The battle between passion and passivity
Dear men, I understand: Women are quite complicated, and “quite” may be an understatement at times. We can be overly determined and dedicated in pursuing our passions and goals that we come across as “too strong” for men; yet sometimes, we get whiny and weepy that men feel that we are too clingy and insecure. This vacillation might shove you into a pit of doubt and fear when it comes to making the first move.
In that pit, you may have prayed and felt the peace of God to take a friendship to greater heights. And yet, you find yourself in this confounding tension between desire and distress. You don’t know if she is interested in you, or if she’s just being a “nice Christian lady” who is always encouraging and caring towards everyone. Your liking for her is besieged with doubts on whether she would reciprocate your feelings, and by the thought that you might not be “good enough” for her. Pursuing Christian women may seem even more daunting and tricky than it already is, and this perplexing tension causes men to stop initiating.
Man vs. Man
When caught in the middle of passion and passivity, men could battle with inadequacies when they compare themselves with others. These feelings really kick-in when you find yourself lacking a particular trait that your love interest is looking out for. Truth is, there will always be someone better. It could be someone who plays the guitar with more finesse, someone who understands the Word of God at a deeper level, or someone more charming than you are. It is fruitless to compare yourselves to other men, or try to be someone whom you think she might like. Instead, may I urge you to find your steadfastness and confidence in Christ, that you will choose to emulate Jesus Christ because that is what women are attracted to — Christ-likeness.
A guy, who is relatively short, once told me that the girl he was interested in desired for a tall man. It might seem like a minor setback, yet my heart went out to him because there was nothing he could do to grow another five inches, even if he wanted to. I remember him bringing his heart before God, and allowing his heart to find security back in God’s faithfulness and providence for him, rather than forcing the friendship to progress.
Active Spiritual Leadership
After countless conversations with Godly women about men, I believe that one of the keys to unravelling a woman’s heart is spiritual leadership. Being a leader does not mean being brash and loud, but about being wholly surrendered to God’s leading. While society might call for men to be strong and self-reliant, I believe that there is a greater call for men to rise up as leaders who are reliant on God. It is in knowing that men are dedicated in pursuing after Christ, that women are willing to be led by a man and to walk in step with him.
More than choosing to follow Christ, active spiritual leadership is assuming a position of authority and trust, and forging the way forward with the woman. Just as Christ is the head of the church, men are called to be the head of the household (Ephesians 5:23). I firmly believe that men must first lead their partners in pursuing her identity in Christ, prior to finding comfort in her. I personally know of many women who have lost their steadfastness in Christ as they swooned at the affections of men who approached the relationship without leaning in on God; many women have strived to make the relationship work by their own strength.
When it comes to taking the initiative in pursuing a serious relationship, spiritual leadership means ceding control to the sovereignty of God. Sometimes, men easily rely on their own understanding and take control of the situation such that when they finally ask her out, there’s very little actual risk of rejection or embarrassment. Instead, the man ought to take that bold first step; and yes, that could be risky and scary; it may mean putting your blossoming friendship on the line, or risking the possibility of unnecessary gossip or pressure (especially within the church context). However, as you draw near to the Father’s heart, I believe that He will guide you in His path. Even if it does not go as planned, take heart that not every rejection is a failure. Sometimes, in closing this chapter of your life, God is then able to bring in someone who would love and appreciate you for all that God has shaped you to be.
Leadership could also be assumed when the friendship falls into the “grey area” (read: when everyone around seems to think that the both of you are together: everybody, except yourself). I was once caught in the whirlwind of “maybe’s” and “maybe not’s” with a guy; despite my initiating in talking about where our “friendship” was headed, his lack of spiritual leadership only caused me to persist waddling in the deep pool of unwarranted doubt and fear of the future. It took an entire year of being “just friends,” before he finally put his foot down and said that it would be best that we remained friends as we were both not ready to be in a relationship. More than feeling awkward or sad, I felt a palpable sense of relief — I no longer had to guess his intentions and motives, guessing whether I was getting it right or wrong. It is much better to make your intentions clear right at the start, than get muddled in the state of “what if’s”. What more, women do respect men who take the initiative.
A Side Note To The Women
In relation to men making the first move, I believe that women have a part to play too. Both men and women experience the fluttering in our hearts when we have the slightest hint that the person we’ve been eyeing could be interested in us. Hence, before we, women, go around telling every man to “man up and initiate,” let us realise that it isn’t all that easy to take the lead in a relationship.
Should a man confess his feelings for you, but you have no intentions of being “more than friends,” let us respect him for his courage, instead of criticising his character flaws in our minds. Let us also exhibit meekness in taking the time to consider, pray, and seek wise, godly counsel, especially when we might not be seeing things clearly. Giving or receiving rejection is no easy feat, but if we were to extend a negative reply, let us do so with honour and graciousness, treating him as a brother-in-Christ.
Men, I speak courage and obedience into your hearts; courage to trust in the sovereignty of our God who cares so much about your love life, and obedience to walk where the Spirit leads. May you find fruitfulness in your friendships, and discover the splendid joy of receiving a “yes” from the woman of your dreams. May your heart be made whole in Christ, and may you find security in your identity as a son of God. I may not fully understand the war that rages on in your heart, but I am certain that many women are waiting for you to simply initiate.
‘Wait a minute. Are you saying that all the risk is mine?’
Yes I am.
‘Doesn’t that mean that she can just tell me no and leave me twisting in the wind?’
Yes it does. Welcome to leadership. Welcome to trusting God. Welcome to being a man.
-Michael Lawrence in ‘Real Men Risk Rejection’