The Same But Different
As I mentioned in the first post of this series, men and women have more in common than not. We are all people with feelings, thoughts, ideas, desires, hopes, and questions. But, we are different.
It was so since the beginning.
Sometimes it can feel like we are on opposite sides of a divide––either failing to communicate or part of some tense, unspoken power struggle. Yet there is something very special about healthy male-female relationships (and I’m not just talking about romance).
Men and women sometimes get caught up in tearing each other down, in trying to prove our superiority. But God didn’t create us differently so we would compete with each other. He created us differently so we would make powerful allies.
The Enemy would love to see us destroy each other, when what we should really be doing is destroying him.
God created men and women “like opposite each other” (a more literal translation of the word “suitable” found in Genesis 2:18).* Not so that we would misunderstand and resent each other, not so that we would separate and go our own ways, but so we would need each other. Need can be a scary word, but I think it’s one we were meant to embrace. Human beings need God and they need each other.
Men need women, and women need men. It’s simply how He made us.
At times, the words God spoke to Eve after the Fall have haunted me. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. That, to me, sounds pretty much like hell. Wanting something, longing for something, and finding that something dominating you. After the Fall, things got pretty messed up. Relationship with God was broken. Relationship with each other was broken.
But while this world is indeed full of brokenness (you only have to glance at the headlines these days to see it), redemption is possible. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I continue to hope for it in all things, including in the relationships between men and women.
It’s easy to choose fear. It’s easy to react to unpleasant situations by trying to overpower others. But what this world needs is people who choose to counter the bad with good.
This world needs more women who honor men and more men who honor women.
Women, we should want men to thrive. The world needs strong men who know how to stand up for what’s right, who pursue their passions, who are protectors and defenders of the weak. And we should be the ones continually reminding men how important they are.
In her message Fighting Like a Girl, Lisa Bevere says something that has really stuck with me: Women are guardians of the heart.
People typically tend to think of men as protectors, and I agree. I believe they were given testosterone, denser bones, and stronger tendons for a reason. Not to bully, but to protect and defend those weaker than they. I think we as women need to get better at acknowledging our vulnerabilities and letting guys step up and do what they were designed to do: protect us. These days women can get offended if a guy so much holds a door open for them––but that’s just silliness and pride, in my humble opinion. If a guy is honoring you and treating you well, be thankful and appreciative! Enjoy it! And express your appreciation!
But, men aren’t the only protectors. Women were created to be protectors too––protectors of the heart.
Women tend to be more in touch with their emotions and the emotions of others. They are better at empathizing, connecting, and reading others’ facial expressions. These are powerful abilities. Abilities that, like men’s physical strength, can be used to abuse or build up. Being good at intimacy means we are given deeper access to people. That means great opportunity and great responsibility.
Women, we were made to guard the hearts of those around us! We were create to build up, not tear down! So instead of pridefully pushing men away, telling them we don’t need them, let’s let them protect us and in turn, protect them.
Sometimes I’ve felt misunderstood or unappreciated by guys. They don’t understand my emotions. They mistake my processing time for a lack of opinion. They say insensitive things that cut me deeply.
But the thing not to do is give up.
I admit that at times I have been tempted to hole myself in a cave somewhere up in the mountains and become a self-sufficient hermit who doesn’t have to deal with the messiness of relationships with people in general––because let’s admit it, girls can be even more complicated and stressful friends than guys––but at the end of the day, I always realize I am better off with people. Together is better.
Choosing to love others, even amidst the brokenness and messiness is so powerful. I really can’t emphasize it enough.
Sometimes guys don’t like to show their need, so you might not realize it, but ladies, the guys around you need you. They might not realize it either. But they need you––not to spoil them or enable their bad habits or enlarge their heads with flattery, but simply to speak life over them. To believe in them. To trust them a little. And to teach them some of the things you’re good at that they’re not so good at.
Let’s be generous. Let’s be loving. Because in the process, we’re going to discover we have some amazing allies beside us.
What do you find most challenging about male-female friendship? What do you find most beautiful? How can you protect those around you better?
*My source for this technical Bible information is a chapter of Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage written by his eloquent wife Kathy Keller.
***This is the third installment of the 3-part series Young and Female. If you missed parts 1 and 2, you can find them here: Young and Female: Being Told I Can’t and Being Young and Female: The Lies I used to Believe***