Years ago, my father began running understanding yourself courses as a solution to managing the increasing engagement of people contacting him remotely. He decided it was easier to get them together to talk through the issues that were causing relationships to breakdown. The courses became hugely successful, running for many years. Many people had their lives turned around by discovering who they were and why they did the things they did. They were given the tools to begin to make choices to behave in ways that gave value to themselves and the people they interacted with. It was taking simple biblical truths and applying them in the context of family and church life.
Today I am finding myself having conversations, particularly with women, who are saying similar things about their husbands, and/ or their brothers in church. My deep concern is that they have an inbuilt, God-given expectation that the men in their lives are capable of hearing them, understanding them, connecting with them, and even hearing God for them. They want this in an ever- deepening way, they want to be on a journey where both parties discover who they were intended to be and to the depths that God intended. It is important to recognise that God made ladies this way, they need these connections to survive and thrive. They don’t want perfection or to be fixed.
God knew what he was doing when he created men and women differently. He designed marriage to give us a glimpse of His love for us. Just as the Trinity works in perfect harmony by each party putting the needs of the other first, so a marriage has the chance to reflect God’s heart as two people learn to serve each other. Outside of marriage, in church, we can see the same principles of serving others at work.
We as men, must be prepared to go to the difficult areas of life, because the alternative is that we leave our ladies with a painful dilemma. Do they continue to push us? Leaving them feeling like the enemy, the one who is never happy, always on our case. Or do they choose to say nothing, accept us for where we are at, and become frustrated, understandably bitter, and resentful?
I believe that we are all conscious of the areas in our own relationships where we could do a great deal better. The Lord in his mercy and grace brings these things before us regularly in the way I have written about above, we can end up going round on a loop not just with our wives and sisters but also with the Lord. We become defensive and what is being said to us because we are genuinely loved, and we turn our wives, our sisters, and at times the Lord into the enemy because we refuse to accept that we have an unfathomable capacity to love and to understand, if only we got ourselves, and the things we hold onto, out of the way. Just stop for a moment and think about how you feel when you come up against someone else’s ‘no go area’. We tell ourselves ‘I wouldn’t treat anyone like that', but we do, and unbelievably it is the person we promised our whole life to, whether in marriage or through our commitment to Jesus our sisters in the Lord.
What is the solution? Unfortunately, this is not something to be fixed quickly, rather it is process, a route to be taken. It starts with a recognition of the issues highlighted in this article. We need to accept our responsibilities and the impact our stance will have on those who love us. We must be prepared to take the lead in a journey of discovering the depths of our own hearts, then naturally lead those around us to the same discoveries. The end result will be healing of relationships, strong marriages, secure children and most importantly a group of people who live out what it means to be a follower of Christ.