Real Men Are "Rough Around the Edges"
- Thursday, December 18, 2008
Perhaps it’s the “dangerous, passionate, alive, and free” label that seems like too tall an order for the average Christian male to fill, especially when they feel as if women expect (read: demand) this from them. In reading through the responses of men, I heard plenty of passion and expectations, but also world-weariness. Some seemed even more jaded than women on the state of single Christian America.
“Christians put unrealistic expectations on each other,” said one man in his early thirties who answered that he would like to be married someday if he meets the right person. “There seems to be this feeling that because you are a Christian you must be perfect or more normal than others. Fact is we are all human and imperfect so we need to accept that fact or else we will always be frustrated at being disappointed in our significant other.”
Unrealistic expectations—and modern singles’ propensity to have a checklist of requirements in their ideal mate—actually work against true love. If it looks like love, acts like love, and has the staying power of love, then it’s probably the real deal. “The dating scene is OK as far as it goes,” writes another man in my survey. “It's the progressing-to-marriage scene that's a problem. I wish women didn't feel they need a light shining down from heaven on a man and a voice booming ‘he’s the one’ in order to make a decision. My last girlfriend wouldn't marry me because she felt she wasn't getting a clear signal from God that I was ‘the one.’ It was incredibly frustrating and her breaking up with me broke my heart.” Somewhere out there, I can’t help but think there’s a young woman who realized too late that true love was standing right in front of her, but she let it slip away.
Women who strike a gracious balance between accepting men as they are—admittedly rough around the edges—yet gently prod them to be their best self might find a true knight after all, or at least a knight-in-the-making. We all would do well to learn this lesson about looking for the best in the man or woman right in front of us.
In a chapter titled “Finding True Love,” Jillian Straus, author of Unhooked Generation, tells the stories of several couples who seem to have found what we all yearn for—a love with staying power, a romance that stands the test of time. She tells the story of Clark and Sophia, a couple so right for each other, so madly in love, other people gaze at them with envy. Yet in the early days of their romance, Sophia almost gave up on the relationship, thinking Clark wasn’t her “type.” Paralyzed by making a wrong choice and the fear of divorce, for a long time Sophia resisted how right Clark was for her. After talking with a professional counselor, Sophia realized that while she’d been waiting for Prince Charming, a real man had shown up instead. “Once I got over my fear, I looked at Clark through new eyes,” Sophia told Straus. “Love doesn’t choose you. You choose love. Someone doesn’t just show up on your doorstep, whether it is Tom Cruise or Edward Norton or whomever your fantasy man is, and you fall in love. I truly thought when the perfect man showed up, I would just feel all those things. But we do it for ourselves. If you have your walls up—fear and skepticism—you just won’t fall head over heels. No one can bring it out if you are not open to it. Once I learned that, everything changed.”1
We do ourselves a favor—and open ourselves up to the possibility of true love—when we drop our defenses, shred our checklist, and start seeing people as God does, with all the potential they possess.
1Jillian Straus, Unhooked Generation (New York: Hyperion, 2006), 209-19.
A.J. Kiesling is the author of Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House) and the novel Skizzer (Revell). A religion writer for Publishers Weekly, she has written more than a dozen books.
You can reach her at www.ajkiesling.com.
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