To my brothers, Today, I want to share my heart for you. For who you are as men of God, for who you are to me, for who you are to each other. And hopefully, to encourage you some.
Many of you probably know that I have a huge heart for community. One of my greatest delights is in seeing the body of Christ come together in fellowship, worship, and study. Aside from our Savior and writing, building a beautiful, vibrant, healthy community is probably the thing for which I have the greatest passion.
I've personally seen the negative effects of bad community or no community, and I've also seen the positive effects of lives lived in solid community. And you, my dear brothers, are a huge part of what makes that community and the body of Christ so beautiful.
Some of you might not know that I wrote my senior seminar paper on Biblical masculinity. It was thirty-two pages long and it took an entire semester to write. I read countless books and articles and Scripture passages on what God desires masculinity to look like.
I studied it for weeks and months on end until I reached a point where I sometimes felt like I knew more about what Biblical masculinity was supposed to look like than some of the men I interacted with. And it's probably quite likely that I've studied masculinity more than some of you have, but that doesn't mean I know more about it than you do. After all, I'm not a man.
Perhaps one of the greatest things that came out of my senior seminar paper was an overwhelming amount of respect for all of you.
Being a man is hard enough, but being a man of God is even harder. It's not a job I would ever ask for and part of me is extremely glad that I am a woman because it means I don't have to do the job He's given you to do as a man of God.
I know that the current cultural climate is difficult for you.
There's the whole "war on men" going on in the secular realm and in the Church you're often being told that you're at fault for the decline of marriage because of emerging adulthood, laziness or immaturity, and everyone's yelling and telling you to "man up" or "grow a pair" and just go do something.
I admit, I have been guilty of this before.
I have bemoaned your seeming lack of initiation to my girlfriends. I have felt like I know more about how to be a man than you do. I have spouted idiotic and demeaning cliches like "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" when one of you has hurt myself or a friend. I have declared you all idiots because of the actions of one.
And I am sorry. I am so very sorry.
I am sorry for being so insensitive to the difficulty that comes with being a man of God. I am sorry for assuming that I know better than you do how to live up to the standards set forth for you in Scripture. I am sorry for intentionally or unintentionally disrespecting you with my words and actions, even if you never heard or saw them. I am sorry for lumping you all together into one category because I've been hurt by one of you.
And so today, I want to encourage you and I want to tell you that despite the messages you hear from myself or from other women or from the culture or from the Church that I see your effort and I appreciate and respect it so very much.
You are doing a good job. You might not feel like it. You might not think it. Others might not think it. But the point is you're trying, and that's what matters.
When I was younger, I had a somewhat idiotic notion that I was going to marry someone who had the spiritual maturity of my father...30 years my senior. I passed all of you off as dumb and immature and not worth my time because you weren't like him. And what I failed to see was that you are just as much a work in progress as I am and by the grace of our good God, every one of you has the potential to be the man of God that my father has become after more than 50 years of life.
I have been blessed to interact with countless amazing men of God in my lifetime. Some of them are men like my father and my grandfather and some of them are you, my brothers that I count among my peers and whom I am honored to call my friends.
I am grateful for your friendship. I am grateful for your encouragement. I am grateful for your opinions and thoughts and ideas. I am grateful for your humor and your wit. I am grateful for your height and handy-man abilities when I need things hung higher than I can reach. I am grateful for your trucks and ability to be easily persuaded by baked goods. I am grateful for your physical strength, your spiritual strength, and your emotional strength.
I am grateful for the fact that even though it's hard, even though it sometimes seems like everyone is against you and like everyone is telling you that you're failing and you're doing it wrong, that you still strive to glorify our amazing God and be the best man of God you can be.
Don't give up. Don't stop fighting. There will be times you will fail epically. There will also be times when you succeed in incredible ways. There will be times when you don't understand how Christ could still love you. There will also be times where the love and glory of Christ shines so brightly in your life that you'll hardly believe it. All of those times are beautiful, in their own way, and God has the ability to use all of those experiences, good and bad, for His glory. Thank you for being a part of my life and for blessing me in so many ways. Thank you for answering the difficult call to be a man of God.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and don't ever give up. I promise that I see you, your other sisters see you, your elders see you, and we are grateful and proud and hopeful because of the work of Christ in you.