Watching the newest Star Wars movie this afternoon, I was struck by the depth of the on-screen relationship between two characters. Between this woman and man, there was a sense of understanding one another, a sense of profound and mutual respect, and love that shouldered the weight of both. Even though the movie touched on various themes, what I walked away with was hope, and a vision of the type of romance I want to have, if I have any at all.
As a woman, I sometimes feel like I have to choose between these three things when I relate to someone. I can either have someone’s respect, someone’s understanding, or someone’s love; based on stereotypes and 1000 cardboard images of who I should be, none of which relate to who I am as a child of God.
I want my husband to respect me, because I can look out for both of us. God has helped me, and he has strengthened my ability to plan far into the future. If my future husband is able to respect me and my ability to think in advance, I can work on behalf of others, myself, and him. Instead of villifying my mind and despising the gifts God gave me, the man I marry is going to have to love the gifts God put in me like he was loving part of himself. I don’t know what kind of crazy person decided somewhere that men like to be respected more than women when it comes to showing affection, or that respecting a woman means that she will become vain. Part of me thinks that most women don’t desire respect because they have already given up on it long ago. If I am working this hard to guard my heart and surrender my life to Christ, yoking myself to a man who isn’t going to respect me and my callings would be a mistake.
We are all just people, and I don’t expect that my husband would be a mind reader, or should have to compensate for things I’m not telling him. But when you want someone to stay by your side, you hope that over time, learning to love one another would add to someone’s ability to understand you, and not subtract from it. If I am able to understand someone, it typically means they have transparent enough habits to be trustworthy. You can read a pattern, unlike when a person is lying. Understanding isn’t about perfect communication or effortless brainwashing. Understanding means the ability to grow outside of yourself and the ability to hold someone’s trust.
Comparatively, love seems a lot emptier without respect or understanding. It seems like having a human bed warmer. Respect adds so much value to love. It sweetens it.
I trust that God knows what he’s doing, and I am so happy just as I am. I’m glad he confronts me with these riddles and moments of reflection, because they are valuable. Jesus has made my joy full, and I have so much time to potentially keep unraveling the things God is doing. I’m happy that I can be a witness as I watch him move.