This is one of those posts that has been on my heart for some time and yet as I sit down to write it I find myself struggling for the words. As I look at the title I can’t help but think of my own baby brother (and, yes, he will always be my baby brother despite the fact that he now towers over me). He entered the seminary this past Sunday to start his Spirituality Year (SY). I am unspeakably proud of him, to say the very least. I’m inspired by him. During his SY he goes on a media fast meaning no cell phone, no Facebook, no twitter, no computer…nothing. Except on Saturdays. About a year ago I wrote a two-part blog, holding On… …and letting Go. [God’s timing is perfect. On August 15, 2011, I wrote “holding On…” and on August 15, 2012, I wrote “hold on to the Good“. A year ago today I wrote “…letting Go” and today I write about a different kind of letting go.] It is odd to me to look back and see how difficult it was to leave my brother in Tulsa for his first year of college, and yet this letting go feels so much harder, even though he is still in Colorado. Those blogs have been heavy on my heart lately as I struggle to let go of what seems like so much. So it is that I write this blog in honor of my brother, who inspires me more than I ever thought possible.
There is a mentality in our culture today that really drives me nuts. [There are a lot of mentalities that drive me nuts, but I’m just picking on one today.] In my single state there is a mentality among some of my friends that any and every guy that crosses my path should be viewed primarily as a potential boyfriend. God knows that in my seasons of singleness I, too, have been guilty of this mentality. And yet God, in His infinite goodness, has seen fit to show me just how flawed this mentality is.
If you’ve been following this blog for just about any amount of time, you’ll know that I feel called to and long for married life. (In case you don’t believe me, there is a blog called “dear Husband” that you can read, and see for yourself.) Just because I want to be married some day doesn’t mean that any and every guy to cross my path should be viewed as a potential boyfriend. Guys are brothers first.
When we see a guy and our first thoughts are about what a great boyfriend or husband he would or wouldn’t make for us, we do them, and ourselves, a disservice. Seeing guys as a potential boyfriend rather than a brother turns them from people to objects (read: boyfriend). Women complain about being objectified, and yet we are so guilty of this ourselves. We see a guy at church, in line for confession, or at daily Mass and start to daydream about what our relationship with them would be like. What if, instead of picturing some fairy tale romance, we imagine a beautiful friendship with him? And, if God wants it, we allow Him to write the love story?
If we meet a guy and our first thoughts are about his date-ability then we have already stopped viewing him as a complex and interesting person. Furthermore, such a mentality closes us off to seeing them for who they are and getting to know them as a brother in Christ. Instead of valuing him for who he is, this mentality leads us to focus on our imagined checklist of things we are looking for in a mate. The second he doesn’t meet one of these perceived “requirements” for a potential boyfriend/husband, we stop paying attention to who they are and we lose interest. [I put “requirements” in quotes because often what we think we want/need in a mate isn’t necessarily what God has in mind. I know enough to know that He will rock your world with someone who will push you towards holiness, and that push isn’t always going to be all hearts and rainbows.] So, we think, why waste our time talking with someone who isn’t going to date us? Do you see how objectifying this is to men everywhere? It is disgusting.
By objectifying men like this we stop seeing them as people made in His image and likeness, and we miss out on a potentially wonderful and edifying friendship, all because we were too focused on scoring a date. Not only that, but we, as women, are failing to respect men as children of God. Even if, in the course of natural conversation, the thought occurs to us that we probably wouldn’t date this person, that doesn’t mean that we should shut our brain off. The truth is that God sends people to our lives for a reason, even if it is only for a few minutes, and I’m certain that God doesn’t send people to us for us to give them a once over, pass judgment, and then walk away.
They are my brothers first. Seeing them in this way not only honors God, it respects men, and guards our own hearts. When we stop imagining some fairy tale romance that may, in fact, never happen, we open our hearts to an opporutnity for fellowship, and for God to work in our lives and hearts. Brothers first.
Give us the grace to see the men in our lives as brothers first, and so to guard their hearts, and our own. Father, soften our hearts with Your love, teach us to love as You do. AMEN.
Verses to ponder: Hebrews 13:1-3.
What I’m Listening To:
“Dear Heart” by Sanctus Real
“I Knew You That Way” by Luke Bryan
“Pray” by Dierks Bentley
“Sinners Like Me” by Eric Church