“I just can’t seem to pick my battles. It seems like I get upset about something every single week. I need to get my life together and handle things better. I’m so emotional.”
Knee deep in one of my final papers, I got that text. I closed my eyes and my heart went running 277 miles away to the girl who’s wondering if she’s the only one.
I’ve been there. It’s the life of many women.
A lot of the men in our lives, try as they might, they cannot seem to always understand where we’re coming from.
Thinking back to when they first met, it didn’t take long for me to see that they were a good match. They fit, it makes sense, their relationship is wonderful in so many ways. He’s a good man. But it isn’t perfect and it isn’t always easy.
It’s the age old story of a girl who has some wounds and scars because she’s been down this road before. Once again, she’s given most of her heart, but if you look down deep, she’s holding back just a little. Because if he turns out to be like the rest, she can at least pride herself on not having lost it all.
That’s where the emotion and the fighting of battles comes in.
It’s the protection. It’s the need to defend ourselves. It’s the need to make sure that the person next to us has the right grip on our hearts. Don’t let it fall. Please, don’t let it fall.
Every battle we pick, even the smallest ones, are the ones where we’re taking our hands and trying to force others to tighten or loosen their grip on our hearts. We’re trying to tell them how to love us; and when they don’t hold it just right, we either fight or run.
It’s the plot of almost every movie sitting on my shelf. It’s the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan specialty.
I’ve built my expectations precisely through the years. I have drawn the perfect blueprint. With the help of Hallmark movies and Nicholas Sparks novels, I’ve figured out what this whole thing should look like. So, if you follow these directions, if you put the exact pieces where I expect, and say the right thing at the right moment, you’ll heal where the others have hurt.
But men are not God.
If there’s one thing I’d like to tattoo on the arms of girls everywhere it’s that truth. They will not heal you. They are not your redemption.
It took God shaking me hard and staring me down for me to get this. People cannot be each other’s redemption.
Men are not God, they will disappoint you. They will say the wrong thing. They will forget the thing you told them to bring. They will make a bad joke. They will be late. They won’t send flowers every week. Men are not God, they will not read your mind or hear the cry of your heart.
Men are not God, they will not make right all the things that have gone wrong.
But we think they will. Somewhere in the heart of most women is this deep rooted belief that finding “the one” is going to make it all okay. We will deny it, we will say that we know better and that we’ve learned to be content on our own. We will flaunt our independence and tell God that we know He’s enough.
Then we crumble when someone disappoints us, or when we find “the one” and it doesn’t entirely fulfill us. Then we run to ice cream and Ryan Gosling. We cry and ask “why is it never my turn?” or “why don’t things ever work out for me?” or “why am I not happy?”
Even when we have good men in our lives, we secretly ask, “why can’t he be a little better?”
Even the best of men cannot make us content.
We pick our battles all based on the little expectations we’ve built up since we were little girls. And the little disappointments become the big ones because we were taught to believe that men worth waiting for wear always wear suits, always say the right things, show up at your door at 2 am, and write you secret love notes for 365 days.
So when the goofy, tired, messy-haired men in our lives don’t call or would rather watch football than talk about their feelings, we come unglued.
That doesn’t make you crazy. It doesn’t make you irrational.
It makes you one of the billions of people who was lied to about what love really looks like.
And so his laundry becomes a battle.
His light-hearted, but poorly considered joke becomes a battle.
Football games become a battle.
Him forgetting your Mom’s birthday becomes a battle.
His hair in the sink becomes a battle.
His night out with the guys becomes a battle.
His humanity becomes the battle. Because you’re longing for God and he can never be that for you.
I waited a few minutes before I responded to her; more or less this is what I said,
He’s going to mess up and hurt your feelings, but know when it isn’t purposeful. That’s how you pick the battles. When you love someone, and he’s a good-hearted man, you can easily forgive his actions when you’ve learned to trust his intentions.
They say a good man is hard to find, maybe so, but the fictional ones are impossible. Tom Hanks, Richard Gere and Ryan Gosling are not who they portray on a screen. They are scripted and their wives would live disappointed (and may actually live that way) if they expected them to be the leading men we throw our affections towards.
We throw our affection at fictional men because they portray the qualities of a non-fictional God; someone that will go to impossible lengths, impossible depths, to show you the love that you were always born to know.
I think it’s time that we choose to look at people’s hearts and not at their ability to meet our lists of demands.