Mr. M is hunched over his computer, restarting some program for the upteenth time. The answers to my semi-interested questions fly miles over my head. He thinks I am busy with another Pinspiration, but I am watching him.
If he knew this he’d probably smile the way he does, the crow’s feet-crinkly kind of smile that reaches from the happy shine in his eyes across his handsome face. “You were watching me, baby?” he’d ask and chuckle, the singular, low laugh I love to draw out of him with the pathetic jokes only I could ruin. Then he’d draw me in his arms, calm my unruly hair with one strong hand and I’d hear for the 16th time that day, “I love you. You’re so beautiful to me.”
His love has been one of the few wonders of my world, nestled beside my salvation and my family. I wish every girl could be treasured and honored as I am, queen of his heart, and told so every day.
If you’re reading this because you don’t have a boyfriend and wonder why, you’re already mad at me. But stay a little while. I have more in common with you than you may think.
Mr. M focuses on his computer. I can see his eyes darting around the screen, analyzing, analyzing, analyzing. What’s the problem? How do I fix it? Why isn’t this working?
I asked myself a lot of those same questions a few years ago, but I wasn’t looking for computing solutions – I was looking for him.
Flashback five years:
I’m eighteen years old. I’m an official adult and the world is opening up! Somewhere along the line, I expected the passing of 18 to bring a wave of suitors to my door. Someone would want to ask me out on a real, genuine date. Then he’d want to treasure me and take care of me, and eventually want to marry me. I fully anticipated being married by the age of 21, just like my mother.
Life was lived day by day, year by year, many sunsets spent looking over Lake Michigan or the woods behind our family farm wondering, “Will it be this year? Will it be tomorrow?” I couldn’t wait for the day that guy would walk out of my favorite country song and into my life.
Then came disappointment. Shattered expectations. Uncertainty. Frustration. Bitterness. And ultimately, a calloused heart.
By the time I was 21, it was, Forget this! ‘Love’ is too full of failure for me to waste time waiting anymore. I’m a good girl, I deserve a good man. What is the problem here?
Brought to the end of my timeframe and expectations, I had no choice but to look up. And once I looked up to the Lord, He encouraged me to look in: to evaluate if I was the kind of girl who even deserved to have a boyfriend.
I discovered something I didn’t expect: I didn’t deserve a boyfriend, a future husband. I wanted a man, and I wasn’t the kind of woman a good man would need.
As I looked into God’s word and I looked in the mirror, I began to see the reason God’s perfect will was being blocked from my life. Following is a list of realizations that I came to in this self evaluation.
As much as I now love cooking, it wasn’t always this way. I remember the day I came home from living in New Mexico, approaching age 21. I stood in the kitchen and thought to myself, I can’t cook anything. I went down the list: I can’t clean, kids get on my nerves, I don’t know how to balance a checkbook… but I can make a great cup of coffee. And someday, I want to be wife. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
So many of us, including myself, are ignorant of the skills necessary to bless, honor, and support a man. I don’t mean just cooking – I mean any and all skills that would assist him in his endeavors. Think about it! How many of us can say we handle our money well? Do we present ourselves in a professional or attractive manner? That we keep a tidy and clean house so our family or employers will be blessed by our organization habits? Not every woman will do this the same way, and not every woman needs the same skills. But to remain willfully ignorant for the sake of pleasure and laziness does not merit the reward of a relationship with a man.
So many of us desire a LOVE relationship without cultivating the skills to GIVE – the most important part of loving another person! In my moment of reflection at that time I realized I was willfully spending time on my own pleasures, not taking interest in skills that could bless other people. This kind of selfishness will always affect a boyfriend, a husband, and a future family. Knowing how much priority God places on generosity, work ethic, and the family unit, why should God bless willful ignorance of skills necessary for a future family? Of course God still blesses us despite our shortcomings, and we are always learning. But we should set those patterns early on, being teachable in spirit, bringing to our boyfriends and future husbands both character and skill.
“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” – Proverbs 31:15-17
“When I date somebody,” I loudly proclaimed at the dinner table, at age 17. “I don’t want some hiker dude who wants to do exerting things all the time.”
Dad looked up from his plate of mashed potatoes and peas. “Well, what if your husband wants to go for a hike, Phy? You don’t want some lazy lunk.”
“I hate hiking!” I exclaimed. “And I don’t want some guy who does outside stuff like that.”
Ironically, one of the first dates Mr. M and I went on was a hike to Humpback Rock. It’s funny how God works little miracles in our attitudes over time. Certainly, I would not be a good match for a bouldering maniac whose every weekend was spent on the Appalachian Trail – but my former inflexibility would have denied me many special moments I have enjoyed with my boyfriend.
How stubborn we can be, girls! We can be so unwilling to try new things, get uncomfortable, or potentially ’embarrass’ ourselves that we miss out on meeting men who are just looking for a woman whose smile and happy attitude make any event a joy for them. Instead, we refuse to date guys who don’t fit our perceived ‘type’ or aren’t what we think we want (though that is constantly subject to change). It’s inflexible. Stubborn. Stiffnecked.
“Whoever remains stiffnecked after many rebukes will be suddenly destroyed -without remedy.” – Proverbs 29:1
Did you know that it is an honor and a privilege to be counted worthy enough of a man’s attention to be asked on a date, even if that man or that date isn’t exactly what you envisioned? Barring sinful men or situations, you should be flattered to be worthy of a man’s attention and affection. Treat it like a privilege. Thank him. Give him a chance. And if you haven’t been asked out lately, ask yourself a few questions:
- “Am I willing to try new things that could make me look silly or make me uncomfortable?”
- “Do I take an interest in others and their hobbies?”
- “Have I honestly addressed how I appear to others in attitude and attractiveness?”
Our culture says ‘Take me as I am’. What I realized at age 21 is that ‘as I am’ wasn’t quite good enough. Stubbornly clinging to my opinions, personality, and habits wasn’t working. It was time to change myself and be fun! Loosen up like a good girl does and laugh at life – don’t be so set on your timeframes and type that you write off a man who could have been your best friend.
Men read respect like we read affection. It’s the mode of communication they use between each other and naturally expect from us. When a woman is overly opinionated, set in her ways, high maintenance or aloof, she has potential to make a man feel small and disrespected. Most men will avoid her to avoid feeling dumb or put-down.
Insecurity (our next point) very often drives intimidation. Being unsure of ourselves creates a need to overcompensate somehow – by looking better, being smarter, proving ourselves individual among our peers. In my experience teaching girls and women, intimidation comes in two forms: passive and aggressive.
- Passive Intimidation is manipulative. This kind of intimidation is usually directed toward other girls. By dressing in a way to attract attention, whether it be by immodesty, keeping the latest trends, or lots of makeup, passive intimidators seek to make themselves better than other women, but often defeat their own purpose by driving away good men. Their attitude toward women makes them difficult to befriend and shallow in their character. Godly men see through this clearly, because a woman who can’t be a friend to another woman can never be a genuine friend to a man. A passive intimidator utilizes silence, arrogance, and criticsm as tools to launch herself above others.
- Aggressive Intimidation is competitive. Aggressive intimidators have a tendency to be ‘tomboys’, girls who just get along better with the guys. There is nothing wrong with a tomboy personality (my own sister can attest this is the case for her!), but the competitive nature that comes with it can easily come across as disrespect to men. The facts are: men like to win. They like to compete. As gender confused as our culture is, little boys will still resent being beaten by a girl. To a tomboy, negative attention is better than no attention at all, so she will often berate, tease, or argue with men she likes in order to garner any attention she can get – making herself unattractive to him in the meantime. The tomboy girl needs to learn to soften her competitive tendencies and take a second seat. Her role as a wife will require this same attitude, so it is best put into practice now.
By now many of you are irritated: “Phylicia, you’re saying I have to change who I am in order to find a boyfriend!” I am not suggesting a change until you have done a healthy self-evaluation. With prayer, God will reveal what needs to change. But regardless of who we are, there is always something within our character that can be improved. There is something in all of us that is irritating and unattractive. Don’t we want to be attractive to our future husband?
Remember that marriage will be a sanctifying process requiring you to transform into a person reflecting God’s glory more and more every day. Why not begin the process now?
Nothing strikes at the core of compassion within my heart like insecurity. Women of every age and walk of life struggle with insecurities put in place by our culture, by hurtful words, or by the media. It is a heavy burden, the cause of so many behaviors that we judge from the outside while disregarding the pain beneath.
Many of our hasty words and arrogant thoughts can be traced back to insecurity; an unstable, unsure self-image that leads us to be critical, intimidating, or constantly needing validation from others. A year ago one of my guy friends was talking about a girl he wasn’t sure about. He liked her, but “She needs affirmation all the time,” he sighed. “I like her but I feel like she’s… weak. Like she hasn’t found her identity in Christ yet. I need her to help me if she’s going to be a pastor’s wife someday.”
I told him what I tell all my guy friends looking for good girls. I told him what I tell myself as I look at a future with Mr. M: like the foundation that supports a house firmly on four corners, a weak woman, unstable and unsure, can never support the family and future a man is building.
What does that mean for us, women who are assaulted with insecurities from the morning look in the mirror to the magazine rack in the store after work?
We have to fight it.
We have the promise of security in Jesus Christ and must devote ourselves to making that security a lived-out reality day by day.
“[Jesus] has also sealed us and given us the Spriit in our hearts as a guarantee.” – 1 Cor. 1:22
“Being confident in this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out.” – John 6:37
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” – Jude 24, 25
Dear friend, you are secure in the love of Jesus Christ. He loves you. I wish I had allowed that to sink sooner into my head and heart. I wish I had wasted fewer years allowing how many date invites (or lack thereof) to dictate my value. Until you are resting secure in Jesus Christ, fighting those insecure tendencies with the promises He has given, you will not be secure enough – free enough – to enjoy the love of an imperfect man. God’s love releases us from thinking we need to prove ourselves and earn the love of our boyfriends and husbands. We forget the 50/50 and give 100%, because God’s love has already satisfied! The love of God frees us to love and be loved unconditionally, purely, and freely.
I Haven’t Asked
It seems too simple, but it’s true.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
We think. We wonder. We bewail the lack of good men in the world. We say, “There’s no one in my area!” We read articles and books about the right way to date and we don’t even have a date on the horizon. We wish and hope and dream and of course – talk about it.
But do we ask?
“Dad….” whined my brother Anthony, four years old at the time. “Dad, you aren’t going to let me go outside, are you?”
Dad shuffled papers on his desk and glanced down at Anthony, whose grimy hands grabbed the edge of the desk.
“Is that a question?”
“Well you just aren’t. You aren’t going to let me go outside.” Anthony assumed the worst answer possible in order to – he hoped – garner the pleasant surprise of a ‘yes’ from Dad. He was a pessimist from the beginning.
“You aren’t asking me, T-Joe.” Dad said. “I can’t answer you until you ask.”
As we learn to know and love our incredibly gracious, merciful, sacrificial God, we grow in confidence to approach Him and ask. The answer may not always be ‘yes’, but as you approach Him we come to know what He DOES have in mind for you. God desires to be asked. He wants a relationship with you, where you feel free to come to Him and say, “Lord, I long to be loved by a man and be his one and only. Will you bring me to him? Will you show me the way?”
He sees your tears and keeps them when you feel lonely (Psalm 56:8). He will also guide you in wisdom when you have to make a decision concerning relationships. One verse that is so comforting for those in a time of waiting is Isaiah 58:11:
“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not run dry.”
When you are frustrated and alone, he desires for you to pour out your heart at His feet like Mary, who brought her hope of marriage in the form of an alabaster box and shattered it for His sake (Luke 7:38).
“I love you. You’re so beautiful to me.”
Do I deserve to hear those words every day? By no means. To think I landed a man by implementing a five-step plan of character renovation is ridiculous! I am very much a work in progress. As I look at the love I experience with my man today, I don’t look at it as a victory of my own but as a blessing that God has given me, a pass-through in an upward climb that began with a self evaluation at age 21 and will continue through marriage, should Mr. M and I be wed.
It’s not easy. It requires change and discomfort and honesty about ourselves. If we want to be women who can bless a man someday, we have to be willing to change who we are into something more beautiful. Not ignorant, inflexible, intimidating, or insecure.
Capable. Confident. Complete.
Christ alone can do this for you, and I am so excited for what He has in store for your future!
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