Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Measure of a Man

I've had several discussions lately with my young lady friends about a certain topic: guys. Now, I'm not meaning the ridiculous "I think he likes me" and "He's so cute" kinda talk. I'm meaning really serious, deep conversations on our perspective on what men should be and what the world says they should be. It has been very interesting, I will say. =)

One of the things that has always bothered me with young girls is that they seem to have this extremely romantic perception of how a guy should treat them. Now, I'm not saying that married men aren't romantic, but I'm talkin' about the 'He will sweep me off my feet and catch me when I fall and say all the right things and everything will be just perfect' kind of talk.

So what's wrong with this expectation? Pretty much everything. Now, before you jump ahead, let me explain. Yes, guys can be romantic (my dad is pretty romantic, and so are my brothers sometimes). Yes, they will sweep you off your feet on occasion.. but it isn't all the time. Yes, they will say the right thing, but again, not all the time. But, no, not everything will be perfect. Let's break this down.

Women tend to lean on the more romantic side of things. We like the chick-flicks, the flowers, the sweet sayings, etc. Guys aren't built this way. They are built to provide, protect, and lead. Now that doesn't mean they can't be romantic. It just means that sometimes their idea of romance is far from our own.

Sweep you off your feet? Of course! But ya know what? I've noticed that when married women talk about being swept off their feet, it isn't by the usual 'we'll waltz 'til midnight' type of thing. It's usually something like "He did the dishes for me when he knew I was tired" kind of sweeping. But ya know what? That's much better in my opinion.

Say the right thing? Sometimes. But guess what? You, as a woman, won't say all the right things to him either! Everyone's idea of the 'right thing' is different, so it really does vary on the scale. However, this doesn't mean it won't happen. Men who really know their woman usually know the 'right things to say'... but, quite frankly, I'd much prefer if he were honest and mean it than to say what I want to hear just because its the 'right thing to say'. (unless we're asking if we look fat. Then you'd better say we look beautiful.. lol!).

So what's wrong with the idea of thinking a guy will do all these things? Well, for one thing, high expectation on certain things like this will often lead to disappointment and a breaking of relationships. This is also caused by lack of communication, but yeah. Another topic. =) So we have this high expectation going into marriage and then we find out that not all of it is true. When husband comes home from work and he's dead tired, he may not want to sit and snuggle on the couch. Instead, he may eat dinner, saying about ten words throughout, and then hit the sack. But in the same way, we woman can often disappoint the men in our lives in the same way. He might have planned a romantic evening after the kids have all gone to bed and his wife comes in, gives him the 'yeah right' look and heads off to finish folding laundry.

I'll come forth and confess that I tend to be rather romantic... yet I also tend to go 'ew' to romance.. weird mix, I know. Perhaps the 'ew' romance is what I used to like.. but after visiting with wiser, older married women, I've discovered that my ideas were totally off.

So, ladies, you may find that as you get older (and I pray this is so!) that your idea of romance has changed.

Now, since I've gone over that, I'd like to share a few of my own ideas about the measure of a man. See, I used to think it was about how many times he brought me flowers, send me sweet notes, or took me on long walks. Um.. yeah. Thank goodness for wonderful parents who have helped me change those ideas!

I want to give my ideas in an example. I'm bragging on my dad, so brace yourselves. =)

A couple years ago, we had a rather big snow storm come through. Now, this wasn't so bad, really, except what it did to our SUPER long road. Our road is about 1 and 1/3 mile long. It is set slightly lower than ground level, so when we have snow, the drifts just blow right in and settle down. Rather annoying. So, this particular winter day, we had spent the afternoon/evening with our friends. We headed home and, upon discovering our road, decided we would just drive through the pasture where the snow wasn't so deep (that's countrified for ya). Well, just as dad was about to turn off onto higher ground, the car got stuck in a deep drift (I should say, the Excursion, not car. Now you get a better picture of how bad the road was). Well, we were definitely stuck... So, dad decided he would walk back the house, get the tractor, and come pull us out. Only problem was that he didn't have much on for walking through freezing cold wind and slick snow. He had on his nice boots with the slick bottoms, his thin coat, his docker pants, etc. No hat, no gloves, nothin'. We all began passing items up to him. Someone had a pair of gloves, someone had a scarf. We had a towel from carrying the casserole dish earlier that day, so we wrapped it over his head... yeah, a funny sight, to be sure. But ya know what? He walked that entire distance, in the slippery snow (falling once or twice, I might add) and freezing cold. Now, he could have sent one of us spry kids who were more prepared with thick coats and such, but instead he did the job himself. He was the man and did what it took to provide and shelter his family. Finally, past midnight, we got home safe and sound. (approx. 2 hour the whole thing took).

Now, that may not sound like the cozy, warm feeling romance that most girls envision, but I can tell ya that it was a whole lot better. Period.

Then, just recently, my dad made me cry. In a good way. He was dealing with an extremely frustrating situation and, instead of yelling and getting angry, he calmly dealt with it and kept his cool the entire time. I was crying for two reasons, actually. One was that he told me later that he really wanted to get upset, but he realized it wasn't going to help. This made me ashamed of myself, for one. I realized that I don't always do so well when dealing with frustrating situations. The other reason was that, for some unexplained womanly feeling, I just felt so proud of him. This particular situation would have tested many a man to be weak and crack, but my father stood strong and tall in face of the beast and conquered it in the best way. He was leading in the best way, too: by example.

See, it isn't about how romantic you want your man to be. Instead we need to be seeking and praying for strong, Godly men who are humble leaders, teachable, and willing to fight for what's right, no matter what. If you can find that sort of fella, then, young lady, you are definitely blessed. In today's society they are becoming rather rare.

Now, here's something I've learned, too. While I may pray for this sort of man for myself one day, I also realize that some future sisters-in-law are also praying for the same thing. I now have the opportunity to help my brothers becomes those wonderful leaders by allowing them to lead me. (we get to practice on each other, right? Because I get to learn to respect them like I will respect my husband someday). So, if you have brothers, whether they be by blood or in Christ, encourage them. And no, this doesn't mean you're flirting or anything like that, but sometimes a simple "Thank you" for them treating you like a lady goes a long way.

So, ladies, don't let Disney and fairy tales and 'fluff' books turn your head in the wrong direction about romance. Instead turn to God's word. Everything you need in a man is listed for ya, right there.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Assuming for the Lord

How many times have we prayed 'Thy will be done'? I don't think I could count how many times I've said it. I've said it in church when reciting the "Lord's prayer" and probably prayed it many a time (just not those exact words).

We say it... but how much do we really mean it? I've realized that whenever I pray that God's will be done, I tend to assume that His will is going to match up with what I'm asking for. We have gotten this idea in our heads that when we ask the Lord for something, it will be given to us. Before I move on, I will say that yes, I know the verse in the bible that speaks of asking and we shall receive... but do we really know if what we are asking for is good?

Often times we commit things to prayer and we really expect a 'yes' in reply. We aren't ready for a 'no' and we certainly have a hard time accepting it when it's been given to us.

I remember, when I was much younger, I would ask my mom for something and, when she said no, I would simply go and ask Dad. Sometimes he would say yes (not knowing that mom had already said no).
Or, if they answered no, I would still go ahead and do said thing (or have said thing) and then later pretend that, "oh, I didn't hear you say that".....

Ok, enough about my childhood confessions.. hah! Seriously, though, I just recently realized that I do this to God... a lot. If He gives me an answer I don't like, I tend to pray about it several more times 'just to be sure'.

When I pray for God to give me a yes to buy that equipment, or write this book, or publish this story, or allow me to get married, I always have this little sub-conscience thought in the back of my mind.

He'll bring it to pass.

Why do I assume that? I'm not God. I don't know what God has willed for my life. I don't know if it includes getting married, raising a family, publishing hundreds of books, or getting fancy equipment to do recording and filming. I don't. But I assume that it will happen. I assume because it is what I desire and somehow I've allowed myself to think that if I pray for it hard and long enough, it will actually happen. The reality is, however, that God's will is perfect. Mine is not.

Now, it sounds great to say, "Oh, wow. I didn't realize I was doing that. No problem. Won't make the same mistake twice!"... nope.

It. Is. So. Hard.

It isn't easy to change! It isn't easy to realize when you're in the wrong. It isn't easy to confess and ask God's forgiveness for putting Him in a box and thinking I could make Him give me what I want. Nope. Not easy. In fact, I'm still working on getting over it. When we've formed a habit, it's difficult to 'un-form' it...

Now, here is a funny thing about God's perfect timing... We have recently been doing a bible study of sorts with 3 other families called "The Truth Project". Don't know if any of y'all have heard of it, but we are really enjoying it. The funny thing is that we got this study several years ago and never actually started it... yet, I realized that I'm not sure I really would have gotten a whole lot out of the study if we had done it back then. "Back then" I didn't really pay attention to bible studies, sermons, etc because I honestly wasn't really concerned about my personal growth. I really didn't like the idea of giving up everything to God. I really didn't. So, I didn't. I went to church with my family and all that, but usually I let my mind wander to other things. During Bible study before school, I honestly couldn't wait for it to end. I hated having to sit and listen to other's talk about the Bible. I really didn't care. It sounds terrible, I know, but I find it amazing to see how God works. I have gotten SO much out of The Truth Project (and we've only done 3 sessions so far!).

So, random bit there, but I thought it sort of applied. =)

Back on track again, I have made it another goal of mine to not assume with the Lord. I know there will be MANY times that I fail... but, as a wise person once told me, "'Failed' is just another word for "I have learned my lesson and now know how to do it differently'." Amen?