I received an email today that I feared would come. As I live my life as a bachelor, wondering when and if God will bring me a wife, I often think about the women I encounter who most certainly are asking the same question. Throughout my life I seem to attract occasional attention from women who are hopeful that I might ask them out, or who seem to hope that there might be a chance for a relationship with me. I'm reminded of a passage in Elisabeth Elliot's book, A Path Through Loneliness where a woman writes that God somehow had created a hedge of protection around her. She didn't necessarily like it, but it resulted in God protecting her from any romantic entanglements because, as she put it, all the men she was interested in didn't seem to know she existed, while the ones who were interested in her weren't her type. I feel the same way about most of my life and most of the women who have expressed interest in me. They're just not my type.
I saw a woman at our opera production this weekend who I used to know at one of the colleges I taught at for awhile. It was clear then that she was interested in me, and I think the fact that I made a point to say hello to her and catch up with her this past weekend caused her to think about the possibility again. I just received an email, hopeful that we could get together sometime, that she felt it was unfortunate that we hadn't had enough time to chat, etc.
I'm not going to do that because I don't want to send her the wrong signal. But I know she feels the pain of loneliness just as acutely as I ever have, probably more. It's not my job or anyone's job to salve that pain however. In fact, to get together with her because I know her pain would actually be a disservice. The answer for her, and for me, and for anyone, is to turn to Christ. That's why I think Elliot's book is so, so brilliant. If you know anyone who is single, divorced, widowed are is just struggling with what God wants to do in his or her life during this time of loneliness, have them read this book. It's amazing and powerful.
I also have decided I don't like it when women initiate things with me. That's my job, not theirs. Elisabeth Elliot writes about this too--if a woman initiates anything with me, that's a surefire sign that I'm not biting, ever. My job is to be the pursuer and the initiator and I don't want any woman to usurp that role from me. I think most men feel this way, or at least men who know what their God-ordained role as a man needs to be. Elisabeth Elliot speaks of this in her books on relationships, The Mark of a Man, Passion and Purity, and the latest book I read of hers, Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity. Incidentally, I hate the cover the latest edition of The Mark of a Man. It's hogwash, since the model they used is a GQesque model, perpetuating the mythic status of what the world thinks a man should be. Notice below the new cover compared to the original. Elisabeth Elliot wrote the book to her nephew, who is pictured with her on the front cover of the old book. Nothing spectacular about either of them--they are real people. Notice the chiseled features of the guy in the new edition. The very cover of the book is in direct conflict with all that Elisabeth Elliot writes in her book. I fall short of that sort of worldy ideal, and so I ripped the cover off of the book, (in admittedly Dan M. fashion). I'd prefer to be like Elisabeth Elliot's nephew Peter than this GQ guy, though I of course sure wish I was more handsome. But that's the lie of the world, isn't it? Shame on Revell for succumbing to worldy marketing in selling their book. They should have a picture of dowdy C.S. Lewis on the cover instead of this yahoo, who probably needs what's written on the inside of the book as much as anyone. Genes don't make a man a man.