I love my Christian women-friends. They are warrior-poets. They are funny and intelligent public-servants. They are killing it in their careers. They know the presence of the Holy Spirit. They are keeping company with God often and for long periods of time. They have put the hours into knowing who they are and discovering their passions. They are serving God with them.
They, like I, are overwhelmingly single.
Oh, I know that there are good men out there. Men who are thoughtful, fun, quick-witted, kind and honorable. Men who pursue us, who have passions and hobbies, and who appreciate intelligence, competence and strength, who are clear and consistent. The problem is: I rarely meet them in the church.
Sometimes it feels easier to be done with men altogether than to keep riding the craziness that is the Christian Dating Train.
My two relationships (10th grade and freshmen year of college) ended because the boy was not Christian. All the relationships since then…10 long years…have never started because the interested boy/man (whom I was also attracted to) was not Christian. There have been some objectively very good and very impressive men. Men who would make great spouses and fathers…until it came to living, loving, and teaching me and our kids about Jesus. Saying no to them have been some of the hardest moments. It has felt like saying no to an increasingly improbable dream.
It was hard to say no to men who valued me and my sense of humor and my intelligence. Who valued my gifts with children and playfulness and backbone. Men who could appreciate a woman filling more time with lessening health disparities than filling the pores on her forehead. Men who appreciated funny poems and thoughtful conversation. Men who didn’t wait fifteen years to say “hey. I like talking to you. Do you want to get coffee/go for a run/get a drink/go to [event] sometime?” Men who liked the look of happy-just-got-back-from-a-run with hair in disarray and low-maintenance faces. Men who were competent themselves.
Men inside the church? They seem to see a woman’s purpose as one-dimensional. To make their lives easier. To look beautiful while they support their man and raise children. And us? We aren’t sweet girls who sit and look pretty and smile. We are convinced that meeting everyone’s needs won’t make us happy if we’re ignoring risking it for other things God is calling us to. While family is the most important earthly thing we’re given, it’s not the only important thing.
Yes, we’ll mostly sacrifice, but what if there were more men out there like The Farmer, who says “my calling is to support Ann [Voskamp] and her calling.” Men like Zac Allen, who realized “Not long after the wedding day, Jennie found herself with a passive-aggressive, emotionless husband, and her God-given passions and dreams began to die. At the time, I thought I was right and biblically justified in my “leadership” of Jennie. But I was wrong. I had memorized “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands,” but had no clue of what it meant for husbands to nourish and cherish their wives. I used submission to squelch my wife so I could justify my “more important” pursuits.” He now asks what way His family can most effectively be on mission for God, not just himself (link here Zac Allen)
This is not just about me. It’s about lovely, highly-educated, strong girlfriends, too. It’s about the disproportionately high number of sweet, submissive girls in relationships vs the number of strong yet submissive girls in relationships.
It means hoards of young men are not hearing a message about the Proverbs 31 woman being strong and in the marketplace and a businesswoman, too. It means a whole generation of men is confusing easier with better. Confusing submission to a man as a woman’s only God-given purpose, instead of mutual submission to Jesus. It means men would rather simple support than to sometimes sacrifice and see God through a risk His wife feels led to take. It means a generation of men are not used to seeing their mothers pursue their purposes. It means we miss out on iron sharpening iron.
And so we choose…who God made us to be, or whether we act to land a Christian man. We choose the former, because we don’t want to end up an empty shell or idol-worshipper, but it can still be something of a battle. If I’m being honest, there are times I resent God for it. Resent Him for the way men keep coming into my life that I can’t date.
But I keep going back to that mountain-climb of Saying thanks in faith. God keeps saying “just a little longer” and “say thanks in faith.” So I’ll keep saying it, keep leaning into it. Keep loving God through my confusion. Keep knowing somewhere down deep that this making me better. Keep reaching out for truth on this issue. A wise woman encouraged me to take every thought captive when it feels like resentment is creeping in. And it’s true, I need to do it, because truth is always a battle worth fighting for.
But I also want to stir up some awareness in how we as a church seem to be raising men. I also want you to know you’re not alone if you’re fighting these frustrations. God sees and knows and loves, and that’s something we can keep holding on to.