I did something a little wild and crazy a few months ago. I went and got myself a boy friend. By boy friend I mean a man that's a friend. A friendly man. A friend who has a penis that has nothing to do with me. And I like him a whole lot. He's pretty awesome in all the ways I define awesome. And we've been writing lots and talking lots and it's lots good. Now, you may think, Oh. Nice. Angela has a new friend. And it is nice, but it's also been a really big deal around here, because this man is married. So, me and my new friend, and his wife, and my friends, and his friends have been doing a lot of talking about what it means for men and women to care for each other, what that might look like in real and tangible ways, and what all this friendliness means. There's been a lot of good talk, and a lot of honest sharing, and learning, and there's also been a lot of, "that's crazy" and "not a good idea" and "it can only go bad on you" and "just end it now". A whole lot of people think it's only asking for trouble when men and women become good friends. I respect that. I understand it. I appreciate the honesty in those concerns.
But here's the thing, and I don't mean to make this sound like some lame-ass sob story, so forgive me if it does, but, I've been sitting outside in the early morning, drinking my coffee, praying some, writing some, but mostly just looking at the green, green trees and thinking, and what I've concluded is that I need men.
I know. Hold on to your hats. There's more.
I think we all need men we're not sexing it up with.
And, you know, vice versa.
I grew up going to a church that told me my identity is in Christ - that I'm valuable because God made me and loves me. That's a good thing. And I also went to summer camps that stuffed me full of bible verses and songs that told me that I'm valuable because God made me and loves me. Also good. So I know that my idea of self is supposed to be based in God, and it is, but I also think it's a load of baloney to pretend that I should be able to go through life completely defined by God and impervious to all the opinions of all the Joe and Josephine Blows I meet. In fact, I think we need other people to push and bump up against us to be able to actually know who we are. But here's where it gets tricky for me: I have lots of amazing women in my life who love me and take care of me and bring God to me. They speak to the part of me that is defined through my relationships with women. But the part of me that understands itself through my relationships with men is less than stellar. And I can't help but wonder if maybe part of the reason why it was so difficult to get over the failure of my marriage was because I put all my faith in one man and thought it was enough to let him represent all men. He kinda dropped the ball on that one, and now, years later, there are still some pretty deep wounds just sitting in my soul, not sure what to do with themselves. Good men help.
What I'm trying to say is that I can't heal very well in the ways I've been wounded if I'm not allowed to love the other half of the population in a real and godly way. I don't need a husband to do that, but I do need men. One of the things Friend's Wife said when they talked about this friendship of ours was, "There are things women need to hear that only men can say to them, and things that men need to hear that only women can say to them." When I heard that I almost cried right then and there because it felt so true and because I was so grateful that this woman cared enough about me, a stranger, to help me hear those things through her husband.
There are a whole hell of a lot of divisive things going on that keep men and women from being able to love each other. There's a whole lot of fear because there's a whole lot of risk; there's a lot at stake if someone messes up. But there is also a lot at stake if fear dictates action. And you know, I'm not alone in wanting more than fear. The truth is that I have felt reduced to a sexual possibility by men and reduced to a dangerous risk by women for long enough. As I begin to age and my breasts and legs begin to head downhill along with that sexual possibility, I can't help but feel a little panicky. There's got to be more to male-female relationships than fucking. Or the possibility of fucking. Or the temptation to fuck. There's got to be some piece of redemption from all of this brokenness that can only be realized in mended relationships, otherwise, all we're left with is fear, and that's a whole lot of bad news for us good news people.