"You need to be praying for the men in your generation."
Those words pierced straight through me. To be honest, I had never even thought about doing this. Pray for them? Yeah, my cynical heart was really not in the mood to be praying for them.
I mean, weren't they the ones who NEVER asked girls out?
Weren't they the ones who have all these wonderful, godly women right around them and they do nothing about it?!
Basically, guys have no feelings and are the worst.
Yeah, clearly I needed to deal with some unresolved heart issues, receive a dose of humble pie (aka it's not all about me) and reiterate those words so that they sank. in. deep.
"Ladies, you need to gather and pray for the men in your generation."
Marian Jordan Ellis woke me up that day when she came to speak to a group of 50 or so ladies in our crowded church chapel. Most of the women there were single, frustrated and looking to hear how Christ fits into all of this dating mucky mess. A lot of us were blaming men for our dating woes. Many of us were blaming ourselves. And all of us were missing the greater picture: God's glory is paramount. No matter if we have a ring by spring. To quote Matt Chandler, "You tracking?"
So instead of blaming the male gender for our lack of relationship frustrations (though it can be tempting and I've shamefully done it plenty of times post-revelation), I propose we instead take a much more life-giving approach. How about we shoot up a couple (or a zillion) prayers for our brothers in Christ?
...That they receive guidance from older men
Most of my major spiritual growth and maturity has occurred because of the older women who have poured themselves into my life. Let's pray that older men see the value of their life experience and wisdom enough to impart on a younger generation. Discipleship, close community and story telling is what they (and we!) need to move closer to Christ, which really is the ultimate goal.
...That they are shielded from the crap
You know what. Being a guy is hard. Our entire pop culture is over sexualized and there is stimuli EVERYWHERE. They walk two steps out of the Times Square subway station and there are billboards and Victoria's Secret and hundreds of women passing them by - one prettier then the next. That has to be hard. I'm not letting them off the hook for poor behavior. I'm just saying, society doesn't give them the space to think in a way that is respectful towards women. Let's pray that they receive that guidance from older men to help them decipher truth from lie and expectation vs reality - for themselves and for the women they will love in the future.
...That they step into their true identity
Just as we want for ourselves, we want men to step into their true identities. I hope and pray that the men in my life know that their worth isn't rooted in what they make, what they do, what they look like or who they are friends with. Only Christ can bring that ultimate contentment and security. A marriage can't do that. And neither will owning expensive things or going on elaborate trips. In the end, there will always be a discontentment if they don't see themselves first and foremost as sons of the living God. Let's pray that they are anchored in Christ. (Ladies, this applies to you too!)
...That they cultivate friendships laden with vulnerability
Being a guy and being vulnerable is not usually synonymous, at least from the conversations I've had with guy friends. Society's expectations of men is to be strong....and vulnerability is often associated with weakness. But we should pray that they have friendships laden with vulnerability anyways. Because only within that space of vulnerability will any healing happen, will any struggles be brought to the light and will there ultimately be any growth. As we want to grow, we want them to grow. So let's pray they find those friends they can open up to and become leaders alongside.
...That women are kind to them
Women, we need to give them grace. And we need to be patient. Berating guys by saying they are failing at this relationship thing is not going to help them grow any more (Hey, I'm guilty of this!). You know what - mad props to any guy that does pursue a woman. I avoid rejection like the plague, so I have to remember that this is scary for them too. And asking them to "man up", (though it probably should happen from time-to-time) without understanding where they are coming from is just as hurtful. So let's pray that if they do ask out a girl, that the girl be respectful, up front and honest about where she stands. And that if a guy isn't ready to date, well, that we respect that as well m'dears.