Love Me For Me (Even Though I Wouldn’t Do That For You)

One of the amazing things about Jesus is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, what our story is, He loves us.  In the famous hymn’s words he loves me Just As I Am.  I can come to know Him just as I am, receive His grace as I am and start to follow Him right from where I am now.  I don’t earn it.  In fact I can’t earn it.  God loves you and me right now, no matter what.

The truth is that we all long for that.  We long to be fully known and fully loved.  We look for it everywhere.  As a believer we realize at least intellectually and theologically that God is really the only person who can fulfill that in our lives.  But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to experience that with another person or people.  It also doesn’t stop us from feeling hurt when we don’t experience it with other people even though again, we know intellectually that no one else can do that perfectly.

What’s really interesting is how this gets twisted up when we think about looking for a spouse and frankly later in marriage itself if we get married.

One way that it gets twisted is with the idea that people of the opposite sex should just like me.  If they don’t like me then it’s God’s fault of their fault.  In other words if I ask out twenty people and they all say no, there still is no reason to look at myself.  Women should like me for me after all.  Isn’t true love about loving the person no matter what?

Here is where we really fail our people in the church a lot.  We forget that getting a date is different than being in a dating relationship is different than being married.  They are three almost completely different skill sets.  We confuse attraction and love which really aren’t the same at all.

This is where the nice guy who is intimidated of girls he is attracted to says, “but they should like me for me.” or the person who is overweight or doesn’t dress up says, “I just want someone who will love me regardless of what I look like.”

But when it comes to getting a date, attraction matters.  There’s just no way around it.  For most of history there were no dates.  Attraction still mattered obviously.  But in most cultures marriages were at least somewhat arranged.  But that’s not where we are now.  And I don’t really hear very many people clamoring to go back to that.  So if we don’t want to back to that . . .  maybe we need to think about what we can do to actually get a date.

It’s sort of like when you need a job.  You have to apply. And most of the time you need to interview well.  Not always to be sure.  But typically.  So what do you do when you interview?  Study up.  Dress up.  Speak up.  Show desire for the job without acting desperate for the job.  Now obviously you could interview well, get the job and then be terrible at it.  No doubt this happens all the time.  The same is true of marriage.  People get married and then have no clue how to be married.  But this doesn’t change the fact that you have to pass the interview stage to get the job, you have to get a date to get married.

But here’s the good thing about all of this.  Most of the things (not all) that help you get a date are pretty good for you to consider anyway.  I shouldn’t be desperate for a girl.  I shouldn’t be insecure just because I like someone or I’m afraid of rejection.  I should get in shape physically anyway.  The list could go on.  Why not improve?

Now a couple of caveats that should be obvious.  I’m not suggesting that you have to be perfect or a perfect 10.  Not at all.  I’m not suggesting beating yourself up.  I’m not suggesting that if you do “everything right” that it will happen for you.  Heck I’m not even suggesting that you should marry someone that you think doesn’t love you for you.  No way!!

What I’m saying is that you can’t expect the person who doesn’t know you yet to do that. And if we’re honest here, you’re probably not doing that for anyone else either.  You’re not thinking, “I’ll marry someone that I’m not attracted to” or “I’ll marry the first guy that asks me out no matter who it is.”  Basically our message is typically, “You should love me for me – even though I won’t do that for you.”

I’m also saying, why not work on this stuff.  Why not look at the things that hold me back and deal with them.  What I’m saying is that if you “stay as you are” then you most likely will keep having the same results. What I’m saying is it’s a good thing to actually grow and develop – even if that means growing and developing in relating to the opposite sex.

The thing about Jesus is that while He loves each of us just as we are, He loves us too much to leave us there.  He’s constantly moving us forward, not because He loves us more if we move forward but because He loves us enough to want us to be free of our sin, fears, insecurities, and wounds.

Some Help For The Ladies

Most of my usual readers know that this blog is written mainly for men.  Lots of ladies read this and probably 70% of what I write here is pretty applicable to both sexes.  This is especially true of all that I’ve said theologically about celibacy, family and the Church.  It’s mostly true of the things we discuss having to do with living in the context of being unmarried including things like dealing with sexual desire, community, touch, money, dealing with loss, etc.

However most of what I’ve offered here in terms of what to do with attraction, how to attract people, how to get a date and how to date, have been very guy centered.  I’ve had several requests from female readers at different times for thoughts on what they can do in those areas.  So I want to offer some thoughts today.

I’m not going to write several posts on this although I surely could.  But that is not the main format of the blog and not really my wheelhouse because after all, I’m a guy.

So instead I want to offer some things that the ladies can do with some tidbits on what not to do mixed in.

Here are some things to do:

Go ahead and initiate contact

There is a difference between initiating with someone and pursuing them.  We all know that women want to be pursued (not chased).  But as a guy it can be hard to know who to pursue and a little help on the front end can go a long way.  It can be as simple as being the first to make eye contact and smile.  There is nothing wrong with introducing yourself or starting a conversation with some guy you might be interested in.  I wouldn’t advise asking them out.  But you can talk with them, laugh with them, be friendly and even a little flirty.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It creates a comfort level.  I think this is especially true in the church setting where sometimes guys are being too careful (which is sometimes merited).

Make yourself available

This could mean showing up at events that you know good men will be at.  It might mean letting a certain guy know where you’ll be.  I had a good friend share with me how she once had a guy she met at church who she wanted to know more.  She loved biking and found out that he did as well.  She shared with him that her and some friends biked at a certain place at a certain time and that he was welcome to come.  It wasn’t a date.  But it gave him a chance to show up.  Which he did.  And then he asked her out.

Being available might mean seeing that a guy goes out the same door every Sunday and choosing to go out that door – sort of setting up the opportunity to run into you.  It might mean online dating.  I know that there are pros and cons to that, but it for sure puts you in a place to of availability to meet men.

Put your most attractive self forward

Dress feminine.  I’m not saying dress sexual.  But it’s ok to put some effort into it.  And don’t downplay that.  Don’t talk about your “faults” when you are with a guy on a date.  I had women do this all the time.  They would tell me all that was wrong with them.  They’d tell me how much weight they gained or lost.  They’d tell me how they were difficult or couldn’t change this or that.  I guess there is a place for that but it’s not early on.  Maybe they wanted to lower the bar or make sure I wouldn’t run at the first negative thing.  But frankly here’s the deal.  If a man is on a date with you, he was at least fairly attracted to you.  You should just go with that.  Don’t sabotage it.  He likes you a little or he wouldn’t be there.

Learn to just say no and yes and be respectful either way

If someone asks you out, there are only two possible answers to that.  Yes or no. Anything else is disrespectful.  If you don’t want to go out you can be nice – but say no nicely.  You aren’t dating Jesus.  You don’t have other plans that day. You’re not working on you right now.  You just don’t want to.  That’s ok.  If he keeps asking you out, then say no a bit more firmly.  But don’t go nuclear with it.  If you do want to go out with him then for the love of all things holy say yes.  If you don’t know if you want to out with him and he meets your qualifiers, my advise is say yes – at least once maybe twice.  You don’t have to know you want to marry him.  It’s a date.  If you want to go out with him and he is not a good guy – then say no and stay the heck out of that situation.  Become unavailable.

Readers – maybe you could throw some other thoughts out.  Ladies – what has been helpful to you.  Guys, what have you appreciated.  We don’t need comments here just ripping each other – that’s pointless.

 

It Probably Isn’t Going To “Just Happen”

When it comes to dating, and I think especially “Christian dating”, one of the big mistakes too many people make is having the idea that it just happens.  In fact I think most people want it to be this way.  They want it to just happen.

This comes from several places.  First there is this idea that God has only one person for you and He will magically bring them to you.  This is how we get all of the spiritual platitudes like, “God will do it in his timing”, “when it’s right you’ll know”, “God just hasn’t brought you the one yet”, “He is preparing someone for you”, and on and on and on. What’s funny about these platitudes is that while we hate them when someone says them to us, we also hide behind them when we don’t act.

I’ve addressed this particular point about a zillion times in this blog.  But for the record, there is not THE ONE, there is no spiritual soulmate, He is not holding out on you.

But the second and maybe more powerful place this comes from is a culture that says everything should happen organically.  Whatever that means.  Basically what it seems to mean is that you shouldn’t have to actually do anything.  You are entitled to whatever you want and you shouldn’t have to actually try to go do it.

This is a super convient concept when stuff doesn’t go our way.  Or when we sin.

My girlfriend is pregnant becomes everything happens for a reason.  Yeah it does, because you had sex when you shouldn’t have.  I don’t know how to ask someone out can conveniently become, God will bring me someone.  I’m overweight (don’t have a job, don’t have direction, don’t know how to interact with people, etc.) but people should just like me for me.  The right person will just organically be attracted to me.  (But of course I won’t be extending that same courtesy to them).

Maybe in the past when the average age of marriage was about 10 years younger than it is today that sort of thing would make some sense.  I think there is some reality to college aged folks and “organically meeting”.  But for most of us this just is not a good plan to get married.

The first question needs to be, do you actually want to get married.  I believe that most of us are called to do so.  Marriage, while not the end all and not the solution to life, was instituted by God in the very beginning.  Some people will not get married.  Some are not called to it.  But for those of us who don’t think we are called to celibacy we need to attempt to move beyond it, not just sit around and hope for it.  Especially as a man.

We need to act.  And action, typically means being intentional.  Being intentional typically means having a plan.  None of this means that the plan will work.

I’ve used this example before but let’s say you need a job.  Do you sit around and just hope that it “organically” happens?  Ok I know some people do, but those people typically remain unemployed.  If you want a job, you go out and hit the pavement (or the internet or whatever).  You use the resources available to you to find a job. You might have work on some skills.  Maybe a new skill for a new job – that might require going back to school or practicing interviewing.  You learn, practice, and attempt, over and over again.

If a kid wants to get better at a sport for example, do they sit around and hope that they just learn to shoot a basketball?  No you learn how to shoot it.  You listen to your coach. You go out in the driveway and shoot the ball over and over.  Does this mean you’ll be Jordan?  No.  But will you be better than the average person who hasn’t shot a basketball?  Yes.

Look, I’m not saying it’s simple.  What I am saying is that having a plan and learning how to be better is good.  Humbling maybe, but good.  It’s called growth.  It requires effort.  And usually it requires failure because you don’t know when or if it will work.

The question should be, how do I put myself in the best position to succeed.  I have to get in the game.  I need to have a plan of attack.  I might need to practice.  I might need to study or acquire new skills.

You need a plan of how to meet people, how to approach people and what to do on a date.  And that’s just for starters.

Gentlemen let me assure you of this.  Girls like a guy who has a plan.  They can say they don’t but they do.  That doesn’t change when you get married by the way.  If they want to think “it just happened” that’s fine, but we all know it didn’t.

Do you want to get married?  What are you doing today that makes tomorrow any more likely that you will get married? If you aren’t dating anyone, what is your plan to change that?  If you are dating someone, what is your plan to advance that relationship?  What are your intentions?  What are doing to make your intentions reality?  What are you getting better at?

 

 

Jesus Can Help You Attract Women

For over 20 years I’ve been inviting people to know and follow Jesus.  One of the things I like to do when I have time is to juxtapose two stories from the bible.

The first is the story of the wealthy young ruler who approaches Jesus.  The man kneels before Jesus, offers him some flattery and then asks what he needs to do to have real lasting life.  Jesus first brushes off the flattery and then tells him that he knows the rules of the kingdom.  The man says he”s kept all of those.  So not only was this man well off, but he was apparently a good guy.  But something was still missing.  Jesus then essentially says, “Sell everything you have, and come with me where I’m going.”  The man went away sad because his wealth was the center of his life and he was not leaving it.

The other story is from Luke.  In this story in the middle of the day, after teaching from his boat, Jesus tells Peter to go out into the water and drop his fishing net.  Peter basically tells Jesus that to do so is completely ridiculous.  They had worked all night (the right time to fish) and not caught anything.  But he does it anyway.  He then pulls in the catch of a lifetime.  He has to call others to help.  This was THE catch.  He could have just thanked Jesus and made a killing at the market.  But instead he realizes what is going on and falls to his knees. Jesus says, “Come with me.  From now on you will fish for men”.  Peter leaves THE catch on the beach and goes with him.

It’s the same invitation.  One man says yes and another says no.  One is with Jesus and the other is not. This theme plays out all through scripture.

There’s obviously about a zillion things we could pull from these stories.  But what I want to talk about today is that we as men can actually learn a lot from Jesus about how to approach and attract women.  Seriously.

Jesus was a guy that everyone wanted to be with.  People were drawn to Him period.  He knew His identity.  He was confident, strong, caring, smart, powerful, fun, charismatic, and fully alive.  He was exactly himself always.  He had integrity.  He initiated.  Quite simply Jesus was the most attractive person ever.  Jesus was hot!

Now Jesus knew that celibacy was required to accomplish His mission.  But you can bet women wanted to be with him.  So what can we learn from Him about pursuing women if He didn’t?  A lot actually.

For starters we need to recognize that if we walk with Him we can become all of the things that I listed in two paragraphs above.  If I’m in Christ then I can know where my identity comes from.  I should be becoming more confident, strong, caring, wise, etc.  Of course I’m not Jesus and therefore can’t live that out perfectly, but I should be becoming it.

But more than that we can learn from how Jesus interacted with those he called.

Jesus loved people.  He invited people to join Him, in all sorts of ways. Some joined him for a while and left.  Some walked away.  A few went with Him.  Here are a few take aways in terms of dating.

First, Jesus was inviting people to something.  As a man we need to be inviting the woman to come with us.  They are not the goal.  I’m pursuing a goal and I’m looking for someone to come with me in that.  This is a huge thought.  Women want someone who is going somewhere.  Call it ambition or direction or whatever, it is attractive.  If we don’t know what we are about and where we are going as well as how to communicate it, we run the risk of not being attractive, or of attracting the wrong person.

Second, Jesus asks and invites but He never begs.  This is actually true through the entire Bible.  God does NOT need us.  He wants us.  He loves us.  He pursues us.  But He is not begging us to be with Him.  He invites the rich man to leave it all, but he doesn’t beg him to.  In the same way we shouldn’t beg someone to date us.  Women like being wanted, but they can sense when they are needed.  If we can’t live without them, they don’t want to live with us – at least not for the long term.

Jesus, even though it saddened Him, let people walk away.  When the rich man walks Jesus doesn’t hesitate and say something like, “Hey wait a minute.  You know what, you obviously kind of like me and I want this to work out.  So how about you sell half.  Heck bring the rest with you and we’ll use it.”  He lets him walk.  It is good to pursue a woman.  It is a terrible idea to chase her.  Jesus was not (and is not) a stalker.  He is not waiting for us to make His life complete.  No one should hold that power over us either.

The reason we know Jesus loves us is that even though He doesn’t need us, He wants us. Some people say yes to that and some say no.  The truth is that you can’t love anybody that you have to have.  Love is a choice, not a compulsion.

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Have A Game Plan For Dating

One of the worst places you can be on a date is that moment when the girl says, “what are we doing?” and the guy says, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”  I know because I’ve been there and done that.  When you go on a date, especially initially, it’s good to have a plan, or at the very least, have an opinion.

But let’s back up a step.  I think it’s actually helpful to have a plan when meeting women. Now I don’t mean be a robot or be completely controlling.  But I think that as a guy, having a plan, or set of plans is helpful.  Having some options in your mind for things to say when you meet someone is good.

A lot of guys have a hard time approaching women.  I’ve talked about approaching women and developing dating skills in the past.  But the common theme in those previous posts is that having a game plan is good.

When I was online dating after a while I realized is that sense you never knew who would communicate back, it was good to have some sort of system or you’d be sitting there all day.  So I developed a three or four email plan.  Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t send the exact same email to everyone.  But I had the exact same principles.

Comment on what they wrote, ask two fun/light questions.  In the second email ask another series of questions including a set of either/or questions.  In the third email ask a fun question and deeper one.  Fourth email ask to talk live.  (Gentlemen – for free – women like questions – makes you seem interesting and interested at the same time – that’s for free).

When I was talking to my wife early on she would make fun of it.  She’d say stuff like, “is this part of your system?”  She could tell I had one.  The best part was from the very first date, she went about trying to bust the system.  It was awesome.

Am I saying you need a system to approach women?  Yeah sort of.  Especially if you are uncomfortable doing it.  I’m not saying you should plan every moment and interaction out in your head.  I’m not telling you to over think it.  (If you are 30 and single – you’ve already over thought it – lots of times).  I’m saying that as a guy, when you have a bit of a plan that you trust, when you “know what you are doing”, it gives you confidence and you can go from there.  If you have a plan – you don’t have to over think it – you just do it.

Here’s a non dating example.  I’ve spoken in front people my whole life.  Literally hundreds of times in front of many thousands of people.  Now part of it is that I have a gift of speaking and teaching.  But part of it early on was I worked my tail off in preparation.  I studied what I would teach and I practiced.  I would stand in my living room and give the talk over and over.

When I got to the actual talk, I owned it frontwards and backwards.  That enabled me the freedom to handle anything that happened that night without getting flustered or thrown off track.  It enabled me when sharing God’s word to be able to listen to His leading as I talked and flex with what was going on in the room.

I’m not suggesting being rigid.  Think of football. You have a playbook.  You game plan all week.  When you get to the game you call plays based on what is given to you.  Once the play starts you execute as best you can and then you just play ball.  But without plays it all falls apart.  You don’t just show up on game day and hope for the best.  Bad teams either have a bad plan, or they never change based on what is given to them that day. Or both. What I’m saying is the better you game plan, the freer you are to react.

Here’s the kicker.  You know what having a plan really is?  It’s called leadership, and leadership actually works.  With women pursuit is part of it (going to her) but part of it has to be invitation.  But you can’t invite her if you aren’t going anywhere.

By the way this is why if you let the girl become the goal you are screwed.  Women don’t want to be the goal.  They want to join you on the journey.

Having a plan and practicing creates confidence.  It helps you know what works for you and what doesn’t.  I’m not saying that you should make dating a game.  But attraction matters.  Confidence is attractive.  That is fact – like it or not.  And as a guy, having a plan and knowing what we are doing creates confidence.

Here’s what I know doesn’t work.  Doing the same things that don’t work over and over. Being scared when you approach a woman you like because you don’t know what to say. Hoping that even though you never work on getting better at it that God will somehow magically make it happen.

Do you feel confident approaching someone?  Do you know what to do when you do have a date?  What would it mean to work on that?