Q+A: what does it mean to be inviting?
In this new series entitled “Love Stories”, I have invited you to ask questions. The idea was to make sure that we were addressing what concerns you, rather than going off into the la-la land of nebulous theory and cute concepts that no one really understands.
And I have loved reading your questions!
Every single email has been well thought through and sincere— obviously written by people who honestly want wisdom for living and dating well.
I have also noticed in the last few weeks of looking that there is a plethora of blogs about dating and relationships. Some really good ones and some not so great.
Two of the best are written by women I know: Ally Spotts writes with wit and unique insight, teaming up with her dad who is a Christian counselor to make sure she gets it right. And Joy Eggerrichs blogs on www.loveandrespectnow.com.
Her insights are often hilarious and always down-to-earth and Biblically grounded.
Yet what we want to do here is somewhat different.
I am an “older woman”, a role I relish. In answering your questions I will give the perspective of one who has lived and loved and made mistakes. I am not a professional... I am a wife of 33 years, a listener, a friend, and a mother of two godly men and two lovely women.
And though the Bible is strangely silent when it comes to direct statements regarding dating/courting/friendships-that-are-more and all the complexities between men and women, there are treasures to be gleaned there.
I am going to attempt to be practical. Yet at the same time, I want to paint a picture for you of what God’s purpose in all of this is.
Please be nice to me when some of my answers go against what you’ve heard for years and years… this blog is intended for those who are unapologetically centering every inch of their lives around the Lord Jesus Christ— or are at least trying to!
So here goes…
Q: What does it mean to be inviting?
A: This question refers to a statement I made at Loveology (if you haven’t already, these teachings by John Mark and Mike Eyrie are worth listening to) in answer to the age-old question which every decent girl struggles with:
How do I get a guy’s attention without resorting to flirtation or initiating?
This is a dance I have been watching for a long time.
Women are told not to “chase men”. We’re told that men should be the leaders and initiators of the dating relationship.
And I wholeheartedly agree!
If a woman wants to marry a man who will take up the God-given role of spiritual leadership in the home, she’d be wise to let him lead from the get-go. A man who mildly allows the woman to initiate and perpetuate the relationship is going to be a passive husband— and I’ve yet to hear of a woman who really wants that!
But does that mean that a girl has to sit quietly with her hands folded in her lap and demurely look down?
I hate to say it, but that’s kind of what I taught my own two daughters. By “don’t chase boys” I communicated to them that they needed to be passive. Problem is, that’s terrifying to the guys!
I’ve listened in on their conversations, girls— when five or six of these guys crowd into my son’s room to eat Dorittos and play computer games and talk, they’re anything but quiet. Yet these go-for-broke young men are cower at the thought of approaching a withdrawn, unwelcoming woman. They need a little help!
In reality, there is a way for women to invite men into the possibility of relationship. And most good men wait for that invitation. They’re looking for some sort of clue that their initiative just might be welcome. That they have a chance. That you’d like to give them a chance.
So that’s the concept: The guys initiate, while the girls invite... and both have to be happening at about the same time to get this dance started.
Now for the practical: How does a woman invite?
Well, I’ve started a list and it’s getting ridiculously long— much too long for a single post. So for today let me just give you…
Invitation #1: Communicate admiration for him.
Movies, sitcoms, comics, even children’s books (read The Bernstein Bears!) treat men as if they are big, stupid, klutzy idiots. Can you imagine how hard it is for boys being raised in our current emotional environment?
Yet God wired men to lead with confidence and He wired women to come alongside and help with competence. (more on the whole man/woman roles for a later post)
It is a woman’s God-given directive to come alongside and encourage a man. To make him believe he can do it. To admire him when he does. And to tell him loud and clear!
Learn to encourage, admire, and communicate respect to a man, and you will be an inviting woman.
For many young women, this is excruciatingly difficult. Think of the risk!
If you haven’t grown up in a home where encouragement is dished up at every meal, you’re going to have a tough time choking out the words.
Just be honest. And be bold enough give that kind of grace no matter what his response.
Before Phil and I started dating I was so in awe of him that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to string two sentences together in conversation. So I did what every shy girl does... I avoided him! But one day I just couldn’t hold back. I had to tell him how much I admired his rock solid faithfulness.
There is a whole back story here, but long story short, my uncharacteristic boldness got him to thinking about me. What I meant as a simple word of encouragement, he interpreted as an invitation. Of course he could probably feel the vibrations of my pitter pattering heart during the entire 60-second conversation! Yet somehow those shyly offered words of affirmation got the ball rolling.
Now, there’s more to it of course. Where’s the balance, how much is too much? You don’t want to scare the guy off by embarressing him… but you’ll need to ask your friends for that kind of feedback. There is no perfectly reproducible pattern to follow. Just as each and every woman is uniquely created by God to be beautiful and appealing, her approach to welcoming a man is going to look unique.
The point is this: one of the best ways to be inviting is to encourage and affirm and admire him.
And in case you’re concerned that I’m just giving you tactics for catching a guy, consider this: The number one piece of wisdom I offer to married women who want to have a great marriage is the same…
Encourage… Affirm… Admire.
From my heart,
So… you want chapter and verse? Here’s one every man wishes his wife would put into practice…
33… and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].
To which all our brothers say: AMEN!