Home   >>   Reflections   >>   Reaping What We Sow

Reaping What We Sow

Why we should be careful what we ask for in life.
Feb. 5, 2011
”Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”
(Jim Horning)
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
(Thomas Merton)

It wasn’t my intention for the reflections at this site to be a running commentary on the drama of dating, especially my dating. But life is what happens to us while we are making other plans and words come when and where they are given. So my post-divorce dating lessons continue…

Last weekend a dear woman friend sat me down on the floor of her townhome for a heart-to-heart talk… Dating 101 she called it. “Scott, you’re too nice,” she said. “You’re just too nice! You don’t need to have your heart on your sleeve all the time.” I don’t need to return a woman’s phone calls right away or to put so much into caring for her when she feels bad, she explained. Things are more interesting when there’s a bit of a dance… a little “excitement.” As I listened she said, "Oh, now you have puppy dog eyes.” Her words echoed those of most other women I’ve known. It is the rare woman who will tell you that she likes players and jerks, but most say that chemistry thrives where there is a little mystery and perhaps even a bit of danger. As one woman I dated put it, “There’s a sweet spot where I like to be ridden… when a man leans too far back in the saddle I don’t feel romanced, but when he leans too far forward in the saddle he gets kind of predictable…”

Needless to say, my guy friends couldn’t agree more. The key to a woman’s heart, they say, is at least to some extent to keep her guessing. Be kind, be a gentleman… but never, ever let her be too sure of you. True, some of these guys are stereotypical players, but most aren’t and they don’t recommend that I become one. Their point is that an attractive man is wild, not domestic, and above all else one who presents a challenge. He may hold the door for her, tell her how nice she looks, kiss her like he means it, and laugh at her jokes. But there is a vast emotional and spiritual landscape inside of him that she knows she will never see. And though it may wound as much as it fascinates, in the secret corners of her heart she knows that he isn’t going to sign a lease when he can go month-to-month.

To a point, there is some wisdom in all this. It is possible to be nice not only to the point of being annoying, but also dangerous. There is a “kindness” in some men that is borne of emptiness rather than strength. Their desire to please the women in their lives… at any cost… comes not from true selflessness, but a lack of self-awareness. They don’t really know who they are apart from the approval of women. It was Mommy they needed most as boys, and as “men” it is her face they now seek in the women who capture their hearts—women who through no fault of their own have become sirens whose seductive music promises to take them back to Mommy’s breast. Without a manly identity of their own, women have become their only emotional life preservers. And sooner or later, they end up resenting them for it.

In Til We Have Faces C.S. Lewis retells the myth of Cupid and Psyche through the eyes of Psyche’s half-sister Orual who had a lifelong obsession with her that was more about her own need for control than Psyche’s identity. In the end, Orual comes to realize that like her “love” for Psyche, her heart and soul had been less hers than she had imagined. In her words,

When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

(Lewis, 1956 – My italics)

If a man is ever to meet a woman face to face he must first have a face of his own. As long as he hides behind the faces that are given to him—by his mother, the media, the women he sleeps with, or anyone else—his words will remain as empty as his soul.

Throughout history sacred ceremonies have marked the transition from boyhood to manhood in many cultures. Ceremonies marked by trials, rites of passage, and wisdom passed down for generations by communities of men with or without the approval of any woman. In many Native American cultures for instance, there comes a time in every boy’s life when he must go on a vision quest. He sets out into the wilderness to explore, pray, fast, seek the gods and wrestle with demons, inside and out. There, God speaks to him from the whirlwind and he replies with the speech that laid at the center of his own soul for years. He lays claim to a face of his own and takes a new name—one which marks his passage and reminds him of his identity, his vision, his code. When he returns, he is no longer a boy. He has become a man. The Apostle Paul wrote,


Page:      1    2    3    4    5       Next >>
Christianity & the Environment
Climate Change
Global Warming Skeptics
The Web of Life
Managing Our Impact
Caring for our Communities
The Far-Right
Ted Williams Archive