Journey Through Wanderings

You may remember my friend John P. from a previous Guest Post in December 2010, entitled “The Myth of the One”.  John shared some profound insights related to the myth that God has a perfect plan and a perfect match out there somewhere for all singles.  One of my favorite statements of his was this:

God does not have a perfect match for us (other than Himself). Have you seen the church? God does not even have a perfect match for Himself!

That entire post is worth another read, even for John who is now married to Kathy, a wonderful Christian lady.

Now John and Kathy need our prayers.  He’s recently been diagnosed with B cell lymphoma and has begun chemo. In addition to prayers, I’d also encourage you to follow John’s blog, WANDERINGS, which chronicles his journey through cancer treatment.  You can find him at  http://johnpyrc.wordpress.com/

John wrote in my guest blog, “We don’t need a perfect plan, or a perfect match. We need to be imperfect, earthen vessels of divine grace to one another as we work out our Salvation. His part of that walk is perfect: ours … not so much.” 

I’m trusting God for John’s healing, praying for this earthen vessel of divine grace and for God’s perfect leading through WanderingsI hope you’ll pray, too.

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Test-Driving Relationships: A Guy’s Perspective

I offered and some brave soul took me up on it…a guest blog opportunity for a man to reply to the question of “test-driving your relationships”. 

John has been in Single’s Ministry for nearly 2 decades.  He wishes you to know he is an Alpha male who truly loves Jesus but doesn’t always get it right.  He also wishes you to know he isn’t a writer and not always as delicate at speaking his mind as some would like.  But I trust his heart and in 8 years of friendship I’ve never doubted His passion for serving singles nor His crazy, full-on devotion to Christ.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you John…

Caution: Danger ahead. Do not proceed if you don’t honestly want to understand how men think.  This road isn’t for the faint of heart.  Fasten your seatbelts and hold on tight.

I waited to write a guest blog to see if anyone else would.  I’m a coward like most other men and didn’t want to be the one to have to explore this but the elephant remains in the middle of the road and we are all trying to drive around it.  So here goes.
 
First, let’s name the elephant.  It’s the question everyone is thinking but no one dares ask out loud in print.  Why do men Test-Drive women in the first place?
 
There, that wasn’t so bad.  Was it?  Now we can get to my second point which is the premise on which everything else I say will be based.
 
The question rephrased really comes down to why are single men constantly on the look out for the most beautiful woman we can find?  There are a number of reasons.  Notice I said reasons, not excuses because I am not excusing our behavior.  Before I drive into them, here’s the premise I promised.
 
Men are visual.
 

Does that shock you?  If that makes you angry, blame God.  He created men to be visual.  Sure women like a good-looking man.  But how many times have you seen an average looking guy with a stunning woman compared to the other way around?  Maybe the later happens once in a while.  If she’s a cougar with a boatload of money.  But the average Jack & Jill don’t work that way.  So here’s another way of explaining this.  Men buy magazines to look at cars and women.  Women buy magazines, from Teen to Glamour to look at, you guessed it, other women.  So they can painstakingly model the other women.  So men will notice them.  Because men are VISUAL CREATURES. 
 
Are we clear on the premise?  Good.  Now about test-driving.  Here’s your top 5 reasons men do that.
 
1.  Men have vivid imaginations.  We don’t simply notice physical beauty.  We like to try it on in our minds.  We try to be respectful of the woman we are with.  My head has never turned when I’m with my gal and a pretty woman walks by but I’ve had to close my eyes a time or two cos my eyes were rolling to the back of my head to follow her.  In a moment of temporary insanity, I pictured myself with the hot babe who just passed by.  Why?  Because it is an ego boost.  For a legit guy in a loving relationship, we will return to our sanity and realize there is no more beautiful woman in God’s universe than the one we are enjoying coffee with or sharing life with.  But still in the back of our mind we wonder, ‘what if?’  As a Christian, this is one reason I beg my brothers not to look at porn.  Air brushed, pouty lipped women sans clothing have a way of hanging around in our memory rolodex.  A beautiful godly woman can’t and shouldn’t ever have to compare.  We dishonor women when we expect them to live up to fantasy standards, with or without porn involved.  Men have to be deliberate about guarding our eyes.  In those moments when the hot babe passes in front of our eyes, we have to take our thoughts captive.  Fast.  Hopefully before our eyes roll to the back of our head.
 
2.  Men want to impress our friends.  We may not go into public bathrooms with our buds.  Or spend hours on the phone with one another.  But we care what our friends think.  Every guy at some point likes to imagine all his friends want his girl.  Think, “Jessie’s Girl”.  Only with cleaner lyrics.  “Where can I find a woman like that?  Like Jessie’s Girl?”  Pathetic, yes.  But it makes us feel more masculine if other men notice and admire the woman we are with.  It’s an affirmation.  Approval.  Admiration.  Call it what you will but we need it.  If we are not looking to Christ for our affirmation, we leave room for a meaningless substitute.  I’ve found the more time I spend in the Word and the more I get who God says I am, the more I am affirmed by the one who matters, and the less pre-occupied I am with what my friends think.
 
3.  Men want to bear children with attractive women.  Somehow we equate pretty and thin with healthy.  Healthy wife, healthy offspring, healthy family.  Long live the King!  The unfortunate side of that is we often make fools of ourselves dating women much younger, still of child-bearing age even when we no longer want children, rather than seek commonalities with a godly woman our own age who is beautiful in her own way.  The good side of that is, we seek a life long partner healthy enough to grow old with.  Eventually, Lord willing, the adolescent driver grows up.  He leaves the revolving door auto dealership.  He commits to one vehicle.  If he’s wise he will realize the more he invests in TLC & diligent maintenance, the greater his enjoyment of the ride even through the hills and valleys. 
 
4.  Men understand the science of gravity.  We know that over time a woman who is a physical 9 will inevitably become an 8.2 even if she works at it.  Because nature will invariably take its course.  So we hold out for a 10, hoping to end up with a 9.3 after nature does its damage.  While I’m on this point, we fear that once we are married a woman who looked to us like a 10 on our wedding day will stop working at her appearance after the honeymoon.  Come on guys.  Can I get an AMEN?  Do you women honestly expect us not to notice when you stop wearing make-up, throw your hair up into a pony-tail, pack on the pounds cos you cancel your gym membership but wear sweats around the house day in, day out?  I realize this is not exactly spiritual, just honest.  But hang on.  The spiritual application is coming.  When a Christian man marries, he is committing for life.  He willingly forsakes all others and faithfully commits his desires to one woman for the rest of his life.  He hopes his beautiful bride will continue her efforts to be beautiful in part to help protect him from worldly temptations that are everywhere.  I’m not blaming women whose men cheat.  Just asking women to consider what it does to a VISUAL CREATURE when other women go to great lengths to look their best, even flaunt their goods while the woman he loves is indifferent to her appearance.  And oblivious to her effect on him.  REAL Christian men don’t expect Super Models greeting them at the door.  Just someone who makes an effort to look good for us.
 
5.  Men lack confidence.  A big reason we test-drive is to build up confidence.  I realize that sounds like a contradiction of the ego point I made earlier.  But follow my logic.  Men have a big enough ego we want to be with a gorgeous woman.  But because we are generally the ones asking out the woman we take the brunt of rejection.  We may test-drive an average looking model just to build up courage to take out a better looking one.  Once accomplished, we feel empowered to continue to trade up.  And up.  And up.  And so it goes.  The bottom line is, every man fancies himself with a 10.  Even if he has to start with a 6 & work his way up.  But if looks are all we base our relationships on, the 10 will soon start to look like a 9 to us.  And then an 8.  And so it goes.  We will never be satisfied.  This is why Michael Lawrence’s questions are so important. ( Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend ) God has a completely different and a much healthier approach to choosing a mate than the old worn out scale of 1 to 10.  By basing our relationships in Biblical principles we see women first as sisters in Jesus worthy of our respect.  We hang out more in groups. We have fun with all kinds of women.  Then we have multiple chances to build confidence with women in ways that don’t defraud or mislead them.  Best of all, we discover the real 10, that godly, fruitful, spiritually beautiful woman Michael refers to in his article.
 
So there you have it.  The raw truth about why men test-drive a relationship until they are sure no one ‘better’ is right around the corner.  I’m sure there are other reasons, lame as they are.  I’m not proud of these things.  But I’m not alone in this.  Which brings me to my final thought.  If any man tells you that these 5 points don’t apply to him, he is lying.  This is universal.  For those of you in Rio Linda, as Rush would say, that means it applies to ALL men at some point in our life.  If not all throughout our life.  Some do a better job of taming the ‘what if’ notions.  But we all come face to face with it sooner or later.  Wise is the woman who takes this to heart and realizes that test-driving has nothing to do with her real, God-instilled beauty.  Di has already covered that.  If you missed it go back and read her Captivating blogs.
 
I’m done.  You may commence hating me now. Or hopefully not.  Hopefully, you will pray for me.  And for my mixed up brothers who want to walk in the Spirit but as long as we live in the flesh we are prone to stupid fleshly behaviors.  Including test-drives.  But maybe, just maybe as all you spiritually beautiful, fruitful, godly women out there pray for us we will be less concerned about taking another spin around the block and more willing to drive off into the sunset with the one.

Test-Driving Your Relationship

Inquiring singles want to know… “How do I know if my sweetheart is the one?“

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that question, I could pay off half the Obama spending spree…okay maybe not.  Still, I can honestly say as a mentor to young women, co-director for a single’s women’s ministry and friend to many eligible ladies, this is the one question I’ve been asked more than any other.  Even many of my guy friends ask…as if some secret formula exists, a 12 step program for decoding the mystery of the one.  For heaven’s sake I’ve been single most of my adult life!  Why are you asking me?

Not far behind the question of the one, is its first cousin inquiry, “How long should I date someone before we should know?”  The obvious…and glib…answer is: “it depends on the couple”.  I have good friends who have dated for years and still they are not married.  Too, I am friends with couples who within months of meeting one another tied the knot.   In my family I have a relative who’s been seeing the same man for 13 years.  Another family member boasts he knew when he first met his lovely bride that she was the one and he was shopping for a ring after 4 months.  It’s complicated, right?

Maybe not as complicated as we make it out to be.  Recently I came across an article addressing questions 1 & 2, and much more.  “Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend” by Michael Lawrence is a call to accountability for single men but it almost as easily could have addressed single women…with a slight change in the title, of course…something like “Stop Testing Driving Your Relationship”. 

The writer suggests the Bible “does provide principles that point us in the direction of making a decision to marry or break up in the shortest appropriate time.”  Offering a comical, yet relevant comparison of long-term dating to an extended test drive, he makes some salient points about how easy it is to take advantage of your partner in a dating relationship.

In his article Michael Lawrence dispels a familiar myth about searching for the one.  He also offers insights on the difference between “settling” and commitment. 

How many times as singles have we approached our relationships with a consumer mentality and in so doing, we ask the wrong questions?  {Perhaps we even blame God when we don’t hear Him answer our questions???}  Probably the most helpful piece of the article is a list of 5 questions at the conclusion.

Rather than risk taking the writer out of context by trying to regale you with quotes, may I strongly urge you to read the entire article for yourself?  {click on link below}

 “Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend” gives practical, powerful and most importantly Biblical suggestions to help clarify your current relationship or to keep in mind for a future one.

One personal note:  some of you will read this and may feel I am picking on you specifically.  If you really know me, please trust my heart when I say, I’m not.  I care too much to purposely try to embarrass others or heap guilt on anyone.  This is shared to bring healing to relationships so we may honor Christ in them.

I recently sent a link for this article to a dear friend who has struggled for quite some time with the question of the one.  His response was one of sincere gratitude, thanking me twice in a single paragraph for having the courage to share it.  I was so touched by his heart to find a Biblical approach to answering his question and to act in a Christ-like manner to honor his long-term relationship, I felt compelled to share this with others.  If it fits your current situation, I pray you’ll benefit from it, too.  If it rings true of something regrettable in your past, I pray you’ll learn from it and give yourself grace going forward. 

Finally, I don’t do this often but in fairness to guys, I am willing to open up my blog for a “guest” post from my male friends.  I you have a counterpoint on this matter that you believe would be helpful to women, please let me hear from you.  I also welcome your comments.

For the full article, please click:  Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend