I recently saw a sign outside an elementary school that said, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” That sure sounds good. Especially in our current culture.
One of the things I did a lot as a single person is pray for a spouse. That took a lot of different forms. Sometimes it was simple and relaxed. Other times it took the form of crying out (read begging) for God to bring me The One. Often when I really thought someone could be the one it was praying for God to “make it happen”, sometimes before I’d even been on a date (that hurts a little to type – Ha!).
But over and over again for years, it never happened. God didn’t “answer” my prayer.
This really begs two different types of questions. First, should we, and if so how should we, pray about gaining a spouse. Second, why is it that God doesn’t seem to answer this prayer or as I like to say, why doesn’t God just “poof” us a spouse.
When I was an teenager in school, one of the things that I heard constantly from girls that I wanted to date was something to the effect of, “You’re a great guy, but I just see you as a friend.” In other words over and over again, I entered what has become known as the friend zone.
This is a terrible place to be. We get there a whole lot of different ways. When I was younger, (at least in my experience) there were some times when I really was friends with the girl before I decided I wanted to date her. But as you get older this is less likely.
Many guys when they like a woman start being really nice to her. We go out and try to meet her needs, help her out with anything she wants, buy her considerate gifts etc. I once bought a girl a birthday present that I wasn’t even dating. I was a 30 year old man. WTH was I thinking? I liked her. I should do nice stuff for her right? Yikes!
One of the complaints I hear all the time from men (and that I used to make all the time) is that women, and in our case Christian women, always seem to choose the bad guy over the good guy. If you are a consistent reader hear then you know that I would say that is the wrong view of a real issue.
Here is what women do – they choose the guy they are attracted to over the one they aren’t.
There are a lot of men who say that women should date them because they can be a great husband, are trying to be godly etc, even though they are not, for whatever reason attractive to women. I would ask that guy, are you asking out women you know to be godly that you are not attracted to? I’m guessing no.
So rather than sit around and complain, maybe we should think about what is attractive and work on it.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about chasing vs. pursuing. I’ve already decided we need some new language to make all of that more clear, but that is not the topic for today.
I received a note from one of my female leaders asking a good question in response to that post. In actuality she asks a much more important question, perhaps without knowing it. I don’t typically write specifically to women here because, well I’m not one, and I don’t come from that experience. But I think this is important and merits an post.
In follow up to the post on chasing vs pursing, may you write a refresher on how women should appropriately response to being chased or pursed? I think that for the well liked, popular Christian single lady, it may be easier to differentiate the two and act accordingly, perhaps due to exposure or experience. For other women, especially when requests and invitations are few and far in between, or even non existent, it can be hard to tell what is a good and noble pursuit versus what is simply a chase because we are a woman. Sadly, I have fallen for this one, and I would appreciate insight on how a woman should respond to such encounters in the future.
This question brings up a few very important points that we need to consider. So let me take a crack at them here, while hopefully helping answer the intent of her question.
About 15 years ago my brother and I went to a Rick Springfield concert. I can’t believe I just typed that. You have to understand that I was a child of the 80’s and Rick, was well, sort of awesome. He had 17 top 20 hits. He was smooth with the lines and the ladies. So anyway in 2000 or so, long after he was cool, he was in concert to promote a new album that of course no one actually bought.
At any rate there we were at Station Casino and it’s packed (meaning there were like a thousand people there. . . maybe). Rick steps up on stage, and forgets the words to his opening song. Haha. Then he says, “I sort of forgot the words there, but it’s ok. I feel I’m among friends tonight.” The “crowd” roared. From then he was on fire. Flawless as he belted out the tunes as we sang along.
At one point, he starts to sing one of those top 20 hits called The Human Touch. “We all need the human touch. We all need it. . . I need it too”. Then he went out into the crowd and began hugging people and giving high fives. My brother and I died laughing as we watched a 40 year old woman run screaming to a friend, “He touched me! He touched me!.”
I know at this point you are wondering why I’m sharing this story, but I share it because I think we actually do need human touch and as a single person it can be hard to come by.
Back in 2001 there was a book called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. It was a book that sort of came out of left field for me and there was so much in it that as a man I resonated with. In it, Eldredge talks about many things but one of the key premises that he shares is that men are tying to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?”
I really do believe that in some form every guy is asking that. It’s a value question. In other words, as a man, I get my value from the answer to that question. The book goes much deeper into that question and how it was or wasn’t answered by our fathers.
As Eldredge dives into that question he further shares that men desire three main things. A battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. It’s this last desire that I want to talk about today. As with all of these desires – there’s a lot of ways to mess this one up.
When I read that book, I was 29 years old and single. I was going after my full time ministry work hard. I was living the adventure and fighting the battle. No doubt about it. But as a single guy, I thought, “What do I do with that last desire?”
I think the desire is real. I say that because it’s ingrained everywhere. It’s in movie after movie, story after story. Hero guy sees girl in distress. Hero rescues girl. Hero gets girl. But like most things in life, it’s not quite as simple as a 90 minute movie.
In real life, not every girl in distress wants to be rescued. Not every girl in distress should be rescued by you. And, just because you rescue the girl (or have a part in it) doesn’t have much to do with getting the girl.
Right now a lot of good, nice guys are thinking, “Damn straight!” I hear you. I lived it for far too long.
Here’s how it works. You are attracted to a girl. You see her beauty and you see that she needs rescued – usually from dating someone other than you – the “bad for her” guy. You are there for her, listen to her, give her advice, and in the Christian world “minister” to her. You of course tell her how great she is and that she deserves better. She’s not into you, but you want her to be and if you can just “rescue her” she would be. In some circles this is called The White Knight Syndrome.
But it gets worse. “Christian” dating advice to men just exasperates the situation. You’re trying to be a Godly man and do things right. So what do they tell you? To man up of course. Be a good guy. It’s your job to protect women even from yourself. Guard her heart. Be clear about your intentions. Be nice. She’s the victim of the last bad guy she dated (or in some circles the guy she was married to).
No where are we called to do this in the Bible by the way. I’ve heard people say (and I’ve said) that wives submit to your husband does not mean girlfriend submit to your boyfriend. Fair enough. But neither does it say, boyfriend love your girlfriend as Christ loves the church . . .
We teach people who they should marry but not how to meet them. We tell people what not to with their date, but not how to get a date. We tell men to man up and women to dress up without explaining why that matters. We can help you break up with the wrong person, but we can’t seem to help you learn how to approach the right one. We tell men to guard girls’s without telling them how to win them to begin with.
Here’s the reality. The desire is good, but there are only two ways you can help rescue a girl so speak. The first is if you don’t want to date her and you just want to help her. Sometimes in ministry this actually happens. As a strong male leader, you can have impact in women’s lives. Nothing wrong with that.
The second way is to get the girl and then rescue her. This is what Eldredge, and for that matter Ephesians 5 is referencing. It assumes you are married to the beauty – and for that matter that the one you are married to is the beauty.
We don’t rescue the girl to get the girl. We get the girl to rescue her. And then you fight for her the rest of your life. Sometimes that fighting for her will mean fighting with her and you can’t do that if you are constantly trying to get her to like you. And get this, sometimes you’ll have to do it even when you don’t feel like it. Crazy.
Here’s what we need to get a hold of. Attracting the girl and rescuing her are not the same thing. They aren’t even in the same sphere. Learn to do the first, and you’ll have a chance at the latter. You don’t rescue her with the goal of getting her because then what? Get her and then spend the rest of your days trying to figure out how to love/rescue her.
The thing about the hero in the movie – the girl already liked him.