Last week I wrote a letter to the female race, you may have read it. If you didn’t, it might be a good place to start.
This is quite a different letter, to the ladies I was trying to give a glimpse of insight into the way one particular guy thought, felt and acted. To you I’ve got a few words of advice.
Decide if you like a girl, find a way to let her know, and explore if that liking turns to love.
I told you I only had a few. Because, who am I to try and tell you much else?
You have walked a road that I have not travelled. The chances for love may have been punctuated with disappointment. I do not think I can write for every situation that you will have experienced.
It is not my place to opine about you longing after a girl who has walked away.
Can I with any credibility chastise the philanderer who leads each girl on and into his arms, but finds that there is another more pleasing to his eyes?
When you tell me that you have asked out one woman and then the next, and this has happened time and time again and they continue to turn you down: because my rejection count does not compare, I cannot advise.
And when you meet the one who you love, when she takes a step into the church and you turn and gaze up the aisle, the joy that overwhelms must be contained.
Because I have not been there. I have not lived the life you live.
But in fact, we need to help each other. We need to be honest about the challenges we face, share the hopes that we have and the dreams that one day might be our reality.
We need to cry when sadness darkens our day, confide when we’ve nowhere left to turn. Tell each other when we are being idiots, encourage us in our pursuit, or caution against heartache that might lurk ahead.
We do not know the life that each other leads unless we let each other in. We cannot help each other until first we welcome help. We are not ready to love a lady, with all our heart, with all our strength, if we have not first learnt who we are.
We cannot use the exceptionalness of our lives as a shroud to permit secrecy. Of course we all have experiences that others have not shared, and we will sometimes struggle to comprehend what greets each others’ day. The words of advice may be idiotic, the comfort we bring ineffectual, but that is not an excuse to close our lives off. And how will we ever get better at helping one another if we do not give it a go.
I talked to a few girls before writing this letter, and basically, they want to know if we like them. I recounted a story, maybe because it’s quirkiness hid my true vulnerability. That there was a girl who I liked, and I chose to spend time around her, and as my affection grew I realised that my actions could be construed as evidence of my interest so I backed off. I was worried that the girl to whom I was expressing an interest might actually realise how I felt. I also didn’t want anyone else getting onto the idea that I liked her. That might puncture my charade.
That’s how crazy I can be, I can tie myself in knots. And the ladies I told struggled to comprehend this ludicrous behaviour.
And I know that in other ways, you too can act a little crazy. Sometimes we purport ourselves as content on our own that we ignore the interest of the fairer sex. Sometimes we are so desperate for attention that we take the easy chances, find the girls that will have us. Sometimes we stay with someone long after our interest has waned because our fear of conflict takes over.
We have also emasculated our emotions in an attempt to conform to the cultural caste of gender.
We think that guys should be manly, concerned only with adventures, hand-wrestling grizzly bears and we have turned Jesus into that man. We have tried too hard to make God masculine. We have forgotten how to cry.
As Joe Carter put it: “Young men don’t need a Jesus who strolls like the Duke, squints like Clint Eastwood, and snarls like dick Cheney. They don’t need Jesus the cagefighter, they just need Jesus the Savior”.
Until we are comfortable with Jesus as a paragon of vulnerable masculinity we will try to live a life that isn’t reflecting Him. And I think for a start this means countering our pride. I’ve made it clear before that I’m open to girls giving a relationship a kick start. This can be a hard thing for us, it seems like we’ve been pre-empted, had our role taken. But we get things so very wrong so very often, whether it is about misplaced attraction, about ignorance of how other feel, about how we may have led a girl to think we were interested. About how we may shy away from facing that spectre of rejection, and if a girl gives a guy a helping hand we should welcome it and not resent it.
Finally, a word on singleness and marriage. We have got to esteem marriage more highly, and stop just thinking one day it will come to us, at a time when it is convenient, at a moment when we are less busy, less lustful for the next beautiful girl, at a time when we are ready to settle down.
But it’s also a problem when we are too desperate for marriage, I could pretty much quote all of what Max Dubinsky has written over at the Good Women Project, but this will suffice: “The enemy loves that you so desperately want to be married, that you’re crying on your bedroom floor begging God for a boyfriend or girlfriend because you can’t handle being alone. That your attention is focused on finding someone to marry. He loves that you don’t think you will be happy until you find ‘the one’”. We have to learn to be single well.
If this all sounds a bit too emotional, that’s okay, we’re all made differently. But if it does sound like I’m trying to get you to open up, think about your feelings, then I am. I think there is nothing worse that the facade that we perpetuate that we men do not have feelings. That we are unemotional beings with a lustful intent that we conquer by brute force as Ulysses chained himself to the mast to avoid the charms of the Sirens.
There’s much more I could say, but for now let’s end it here, and let us also remember to talk. So maybe my words were not as few as I made out, or my advice as limited as I suggested, but we shouldn’t shy away from taking time to grapple with complexity.
Girls, if you’ve been reading I guess that’s okay. Give us a chance, and help us where you can.