Like a rising tide, something started to swell within me, so slowly, I didn’t even realize it was happening.
It lapped at the bottom of my mind. Small rivers made their way into my heart. I noticed it when in a conversation with a friend one day, my words were soaked with disdain.
A disrespect of men.
It came from culture. As everything gets more “female” there seems to be an attitude that, simply put, masculinity is inferior or less evolved, than femininity. That got to me.
It also came from experience. I have my own #metoo story to tell. I also have some experiences as an adult dating guys who, while not abusive, were surely selfish and immature. Some of the people who have most egregiously used their power against me have been men. Even “Christian” men. That didn’t help.
It also came from my own selfishness. I wanted easy. I wanted men to be good at the same things I was. Namely, emotions, and talking. Ha. Selfishness started to dominate my thoughts. Gosh, if I can (fill in the blank)...why can’t they!
Y'all….it’s hard for me to admit that, any of that.
Really hard. First, it devastates me to think that I’ve mistreated, even with my attitude, the good men in my life (which would be my entire immediate family).
Second, I just hate that I let myself get bitter. But I did.
Maybe that is you, too. Or maybe, you just want to continue to improve the relationships with the males in your life. Either way, by God's grace, He revealed a lot to me, as He cleansed me of my bitterness. I'm hopeful that these realizations will be as powerful in your life as they have been in mine.
THE 5 WAYS THAT BELIEVING GOD WILL IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH MEN
1 - BELIEVE GOD WHEN HE SAYS TO ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER
I wish there was a verse in the Bible that said "And love women always, for this is their greatest need. Likewise, show men appreciation, for this is theirs." While it's not laid out that simply in scripture, let me tell you what is.
We are told repeatedly to encourage and edify each other. (See Eph. 4:29-31, Phil. 4:8, 1 Thess. 5:11 and Heb. 3:13 to name a few) Never are we told to criticize, manipulate or ignore each other. Forget the man-woman divide here for a second and just think...do you believe that God was serious when He instructed you to do this? Yes, you.
Sometimes, we seem to have "tit-for-tat" mentality when it comes to being nice. If he loves me the way I want, I'll appreciate him the way he wants. If they are nice to me, I'll be nice to them. If they earn my appreciation, I'll give it.
Sorry, but that is not what scripture says.
We are not supposed to build each other up only when we feel like it. Or only when we feel the other person deserves it. We are commanded to "let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear..." Eph 4:29. Yes, even to those who are frustrating and sinful.
You want to improve your relationships with men and everyone, really? Ask God to help you be nice! A refreshing well of encouragement!
Our words have great power and scripture makes it clear...they should be chosen wisely and given freely, not withheld to show anger for not getting what we want.
2 - BELIEVE GOD WHEN HE SAYS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
For you ladies out there who have been in a string of bad or dead-end relationships, it is time for you to own up to your part in it.
Yup. God makes it clear in many ways that we have a part in what happens in our lives. (Read more about this thing called Personal Responsibility in these passages: Galatians 6:7–8, Isaiah 3:10–11, Ezekiel 18:20)
It's easy to act like everything is the guy's fault and that this all keeps happening to you because there are "no good men left." It's easy to blame others for your hurt, disappointment and even singleness.
(Quick note here, I'm not telling anyone to take the blame for ABUSE. I'm talking about choices you have willingly made to participate in behavior that was disrespectful to you.)
You are the one who fell for him when you knew he wasn’t really “single.” You are the one who went back to his apartment on the first date. You are the one who kissed him when you know he didn’t love Jesus. You are the one who responded to that objectifying text message. You were the one who threw your heart at him just because he said all the right things. You are the one who made the excuse for him not calling when he said he would call.
Now, you are the one crying "all men are pigs!" (I know because I've been there) Pigs are in our lives because we let them be.
WHY you let them be is a much bigger issue then I have time to deal with here. (I do help women often with this in one-on-one personal coaching. Find out more here: About Coaching)You got impatient, you have idolized men or marriage, you don't have a proper sense of worth, you are dealing with the sin of lust, they were manipulative and you slowly began to allow behaviors you once would not have....
Regardless, my point, harsh as it may be, remains...you want better relationships with men? Own it. Don’t blame it on culture. Don’t blame it on your absent dad. Don't blame your past. Don't blame "stupid men."
The "I only date unavailable men who always hurt me" cycle is pretty easy to stop. 1) admit your part in it 2) forgive yourself for forgetting your worth 3) go be different.
You will be surprised how quickly you will start to notice and even attract good men, men of honor, when you treat yourself the same way. Funny thing...good relationships will happen in your life when those are the only kind you allow.
3 - BELIEVE GOD WHEN HE SAYS YOU ARE FULLY LOVED, NOW
It's extremely difficult for some people to just accept love. Right now. As they are. They really want to earn it or they are crazy terrified to lose it. Not exactly breeding ground for good relationships!
God actually made men pretty good at giving love. Once a good man has zeroed in on a lady he wants to make “his” he is perfectly designed to just love her for being her. He delights in her for what seems like no reason at all. Yet, women still want to earn it. And they really want acknowledgment for all their efforts. They need what they do to be noticed. This is frankly, baffling to the guy, because women are in essence, trying to earn a love that has already been given to them, freely.
Understanding and accepting the love of God will banish both the need to earn love and the fear of letting it in.
Girl...when it comes to the love of God, you need to understand that not only do you not have to earn it...you don’t get to earn it.
Jesus earned it for you. Please, don't waste any more time doubting God. If He say’s you are fully loved, you are. If He says you are enough, you are. If He delights in you right now, just because you are made in His image, then He does.
I know it feels uncomfortable to be delighted in. Seen. Accepted. Loved. But let it happen. You'll get used to it, I PROMISE.
Refusing to accept this free gift is either pride or fear - both of which will forever create difficult relationships with men. Pray against both.
4 - BELIEVE GOD WHEN HE SAYS JESUS (NOT MAN) IS YOUR SAVIOR
Ongoing strife, anger, hatred or an attitude of superiority towards men is sometimes rooted in the idolatry of their love or approval.
Breathe that in.
If you want to enjoy better relationships with men you must stop believing that they are going to somehow complete you. You must shed the romantic notion that they will satisfy your every longing. You must take them off the pedestal.
You must let Jesus be your first place of validation and rest.
Now, I’m a hopeless romantic. I've been known to be in love with love. I have found few happier places than wrapped up in the arms of a strong, good man. But let me tell you one place that is happier...kneeling at the feet of my Loving Jesus.
I mean that.
Why? Because at their best moment, relationships with men can provide some stability, affirmation, release, connection, and validation. But Jesus provides all of that, always. My hope is in Jesus and his perfection...not in a man.
Men were never ever meant to fulfill all your needs. God uses them sometimes, just like He uses us. Often we get to enjoy God's grace and love through others, but that must be enjoyed as a gift and not relied upon as our souls nutrition.
It is up to you to feed your soul, girl.
Let men be human and their love be a gift. Let Jesus be your God and His love be your sustenance.
5 - BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS...OVER WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS
While culture is bent on making women superior to men, there are some Christians and churches that are bent on making women inferior.
It's important to think about what we are taught, even in the church, by trusted leaders, to make sure it aligns with the Word of God. There is a really damaging message going around in some circles that goes something like this, “Men are in control of everything except their own sexual desires.”
Ok, first, men aren't animals. Men do not get a pass on sexual sin. They are 100% expected to control their desires and bodies. Need some proof? Check out Romans 13:14, Col. 3:5, Eph. 5:5, Phil. 4:8, 1 Thes 4:3-8, Heb. 13:4...the list goes on...
Don't buy the lie that men aren't held to the same standard as you and me when it comes to sin. Any sin. That will cause you to resent them greatly. Secretly, perhaps, but still greatly.
You are responsible to handle your body with honor. So are they.
Second, men aren't in control of everything. Yes, they are called to some specific roles of leadership that we aren't but if you really understand leadership you know that leadership doesn't mean "control" at all. Leadership means sacrifice, the never-ending mental burden of responsibility and consistently trying to balance the best interests of those you lead. You also know that all leaders still answer to someone and that leadership can be extremely wearisome.
So they don't get a free "power pass" either, just because they are men, as some say. If you believe that, you will likely begin to resent men, for just being men.
For the sake of this blog, I'm not going to chase rabbits and get into things like submission, women in leadership, etc. My point here is simple: Men and women are held to the same standards and given the same amount of respect in the Kingdom of God.
Believing anything less will put an unhealthy twist all your relationships with men.
I want to enjoy the fullness of life. I want that for you, too. That always comes from finding God's Truth and choosing to believe it.
God didn’t mess up on men. He didn't mess up on their calling. He also didn’t mess up on women. He knew exactly what he was doing when He made one of us from Mars and the other from Venus. So if we have a different take on that at all, the problem is with our thinking and our sinful (or wounded) heart. God is never wrong. He said it was good...it is good.
Sadly, when we harbor ill thoughts or feelings towards any group based on their gender WE MISSING OUT ON ENJOYING THE BLESSING OF GOD'S PERFECT DESIGN: The blessing of companionship, the blessing of encouragement, the blessing of learning, the blessing of teamwork, the blessing of growth, the blessing of intimacy, the blessing of service, the blessing of laughter and fun (because let's be honest, the menfolk provided a lot of that.) The blessing of BEING A BLESSING.
So, let’s get our minds right. Let’s push back against the voices of culture, the wounds delivered by a fallen world, and our own sin within.
Let's not be robbed of enjoying this wonderful creation called...MEN!