It’s about time I wrote this post, and if I don’t force it in this weekend, I might not find any time to do it this month. Work and blogging are just not compatible.
I’m writing, as I did in the first post, out of love and concern – and partly because the guys said “You need to approach it from that angle, too.” This letter is not me standing on a podium and yelling at you. It’s me reflecting and discussing and speaking to us – me included. You will probably assume that some of these are lessons that I myself learned over the years. You’re very right. So in part two of this issue that has been on my heart:
1) If we’re waiting on Mr. Perfect, we’re 2000 years too late. It’s very unrealistic to expect a man to measure up to some movie, magazine, or billboard character. If you really think about it, these characters themselves don’t even measure up, and require hours of makeup, working out, Photoshop and etiquette and voice training to get them to look and sound as sexy and gentlemanly as they appear to us. The majority of them have careers that are based on their appearances. And because they are a tiny fraction of the population, I’m sure it’s safe to assume that this does not apply to your man. The only Perfect Man that walked this earth came and left 2,000 years ago. Guess what – we have access to Him even now. And guess what else – judging by Isaiah 53:2, He was probably not even good-looking. So why don’t we just accept that the computer programmer who sits all day and the doctor who has no time to take care of himself because he’s too busy taking care of others just might get a teeny weeny pot belly, the business executive might not have too many opportunities to dress up in anything other than a suit, and the blue collar worker might not have that much money. Life is about so much more than perfection. Take it from a former perfectionist who wisened up: perfectionists will forever be miserable in an imperfect world.
2) If we don’t think they’re all that, we should let them go for someone else who will. This is of course for those who are unmarried. If you’re married, I’m sorry but you have to deal. Okay, so we can’t deal with the blue collar worker and the pot belly. If it’s that big a deal, then it’s better to do everyone a favor and end the relationship. Think about it; a woman who clings to a man she feels is not right for her is holding up a lot of people: herself, the man, her real man, and her current man’s real woman. Worth it? No, I don’t think so, unless one is being really spiteful.
3) If we don’t check our girlfriends, we’ll sacrifice our relationships. Sometimes, our friends mean well, but we all know how we women can be, so I know you’ll agree with me that sometimes, they really don’t mean well. Opinions are like noses, everybody comes with one. Everybody is going to have something to say about your man. You have to know yourself and your standards and figure out what you want so that when people are harping on about how ugly, uneducated, insincere, not-saved-enough, uncaring, etc. your man is, you are not internalizing these things, but rather have seen them if they exist and are willing to live with them, or know that they don’t exist and your friends have a skewed perception. The reason I talk about knowing yourself is it takes away from that self-imposed need to measure up to everyone everywhere every time. It’s okay to let our friends talk about what their boyfriends bought them and where they took them, but we should not allow it to become a source of covetousness, because covetousness creates pressure and remember a virtuous woman’s man has no need of spoil.
4) If we fault-find, we’ll find faults. It’s the reality of living in an imperfect world. It doesn’t matter how wonderful a man is; something about him is going to be irritating. A woman who is so bent on seeing what’s wrong that she is too blinded to see what’s right will find something to criticize every single day. I read a story about an old couple who was asked the secret behind the success of their decades-long marriage. The wife said, “I decided to make an imaginary list of ten deal-breakers. Every single time my husband did something wrong, I said to myself, ‘He’s lucky that’s not one of the ten.’”
5) If we criticize cruelly, we build a crevice. Nobody grows from being criticized. Not even plants. I remember a pastor saying that he wanted to try out the power of words and decided to select a plant from his compound that he would curse every time he got home in the evening. He did it without fail for a few days. “You’re an ugly plant. You won’t even grow right. You will not be successful.” Within a week, the plant had wilted. I am paraphrasing the things that he said to the plant, and I’m not sure how true this story is, but I know for sure that this is what happens to the man who ends up for life with a woman who criticizes him 24/7. He will begin to wilt, and a gap will be formed between them. There’s no husband or fiancé or boyfriend anywhere on this planet who can do nothing right. And we have to check ourselves to see if what we are criticizing is not a “character flaw” that God has placed in him, or an action that God ordained. That excessive friendliness could be a sign of an evangelist and the attention to detail could show tat he cares about people. Remember what Michal did to David? She hated the fact that he danced before the Lord, and it did not go well for her, at all. Again, if you’re not married and have concluded that he’s not right for you, just let him go.
6) If we want to be with men, why expect them to be women? Who is going to wear the pants? Not us, if things are to go well. Why should we expect men to behave like women? It has been said that if two people serve the same purpose in an outfit, then one of them is unnecessary. Balance can be achieved without chaos, and any being with two heads is abnormal and cannot survive. Men don’t often express love like we do. They have to learn us and it often takes deliberate effort for them to do things that would make us gush. Do you see concern and care when he looks at you? Does he pay the bills? Does he respect you, love you, pray with and for you? Has he been there through good times and bad? Then it’s okay if he doesn’t say “I love you” ten times a day or if he doesn’t get the door for you.
7) If he notices that I don’t need him, he’ll feel inadequate. Men want to feel and know that they are needed. I still don’t understand why this is such a big deal, nor do I know exactly what it does for them, but I know for sure that it’s true. Your marriage or relationship is not the forum to demonstrate how macho you are. Obviously, being clingy or whiny and using a two-year-old baby voice is not helpful, either. But it’s okay to show our weaknesses, and it’s important to be feminine.
8) If I want independence as defined by the 2012 generation, then I do not want a relationship or marriage. Men get married to do all those “boring” things feminists don’t like: have offspring, warm meals and a cozy home to go to, someone in their corner. I’ve heard it said that marriage is like a lock whose key is thrown into the ocean. That in itself should be a caveat for any woman who does not want to have children soon. In this day and age, an independent woman is defined as someone who makes tons of money, can pay her bills, and does not have children to hold her back. She can “hold her own”, so to speak. Marriage is not for those who want to be independent. It’s for those who are mature.
9) If we choose to be immature, we will forever be insecure. True love breeds maturity, and maturity breeds security. When we get to the point where it really does not matter whose boyfriend or husband is hotter than ours, who makes more money, who gets more gifts, who is prettier and all that nonsense, we realize that we have saved ourselves so much heartache and so many headaches. Part of maturity is knowing what counts. It’s knowing what love is. If having a nice car means more to you than having a loving relationship, then perhaps you have a little growing up to do. If good looks are more important than good character, then check the sign at the door of your location and see if it does not say “Baby Class.”
10) If we do or don’t because they did or didn’t, we’ve missed the point. As painful as this might be for us to admit, if he gets the cold shoulder because he forgot Valentine’s Day, then we’re doing it wrong. Love is not about getting our own or doing what has been done to us. It’s doing to others what we would want them to do to us. I say as much to myself as to us all that there is no room for sulking, rudeness, impatience, and tit-for-tat in a mature relationship. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a woman buying a man a car for his birthday, or treating him to a delightful Valentine’s Day.
These are no-brainers, really, but it’s very easy to forget them and to find ourselves struggling with situations that really should be simple. Love casts out fear, covers all things, and softens hard hearts. If we open our eyes and begin to operate out of love, we will see that we are tremendously blessed and favored.