Meet Jane. Jane is your average single Christian gal. Jane has all the education and career opportunities a person could ask for, has lots of friends, loves her church and for the most part thoroughly enjoys this season in her life. Except for one thing. She’s ready — been ready — to meet a guy. Not just any guy, but the guy.
The problem is that she doesn’t get asked out on very many dates, and when she does, the guy either turns out to be a disappointment, or worse, turns out to be someone she’d like to get to know better, but the feeling isn’t mutual.
Jane thinks, Where are all the good guys? Is there something wrong with me? She wonders whether Christian guys are much different from non-Christian guys, who seem to be interested only in looks and popularity, searching for a Jesus-loving supermodel, the Jesus part being optional.
Not so, say the “good” guys. If they had a chance to sit down with Jane, here’s what they’d say.
Drop the mask. My friend Barry told me that one of the things that initially drew him to his wife was when he noticed her disarming way of laughing at herself. “It wasn’t the self-condescending I’m so ignorant kind of thing,” he recently told me. “It was total security in who she was, not being afraid to let her imperfections show and be vulnerable. That takes guts, and it was very attractive to me because it showed me how secure she was as a person.”
This cuts both ways, of course, but the “good” guys are hoping to find a girl who’s authentic — the real deal — who’s not hiding behind what she thinks people want to see. If she talks a good Christian line, but seems concerned more with how people “perceive” her rather than being comfortable with who she is, that’s a turn-off. Guys see that as an attempt to compensate for what she lacks. A woman who is secure in who she is — honest about her weaknesses and humble about her strengths — is a woman who is hard to resist.
Put “looks” in its place. A friend once told me that he finally worked up the nerve to ask out on a date a gorgeous girl on his campus. Her physical beauty was striking and her style was exquisite, but her shallowness became quickly evident as they spent time together. Although she professed to be a Christian, her priorities didn’t add up. “The conversation couldn’t seem to get past her obsession with clothes, hair, shoes, sunglasses and cell phones,” he told me. To appropriately care is good. To obsess is not pretty.
A guy wants a girl who cares how she looks, of course. Concern about one’s appearance is a sign of social maturity. But an unbalanced concern, in either direction, is unattractive. Few women take the extreme view of “who gives a rip” and just present themselves without any care for how they look, although I’ve seen it, and it sends the message that “I don’t care enough about anyone’s opinion to do anything about it” — not the message to send to potential suitors.
The other extreme is more common: a constant preoccupation with looks (yours and others). Notice what single guys are not saying. They’re not saying not to think about or not care about your looks. How you present yourself is a reflection of a healthy self-image, and that’s good. Being stylish is not a bad thing in and of itself, but for one’s joy to be determined by the acquisition of the latest trend, style or look is not attractive.
Be a warrior. I remember the first time I realized how beautiful my now-wife Alfie is. We were working at a summer youth camp together as staff counselors, and we were barely acquaintances. There were plenty of young, single Christian girls working on staff, and Alfie was one of the quieter ones, so it was easy to miss her if you weren’t looking. But you couldn’t miss her character. I was blown away by her warrior’s heart. Her endless willingness to work hard under less-than-optimal conditions, her gentleness and patience with kids who tried every nerve, her dedication to praying for them, and her graceful way of handling difficult situations were qualities that were impossible to ignore. To be honest, it was after I noticed all of those “grace” qualities that her physical beauty became so obvious to me.
You’re wondering, But I thought the guy was supposed to be the warrior. You’re right, he is supposed to be a warrior, and so are you. There are many battles to fight, and it isn’t just men who are called to fight them. Your concern and compassion for the world around you, and your taking action to shine God’s light into whatever part of the world He has placed you, speaks volumes about the kind of lover and parent you would be.
Develop an authentic, adventuresome and risky faith, one willing to follow God wherever He leads. Don’t mistake femininity for passive, inactive faith. Are you willing to get in the trenches and get a little dirt on your face for Christ? Nothing is more beautiful. Marriage and parenthood require a warrior’s tenacity. When a girl is willing to love the unlovely and give without thought of receiving anything in return, guys take notice.
Less criticism, more support. OK. This is going to sound like the guys are making excuses, but hear us out. Everything — I mean everything — in this world is trying to keep us from maturing into manhood. The culture is holding nothing back in an attempt to keep us passive boys, and many of us are fighting it tooth-and-nail with every weapon we can get our hands on. We’re frustrated about the fact that at times our fears — of relationships, of the future, of, yes, women — paralyze us. A single guy is his upper 20s recently wrote me about a girl he’s interested in and lamented, “The only problem is that since I developed feelings for her, I am terrified to talk to her. Whenever I see her, it’s like I freeze up. My heart starts racing, my palms get all sweaty, I get butterflies in my stomach, and I have a hard time saying anything to her.” Sounds like he’s in love, and she hasn’t a clue. But at least he wrote us seeking advice. He wants to change.
Most young men have had little in the way of authentic Christian masculinity modeled for them, so they’re blazing new territory. They’re not there yet, but they’re working on it, and they are often as disappointed in their progress as you are. Just remember, even though there’s a lot more of what he doesn’t know than what he does know, he’s learning, so don’t give up on him yet. Your support means everything to him. Ask how you can pray for him; speak words of encouragement; if you notice his efforts toward maturity and manhood, let him know. It’ll do wonders for him.
Remember the good guy. When I told a single friend I was going to write this column, the fire hose opened full blast. “It’s frustrating that no one speaks on the behalf of the good guy. Girls don’t seem to even acknowledge his existence.” Another young man wrote, “The girls say they want a good guy, but they always seem to choose the bad boy. The good guys are here, but nobody seems to care.”
Single Christian guys the world over, when they hear a Christian girl wonder where all the good guys are, scream a collective “right here!” Although it might seem, from Jane’s perspective, that these guys are nowhere to be found, they want you to know they are all around you, and they are looking for you. They would tell you that not every guy is a jerk, not every guy is passive, and not every guy is interested only in skin-deep beauty.
The good guy can be like the great restaurant that only locals know about. The tourists miss it because they fall for the “traps” of the neon sign and convenient location of the franchise, not realizing that the best is tucked away just a few blocks over. The good guy is more a discovery, finding him can take more effort because you have to work your way past all the flash of the franchise guy. He could be working in the cubicle next to you or sitting just a few rows over in class or playing guitar in your church small group. Take the time to get to know him. The one who might be easy to overlook could turn out to be the best kept secret.
Hang in there, Jane. The good guys are out there, and they’re looking for you, hoping that when they find you they’ve found someone who is pursuing an authentic, adventuresome faith, who supports more than she criticizes, and whose priorities are rightly balanced. Concentrate on that picture, and guys — the kind you want — will find it hard to look away.
Copyright 2006 John Thomas. All rights reserved.