Thank you for all your helpful male insight! I really enjoy reading your columns, and now have a few questions of my own.
I am currently in a fairly new relationship, and am for the most part enjoying it for what it is. I'm not stressed about whether or not he's going to propose and hoping to be planning a wedding by next year, but I am anxious about the immediate future.
I've been hurt in a previous relationship and find that I have a general distrust toward men. My problem is that I often analyze every little thing and eventually drive myself crazy with worry and anxiety over his motives, if the relationship is godly enough, if he saw me in bad lighting, if I looked too fat today, and that he'll suddenly change his mind about being with me.
How do I guard my heart and let him in at the same time? How do I trust another man with my heart? How do I do it without scaring him off? I would really like to know a male perspective on this and any other comments you have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!
I appreciate your candor about your insecurities and assure you that as others have read your questions, many breathed a collective sigh of relief that they aren't the only ones who wrestle with those thoughts and feelings and anxieties about what others think of them (like a certain writer* I know who often worries about what people will think about the answers he gives to their questions).
We could talk about your past experiences and how they influence your framework for relationships now, but I just don't think that's really the problem for most of us. I am more convinced than ever that our insecurities have less to do with our past experiences with people and much more to do with our current view of God.
Here's what I mean. You say that your hurt from a previous relationship caused you to have a general distrust towards men. I'm sure there is truth to that, but here's what I think is really going on: that it's not men you generally distrust, but God.
What many of us do, even those of us who are serious Christians, is give to other humans the level of trust that can only be reserved for God, and give God the level of trust that would be about appropriate for humans. We flip-flop our trusts, and when we do that, we are setting ourselves up for a big-time disappointment.
Humans cannot deliver like God can, and it is an offense to God to be trusted like a mere human. God will never, never, never let us down. Never. He chastens; He disciplines; He often allows our selfish choices to have their natural consequences — all for the purpose of leading us back to Him.
But He will never drop the ball on our behalf.
If I'm right, and our problem is misplaced trust, then what is needed is not more therapy to help us overcome our general distrust of men, at least in your case, but more heartfelt repentance for elevating our boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses (and bosses and professors and etc., etc.) above our God. I've written a little about repentance in an article titled "How can I forgive myself for past sexual sins?"
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that people can't be trusted. To function in human relationships you must have some reasonable level of trust of other people. Of course common sense tells us some people can be trusted more than others, but trusting at some level is essential.
What I am saying is that if we really don't trust God with our lives, if we aren't entirely convinced that He knows what He is doing and sovereign over our steps (as we make every effort to seek His guidance), then insecurity will be a close companion, especially if we transfer that level of trust over to another human. The reason that trusting a human at that level causes us insecurity is because we know deep down they can't deliver. We innately know this because we're human too, and we know our own limitations.
I care about what my wife thinks of me. I certainly want her to think I'm attractive, intelligent, godly, fun, and basically the world's greatest husband and father. But I simply cannot be more concerned about what she thinks than about what God thinks, not even close. This isn't just a misplaced priority. If I am more concerned about what another human thinks of me than I am about what God thinks, it is idolatry, pure and simple.
Those are strong words, and I would never sit here and say you or anyone is committing idolatry; only you know the level of trust you put in humans versus the level of trust you put in God. My columns tend to be more confessions than corrections, I suppose. But let me very, very gently suggest that you take this before the Lord and ask, "Jesus, have I trusted men more than I've trusted You? Have I cared more about their opinion of me than Yours?" If you get the sense that the answer is "yes," then it's time to grieve, repent, get free from those insecurities, get your "trusts" in their proper place, and enjoy your relationships again, both with God and men.
Copyright 2007 John Thomas. All rights reserved.