My child, listen to what I say…tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what is right… and you will find the right way to go.
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy…
Proverbs 2:1-11 NLT
My dear girls,
Once upon a time… I thought loving a man was simple.
I was so sure of myself— certain I knew what to do, how to be. I’d read the fairy tales; admired Rapunzel’s allure, seen the Beauty love the Beast back to himself, watched in wonder as Snow White came fully alive.
I could do this too. I could love a man and keep on loving him for a lifetime. Our love would be so full and so generous and so beautiful as to wrap us up in romance forever and ever.
And I was wrong. I fumbled from the get-go. A month into our marriage I knew my methods weren’t working the way I’d thought they would. My formulas were falling apart and I didn’t know what to do... so I just did the best I could. And it wasn’t enough.
Now, thirty-five years of loving later… I know why my loving fell short.
And it wasn’t because of lack of effort— I tried hard. I read books and watched people and did all the things I thought I ought to do.
Plain and simple, my loving fell short because of it was mostly about me. About me being loving and loveable and alluring. About me loving him so fiercely that he couldn’t help but return my love with passion and loyalty forever.
And when Phil failed to respond to all my ferocious loving the way I’d been so sure he would…
I got mean.
I got defeated.
I got mad.
I got hurt.
A lot of I messing up the romance I'd imagined.
Here is the amazing beauty of our Redeemer in the midst of our messiness…
He let’s us fail.
He let me fail. And in that failure, He began to teach me the first lessons of brokenness, of what it means to find my hope and delight and joy in my real Prince Charming.
In those days of defeated loving, I stumbled upon a jewel of a book. It’s still one of my treasured favorites, written by a man who knew what he was talking about- Roy Hession. In The Calvary Road, he wrote:
The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory— that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all.
In other words, it is dying to self and self-attitudes.
As this stubborn, perfectionist, idealist, determined woman began to yield and break and die, something strange occurred in my soul.
A desire began to grow; a pulsing, driving desire to love my husband for the sake of my Savior. Not for me and what I expected to receive in return— but just for the One who was so tenderly drawing me close to Himself.
Rather than renew my self-efforts of trying so hard to love the way I thought I should, He began to teach me how to love my husband His way.
And that led me to understand why my loving had not produced the response I’d expected.
In one word: ignorance.
I didn’t have a clue how to love a man— my man— the way God had designed him to be loved. All that work and I was missing it!
And I think I’m not alone in my ignorance. I think most women are missing it— not by a mile, but by just a few millimeters of mis-done loving. We’re loving in the ways we know how and wondering why it’s not enough. Why our men don’t act and feel lavishly loved by us.
And then, as women are prone to do, we think there must be something wrong with him.
And all this defeat over not quite getting it right, and wondering why and what’s wrong with him and with me and with us, led me to that age-old invitation imbedded in the book of James:
If any of you is deficient in wisdom,
let him ask of the giving God (who gives) to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding,
and it will be given to him.
James 1v5 Amplified Bible
Deficient in wisdom.
Ignorant and knowing it.
Falling far short of the kind of love I’d always imagined would wrap my man’s heart up tight.
And so I went searching. I asked this giving-God for wisdom. I asked Him how to love my man for His sake.
And do you know, my dear girls, He just started pouring it on! Words and phrases, verses and stories, snatches of insight here and there that are opening my eyes to see the way to loving a man well. To loving my man well.
But the best discovery of all has been the simplicity of God’s way. Not as in easy to do— but as in easy to know.
Going back over and over to the Scriptures, asking Him for wisdom, searching for the treasures there, I’d hoped to find a whole long list of ways to love a man well.
I found only four. Four ways the Creator of men specifically directs women to love their husbands. Not 101— just four. Yet within those four ways He designed our men to be loved, are hundreds and thousands of possibilities.
And so, over the next several weeks- all summer, probably— that’s what we’ll be talking about here on Mondays. And for just a hint of what’s ahead… here are the four:
Sexuality and friendliness and help and respect…
Be his lover, be his friend, be his partner, be his admirer.
I can hardly wait to get this conversation started...because, after all these years, I’m finally understanding how my husband needs to be loved by me. And guess what? He’s eating it up! As in responding like… well, like a well-loved man.
From my heart,
Okay girls, whether you're married or still waiting for the right one and the right time, now is the time to learn how to love a man God's way. Can you tell us what you know? Or who you've seen do this well? I'm hoping for some guest posts from women who've become experts in the art of loving wisely.