by the way is extremely attractive). We have to break free and just go.
What freezes you? What keeps you from fully engaging and pursuing marriage? What has helped you get past it?