Thursday, August 23, 2012

You can be too humble

In my rambling across the blogsphere I came across Haley's Halo. She falls in line with a lot of generally conservative blogs except that she blogs more about things from a "Game" perspective. (Short, possibly inaccurate version - Game is a theory/practice whereby men are able to project/accrue status in a way that attracts and retains a higher class of mate(s) and avoids "nice guy syndrome.") Anyway, it's not something I see a whole lot of women writing about, so I was curious. Well, she's come across some real gems - one of which being this post on the trend of men (particularly Christian men) acting absolutely amazing that their wives manage to put up with their sorry backsides. It's rather silly how much they go on about how they don't deserve these women and how they'd be a complete mess without them ad infinitum. It sounds all humble and servant-y and sacrificial when in reality it's just a bunch of guys running themselves down in front of the women are supposed to be respecting, following, and looking up to them. To which the guys might respond "Well, she knows all the bad stuff anyway." Sure she does, and the expectation is that she'll continue to deal with the junk and find a way to respect and love you through that just as you're expected to deal with her junk while still loving and honoring her. If you're running yourself down all the time it sets up two scenarios. First, you're just looking for her to come right back and tell you how wonderful and caring and inspiring you are and how actually she's the one who doesn't deserve just a crazy awesome spouse. Secondly, you really do think she's displaying extraordinary perseverance in the face of your glaring faults. If the first is true you're resorting to jr high levels of interpersonal manipulation and neediness, and if the second is true you're giving her the idea that your bad stuff is special and she does deserve special credit for putting up with you and that if she was with another man she wouldn't have to put up with all this junk because, as you've said all along, she really deserves a man who will treat her better and not put her through the rigors of his imperfectly sanctified humor. The first thing is annoying, but the second thing is toxic because there's a good chance that if you tell a woman this long enough she'll come to believe you. Oops! Now instead of being ingratiatingly humble you're being berated or sighed at for stuff that just happens in marriage - like not being able to read her mind and spontaneously bringing home pizza for dinner one night when she spent all day making lasagna. I know what I'm talking about guys - if you tell your wife often enough how bad you are at something she'll start to believe you. Instead, give her reasons to respect you. Talk about something you accomplished at work. Explain why some politician/theologian/mechanic is completely up a tree on some issue and what they should be doing differently. Look for chances to flex your integrity muscles and help your wife grow in character and righteousness. Fill up her respect tank so that when you do come home feeling utterly defeated and disparaged your wife can dish it right back out to you. (And by which I don't mean that wifely respect should be conditional - it's just that it's easier to respect a man when has respect for himself.)

Along those lines I'd like to share one of the most honest love songs on the air today.


  1. Natalie,

    I saw your comment on Haley's Halo and I want to respond to your post there as well as your blog post here.

    First off, let me say that I think a lot of Christians, both male and female, are terrified of actually philosophically pondering the decisions that they make. I think a lot of this fear comes from the idea that God doesn't like it when we doubt or have fear or struggle with regret because we chose to take a certain path in the midst of others being available. The resulting fear, doubt and struggle leads people to use humility as a crutch. Well, I've done bad things and I've angered God, so I'll flagellate myself with humility to show others that I'm aware of the bad things I've done.

    Now I'm not saying that humility is not a good thing. I think it's a great thing, but when it's used to the point of overkill, then it becomes a burden in itself.

    I don't talk about whatever mistakes I've made or whatever regrets I have because most of the decisions of I have made and will continue to make are philosophically pondered. I see philosophical pondering as a way of leading into prayer about something because isn't prayer of a means of asking for direction? Well I have a brain and an imagination and I plan to use them as much as I can because I don't live to impress other Christians. Or myself for that matter. Community is wonderful, I enjoy it and being a part of it, but I'm ultimately responsible for myself. Philosophical pondering scares the community and other people because when you ponder things deeply you reach a point in which difficult truths are not difficult to accept and while hope and happiness are wonderful things, I've found in my own life that understanding and accepting the difficult truths sometimes bring the person into the arms of depression or despair.

    But again, I'm not out to impress anyone or myself which leads me to my second point.

    In your brief summation of how you got married and decided against graduate school, what was your motivating factor?

    Was it fear? Because I think if you had truly philosophically pondered all of the paths available to you then you would have chosen the graduate school path because I think that it was a desire that you had or you wouldn't have cried so much about it. I also think that fear played a role, fear of the prospect of losing out on a good Christian husband.

    With all of that being said, I never defend my choices to others because the choices I make have been pondered, philosophically, and have been prayed about and theologically considered, so the decisions I make are mine, I own them, I own whatever outcome because I invested in the research.

    And this brings it all back to humility. Humble people never have to remind anyone that they are humble. We just know because selflessness creates transparency. We don't see humble people because they give enough of themselves away so that their true individuality expresses itself fully.

    So what do you do with all of this? It's always easier to chase after illusions. They look good for a reason. For me, I'd rather suffer with the truth than be happy with an illusion. And if more Christian men stopped trying to live up to an illusion and suffered in the truth...well...that's for another blog post.

  2. Your story about me is missing a few points that I didn't feel were pertinent to my comment on Haley's Halo - to wit that I did in fact attend grad school briefly soon after getting married. My reasons for leaving weren't terribly well considered. I was sick and couldn't continue. My goal in commenting was to affirm that many times women do make plans that they are truly willing to walk away from in order to marry the right man. That willingness doesn't always translate into sacrifice, but if the choice comes down to her job in Atlanta and his job in Cleveland both parties to need to know how they're going to choose and why.

    1. My thanks for your response.

      I still have to stand by my belief that it is going to be harder and harder for young Christians to find the love and happiness that their parents expect them to find, especially in the current American culture in which there are so many images associated with so many choices.

      One of the reasons I like Haley's blog is because she addresses a lot of the issues seem to confuse and trouble younger Christians who don't who or what they should be.

    2. I wasn't aware I'd said anything to challenge your belief? I do agree that a do it all have it all culture is damaging - especially to young people. On the other hand, for all my parent's foibles, they did teach me that choices lead to other choices and are, to a greater or lesser extent, limiting. When I chose to be a homemaker first and a scholar second I realized that I was in fact shaping my life around these facts differently than if I'd chosen to pursue the scholarly life first and foremost.