Okay, perhaps that image is a bit too strong, unladylike. For those of you are following and reading so far, you know that I am huge into visuals to get the point across. Perhaps the image below is more fitting:
Somewhere in the movement of appreciating and respecting oneself, and building our own esteem, I believe we went a bit too far and started to go the other extreme and became “entitled.”
It’s easy for me to say the obvious, that it starts somewhere back during childhood, but here’s a hard lesson I had to learn when I ran from home (I was living on my own, but still had the heavy influence of my family that was stifling.) Once I became of age, regardless of the abuse I experienced at times, or the abandonment I felt from my dad; regardless of the feelings of being the black sheep, I had to take responsibility for my own actions. That became more real for me once I left home. Society didn’t respond as ‘kindly’ to someone who lied or didn’t pay bills or who didn’t practice a sense of virtue.
So in my quest for ‘freedom’ and discovery, I was actually trying to find my sense of worth. I tried finding it working in strips bars, dressing scantily and drinking – which resulted in waking up other states, staring at the scratched back of the mysterious men lying next to me. I thought I’d go into the entertainment industry, which as naive as I was, I watched other starlets rise to fame compromising their dignity – just to be liked, adored and considered beautiful and worth talking about. I just couldn’t bring myself to doing that though. Many times, as I’d see singers or actresses I knew getting publicity, I’d kick myself for not, at least, shutting my eyes and delving into the cushions of the ‘casting couch.’ Imagine my surprise when I came to Nashville. I discovered that unless someone reputable knew me, it was the same here. (That wasn’t what Martina ever sang about!)
By this time, though, I became a believer in Jesus. Back then, however, I had my own set of ‘nude photos’, (but thankfully BEFORE social media, and who cares now, anyway?), I was tired of dressing like back in the bar days just to be ‘noticed’ (aka : today’s “respect”). And while I took my own set of pictures, that would be considered modest today, I was noticing that it was borderline my trying to be noticed. However, you must go through intentional strains to avoid seeing provocative selfies and any mention of nude celebrities photos.
Self – respect vs. narcissism
Men, you are no different. If you have taken selfies of your body in hopes to gain sexually charged ‘compliments,’ perhaps maybe you also are experiencing a sense of low self-esteem?
This attempt to gain self-respect by ‘self-love,’ feeds into the entitlement mindset. Wouldn’t you agree, the person acts as though others must please he or her and do what they can make the person happy? Would you say that maybe with all the visuals of women and showing their goods, which should be respected enough for the chosen partner to only see, could be one place where that seed of self is fertilized? Do you see how it can be difficult to respect another while we are busy checking off lists of how the other person should be loving us?
I am reminded of a 35 year-old client I had, who I had to turn down, that wanted me to help her find a boyfriend which would result in a marriage. Although she was a wonderful, talented, and sincere woman, she believed that she was difficult to match because of how high her standards of what she was looking for was set. However after more research and asking her questions, the real reason came out.
Client: “I want a musician, or a guy that is artistic. And he has to love the Lord.”
Me: “Ok, I did a bit of searching for you. Are you open a guy that perhaps is artistic but is a businessman or entrepreneur? “
Client: “No! He has to be a musician or someone artistic. He has to be able to get me because I’m creative. And he has to have a thin or athletic frame.”
Me: “Ok, well, where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Client: “Hmm, I’ve never been asked that before. I think that I want to be able to do my paintings. Yes, in 5 years, I want to be married so that I can stay home and do my paintings.”
Me: “Are you doing paintings now?”
Client: “Well no, I work full time graveyard shift hours. But once I’m married, I can stay home, and do it.”
Me: ” You do realize that most musicians are broke, right?”
Client: “Well, I’ll work part-time hours if we need money.”
Me: “Well, how are your finances? Do you have savings to be able to so this?”
Client: “Well I can’t afford to save right now.”
My point in sharing this is that she truly was unaware that in her searching, her standards were set where when she did go out on dates, she was quickly (either mentally or verbally) critiquing them. She allowed many past hurts to rule over her judgement of finding a compatible partner. These men didn’t stand a chance.
Another male client told me that all the women who he asked out, or surrounded him, really wanted “bad boys,” so he deduced that the only way he was going to even have a girlfriend was if he acted like a jerk. No amount of urging to just remain himself would convince him otherwise, and so he often dealt with bouts of depression and eating binges.
Are you seeing the connection?
What do we have blaring loudly in our faces now?
I am a TRUE believer, however, of the sanctity of marriage – now. I didn’t before, falling for the seduction that it was a mere paper that meant nothing. By the time I reached 28, I truly wanted to believe marriages could work and be loving, so I set out to study successful marriages, in my church, the celebrities, locals, and in the news. And once again, I was shocked, well, actually pleasantly surprised to see many, many displays of mutual respect and love, and complete unity with the married couples. I witnessed the wife respect her husband in the little nuances she did, mentioning that before taking on any major decision, she wanted to talk it over with her husband. I saw the husband excuse himself from situations, or making sure he was never alone with a woman, where any tiny sexual foothold could capture him, regardless of how ‘innocent’ his interactions with her seemed. I was beginning to see respect played out because of the love they both had for each other.
This was something that gave me hope. It IS possible.
However, like the quote in the movie, Fireproof,
“You can’t give what you don’t have.” If you don’t know what true sacrificial, selfless love is suppose to look like or feel like to receive, you definitely won’t know what it entails to give to another. And so continues the cycle of dysfunction, sadness, and heartache.
It took me YEARS after I decided to give my life to Jesus to even begin to understand His love. All I could understand was what was playing out in front of me. What He did years ago, was too much for me to bare, and I was always humbled to tears at the charitable acts of kindness shown to me from others. And it was without my having to perform. The more I focused on my gratitude towards Jesus and not only giving me salvation (which again, I didn’t fully grasp), I was reminded that, in everyday human terms, women had been killed for less, for the situations I had put myself into on my ‘freedom’ journey. As I plugged away at many recovery groups, therapy and counseling hours, I now grasp – a handful portion, of the Love that is given to me from My Heavenly Father, and chose to believe that my perfect-for-me husband was waiting for me.
And from THAT, I am able to gauge my display of respect and love towards my husband. Am I being kind to him? Am I forgiving him quickly? Am I asking for forgiveness when I make mistakes? Do I spend time and respect him or is our toddler daughter holding precedence over him?
When I see something on the internet or interact with someone in person that may arouse me, do I go in as nothing happened and make love to him? Respect runs DEEP, and is more than a song that is spelled out at karaoke bars.
This is my plight; to assist and encourage others that perhaps their personal definitions of love, respect, husband, and wife, should be studied, meditated, and perhaps corrected before imposing a relationship with another.
Love, Peace, and Respect to you all,
S. Arikah Baly-Jensen, Founder Two Hearts Offline Matchmaking