Let’s start with a quote from the introduction to Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”:
I have never gotten a complaint from a male listener in twenty-five years on the radio over my assertion that men are very simple creatures. They agree. I have explained time and again on my radio program that men are borne of women and spend the rest of their lives yearning for a woman’s acceptance and approval. Unless you’ve got a man with a frank mental or personality disorder (the exception, not the rule), men admittedly are putty in the hands of a woman they love. Give him direct communication, respect, appreciation, food, and good lovin’, and he’ll do just about anything you wish — foolish or not.
Out of all the men in the world, I am probably the one whose life experiences most incline him to appreciate receiving approval, attention and affection from a woman. I was stuck in daycare after 6 weeks with a relative, never had any sisters, and my mother was entirely focused on her career and making money. She remained distant or even antagonistic to everyone in our home until the day she retired from work. The shouting and abusive language stopped almost overnight, but by then it was too late for any of us kids. So I never had the affection, approval and attention from my mother that most people just take for granted.
I always felt that the Holy Grail of my childhood was to get affection from one of these apparently unattainable women. It did not help that I was colored, growing up in neighborhoods that were mostly white – that just seemed to me to make the women even more unattainable. And in my case, it could never be just any woman who would give me these things – it had to be one who had listened to my plan to serve God and who was giving me these things because of what I was doing as a Christian. And unfortunately, there are precious few Christian women who have come along to give me what any man needs from a woman just because of who I am in Christ – forgiven, and dedicated to serving him effectively with apologetics and charity.
Those women that do come along sometimes find that my desire for approval, affection and attention can be overwhelming at times. On the surface, I function great as a Christian. Work gets done, money gets saved, chastity and chivalry, million page views per year on the blog, and lots of donations to Christian scholars and apologetics events. But that’s because everything emotional is turned off inside – it has to be, in order for me to function like this. But when a woman comes along who values what I have done, and what I am doing, that’s when the vulnerability comes out. I am going to look to her for attention, affection and approval.
This New Year, my friends Blake and Dina decided that I was going to not just go to church almost every week like I am already, but that I was also going to do daily prayer, Bible reading, Psalm reading, meditation on the meaning of what I read, and praise hymns. They know I don’t like taking time away from work or apologetics or blogging for any of those things, but they think I need to come back to the things I used to do, in order to be more balanced. And since they are my friends, I really cannot say no to them, because we all have the same Boss.
Dina has asked me to read a chapter out of Paul Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies” every day, and here is today’s very relevant devotion:
If you have been freed from needing success and acclaim to feel good about yourself, you know grace has visited you.
It is an intensely human endeavor. It is the quest we all pursue. We all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to think that we are okay. It is a fearful and anxious quest from which only grace can free you. Here’s what happens to us all—we seek horizontally for the personal rest that we are to find vertically, and it never works. Looking to others for your inner sense of well-being is pointless. First, you will never be good enough, consistently enough, to get the regular praise of others that you are seeking. You’re going to mess up. You’re bound to disappoint. You will have a bad day. You’ll lose your way. At some point, you’ll say or do things that you shouldn’t. Add to this the fact that the people around you aren’t typically interested in taking on the burden of being your personal messiah. They don’t want to live with the responsibility of having your identity in their hands. Looking to people for your inner self-worth never works. The peace that success gives is unreliable as well. Since you are less than perfect, whatever success you are able to achieve will soon be followed by failure of some kind. Then there is the fact that the buzz of success is short-lived. It isn’t long before you’re searching for the next success to keep you going. That’s why the reality that Jesus has become your righteousness is so precious. His grace has forever freed us from needing to prove our righteousness and our worth. So we remind ourselves every day not to search horizontally for what we’ve already been given vertically. “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (Isa. 32:3.7). That righteousness is found in Christ alone.
For further study and encouragement: 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
What I got out of this devotion is that I should try to remember what my primary source of attention, affection and approval should be, and then it would be easier to treat a Christian woman’s affection, attention and approval as extra – sort of like dessert after the main course.