Yesterday Sheila Wray Gregoire was wondering who will take up the torch to fight for what is right. At the same time, Mrs. Anna T asked her readers if women want to be treated badly, because many seem to not want "nice" men. I agree that it is unhealthy to want or to continue a relationship with someone who has a "destructive" personality. When choosing a mate, it is important both to seek someone with a loving heart and to acknowledge that it is highly improbable that you will make someone change -- so choose carefully and choose practically. However, I believe the two problems Sheila and Anna bring up are related. On the one hand, we cry out for strong leaders, and on the other we ask for our men to be "nice." I think in many cases, the root of the often detrimental desire for men who aren't nice is born from a twisting of a deep and good longing for real men, men with backbone and untamed hearts. Men who, like the great lion Aslan, are dangerous.
"Then he isn't safe?" asked Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."
It is not easy to forget that men are not like us, right ladies? It is easy to forget that they aren't supposed to be like us. Sometimes we have to quell our instincts and fears and let our men be men. We have to let them take risks and spend time doing things we don't necessarily understand. In my favorite version of the King Arthur legend (the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead), the boy Arthur is riding with his guardian and entourage and remarks on a huge, majestic mountain they are passing by. When he learns that no one has ever climbed the mountain, he immediately decides that he must try. Ectorius, who raised him from a babe, is obviously quite hesitant to allow Arthur and his lame cousin to try such a dangerous feat alone. Merlin, the wise bard and adviser, talks him into letting the boys try.
"No," replied Merlin, "it is foolishness itself to let them go."
Merlin smiled, lifting a hand to the mountain. "Because if we prevent them now, they would never again risk the impossible with a whole and open heart."
"Is that so important?"
"For ordinary men, no." Merlin shook his head, watching the boys ride away. "But, Ector, we are not about making ordinary men."
"...This is a needless hazard." Ectorius showed his contempt for such an idea.
"...Better to have lived while alive, yes? Besides, if they achieve this they will have conquered a giant; they will be invincible!"
"If they do not?"
"Then they will learn something about the limitations of men."
"A costly lesson, it seems to me," muttered Ectorius.
"Then it will be valued all the more. Come, be of good cheer, my friend," coaxed Merlin. "If God and his angels stand ready to uphold them, can we do less?"
Another book that helped me understand this concept is Wild at Heart, by Jon Eldredge. I highly recommend that every wife (or lady who would like to become a wife) take the time to read this. Even better, read it with your husband. As my husband put it, this book helped him realize that "Christian men don't have to be Ned Flanders." (And there's my Simpsons reference for the day).