October 19, 2008

the problem with men (probably not what you think).
so i slept for about twelve hours last night. it was glorious. i think i had many dreams, and i remember some faces that appeared, but no plot lines. i really haven't had much luck remembering many dreams the past four months or so, and i'm not sure why... is it that i am not as expectant for You to speak to me through them? or just that i perceive You speaking in so many other ways, that for me to have as many vivid dreams as i used to would just be sensory overload? i know not... i do miss it, though. remind me to start asking more fervently.

i met up with Steve Yi (read: Mister Yi, a.k.a. "mystery"= hilarious!) for a shake on Friday after work, and we unexpectedly landed deep in a conversation about why there is such a disproportionate number of fiery women to fiery men in the church. for the sake of this conversation, "fiery" will mean "totally in love with and seeking to be fully surrendered to Jesus."

the stark reality is, at least in pretty much every place i've been, there are significantly more fiery women than there are men. i certainly have noticed this, and pondered over it mostly because i realize that it makes it quite difficult for fiery women who desire to be married. what the rest of the population calls a "nice Christian man" just doesn't really cut it. if we would be married, we need men that maybe look a little bit crazy to the rest of the world because they don't really give a rip about what people think of them. a fiery man, first and foremost, answers to God. from the Living God comes his identity and his success.

Steve brought this up in our conversation. he said he felt sorry for me (us fiery women), because we have so few men to choose from, and expressed grief over the internal state of christian men (at least, in our small spheres of influence). this caused some emotion to well up in me, as i briefly flipped through the mental pages of my relationship history, and realized that this issue is probably the Number One area of conflict that has ended all of my relationships or potential relationships, whether i wanted it to or not. it's not that the men i've known haven't been great-- it's that most, if not all of them, have no idea how great they are called to be. most of their dreams and ambitions are not grounded in eternity, but rather temporal-ness. their greatness is much bigger than their earthly position or success in this age, but they do not perceive this. therefore, without transformation in the heart, they will struggle all their lives to make themselves important in a way opposite of what Jesus said would make them great: humility. as it is said:

Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. ~ Matthew 20:26-27

back to our conversation. Steve and i started brainstorming about what the root/s of this problem is/are, and possible solutions. we came up with a few ideas.

in Ephesians 5, Paul says that marriage between a man and woman is supposed to be a temporary picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, us (the church). in a marriage relationship, the husband is to love his wife "as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her..." in effect, the husband represents Jesus in a marriage. as he loves his wife with the same love Jesus has for the church, she becomes more sanctified (more like Jesus). it is in the heart of God that marriage in this age would be a means of preparing us for the next, making us more and more like Himself. there is a great sense in which a woman is to experience the love of Jesus through her husband.

but, if the man does not truly know and live in the reality of the love of Jesus, he cannot love a woman this way, and then the beautiful illustration breaks down. so, it seems quite obvious to me (and to Steve) that it would be high on the priority list of the enemy to deceive men about their identity and purpose so as to destroy the very image of Jesus in the family, which ultimately brings much deception to the church at large about the character of God.

so... having this in mind... we think it's possible that the root (or one of them, anyways) of this problem is fear. because, in their hearts, men believe the lie that their identity and value are determined by something/someone other than the unchanging God, they fear rejection. they fear intimacy. they fear commitment. they fear failure. all of these are sides of the same dice. and it seems as though many men live reacting to these fears, instead of living responding to the love of God. when he fears rejection, a man often responds with pride, to cover over the fear. anger, pride, ambition, selfishness, even lust... i think all of these could be manifestations of fear.

so... solutions? well, i don't have a ton of time to write about it now, but a couple quick thoughts. as it is written: "perfect love casts out fear." you cannot purge yourself of fear in your own strength... really, you have to posture yourself to receive the love of God, which basically means spending time with Him; talking with Him, listening to Him, and getting the truth of His Word in your heart. the more you are aware of His presence and love for you, the less room there is for fear. it would probably save us tons of money and time in counseling if we would give ourselves to spending time with God.

so, these are some thoughts. anyone want to contribute? i would especially be interested to hear from you precious believing brothers...


"precious believing brother" said...

I completely agree with the idea that fear, and all the problems following it, is one of the main causes of the lack of fiery men. A problem that a lot of men are faced with is that they grew up believing a lie (lets say about their identity) which affected them as a child, but when they're now 21 years old, they don't see those lies as a big deal. As a child though, it changed the way they think and act. Since those lies are rooted beneath a lot of other junk, it takes time and the work of the Spirit to reveal the secret things of the heart.

I agree with a lot of the other things you and Mr. Yi discussed, and frankly, it's too big of a topic to try and grasp in just one conversation.

Something that has come to my attention concerning loving God has been about intimacy with Him. Instead of saying "intimacy" (which can turn some guys away just because it's sort of flowery language, trust me, I would know =) ) lets call it "knowledge" or "likeness". They're exactly the same thing. i.e. If you and your friend can finish each others... (SENTENCES!) then you share a "like mind". You know that person so well that when you speak the next words out of your mouth, you know they will crack up in laughter simply because you know what they like to laugh about. That example can spread to many spheres of life.

So in essence, the more you KNOW and the more you're LIKE that person, then the more you can bring out your EMOTIONS (the overflow of knowledge) with them in laughter, sorrow, anger, and happiness. If a man were to give his life in a way to KNOW Christ as he would to pursue a woman, then the result will be a fiery heart.

I feel this could go on for a very long time. It really is something interesting to ponder in a man's heart. I liked the title though, it was catchy. Kind of caught me off guard for a second with offense. =)

Bethany Belisa said...

this is beautiful and i am stirred to think on how we women can effectively stir our brothers up to rise to this high and honorable calling. it's in every mans heart ot pursue and win a woman, and if intimacy with the Lord could be seen in that same catagory or even greater than that endeavor, i think we'd be on to something...

i love you, steph. i'm excited to hear your message at torch.


Happy said...

"the more you are aware of His presence and love for you, the less room there is for fear. it would probably save us tons of money and time in counseling if we would give ourselves to spending time with God."

mmm. yes. probably. :)

lol... i am left wondering who your "precious believing brother" is... :) his sense of humor is amusing.

word verification: pepinge

what happens when you get too happy... (binge-ing on pep?) :)

Amanda said...

hi steph. thanks for the comment on the blog! i LOVED the shack. i finished it this past week. We must talk about it. When are you free this week? let's hang out. Please.