Friday, January 29, 2010

Finding the Right Woman When Your &%$! Stinks

A few years ago, a friend of mine and I were talking about how to recognize the right woman when or if she came along. It was one of those late evenings when we were sufficiently weary to be brutally honest and honestly, we were at a loss. Then I remembered a piece of advice I'd heard from a fellow minister-graduate student, "Beg, you need to find a woman who loves you when your &%$! stinks." Simple, unarguable, and to the point.

But is that all there is to it? Being loved despite your blemishes? Predictably, I don't think so and I've turned to women I admire for help. I haven't asked for comments as much as I've observed the ways they cope under stress, how they act around men they care for, and listened to them speak candidly. I've particularly noted how they've treated me and how that felt. This is what I think I've discovered.

For men, the experience of
&%$! stinking is related to feeling exposed and vulnerable, though most of the time we're not remotely aware of it. At times like these, loving means taking us seriously, especially if you're the only one who does. When you listen to and reflect on what we have to say while all others have "changed channels," that's really quite something. It tells us we genuinely matter to you.

When you're courageous enough to stand with us, knowing our self-esteem is on the line, and you place yours alongside it, that's absolutely incredible. Not all women can do this, sadly, nor all men. It takes a very special person to take a risk with another when the outcome is uncertain. It requires confidence and a solid, secure sense of self. It tells us we're more important to you than what others may think of you.

Being believed in is huge. We may not always seem like the most insightful of beasts, but generally guys can tell when faith is insincere. If the encouragement we receive is superficial or doesn't cost anything to give, we may not say anything, but we know it. On the other hand, I have a very good friend who used to remind me of her certainty I'd get into medical school. The tone of her voice had the effect of erasing any possibility of doubt. Your faith tells us we won't disappoint you.

If we were having that same late night conversation now, I'd say the right woman is one who believes in and respects you. She has confidence in herself and doesn't need to sacrifice you to reinforce it. She is stable under fire, and possesses depth and integrity. None of this is about age, by the way, because some of the women who've been my role models are much younger than me. I hate to use the word maturity, though it does apply. More appropriate is the word, character. If she's has that, well, what else does she need?

(Note to the reader: tomorrow's post will address the "right man")

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