Ask Him: Feat. Kevin

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Kevin is an interesting one. I met him through our young adult group this summer after he had recently left seminary (a type of “school” men go to discern priesthood) where he lived for fourteen years.

Not four, fourteen.

Through a long and arduous process of attempting to understand what he felt called to, Kevin discovered that marriage was one thing he couldn’t let go of and deeply desired. Even more importantly, he realized it was what would lead him to become the best man he could be.

He was excited and super relieved. As beautiful as the priesthood is, he knew it wasn’t for him and that this is okay.

“God doesn’t just want me to be useful, he wants me to be full of joy and at peace.”

So he left seminary and is now headed to grad school this Fall at Notre Dame to study business.

His goal is to be an “evangelizing businessman”. He wants to form relationships with executives and invite them to achieve greatness not only financially, but also spiritually and morally.

He hopes to find “twelve guys with a ton of cash to make a difference.”

#goals.

Go Kev!

What are some qualities you look for in a woman?

“My biggest fear leaving seminary was becoming girl-crazy…so I actually made a list of qualities to look for in a woman to help keep me grounded.”

  1. Christ-centered: “Not just prayer-centered…I want a woman who is in love with Christ. That’s a non-negotiable for me. I guess my fear was falling for appearances without that spiritual foundation.”

  2. Selfless: “A woman who will put Christ first, me second and herself third. Just as I will put Christ first, her second and myself third.”

  3. Honest: “She isn’t afraid to tell me what upsets her, how she feels…I don’t want to date/marry someone who expects me to read between the lines or constantly read her mind. I’m a pretty upfront and empathetic guy; I delicately say what I think. I can’t handle relationships where I feel like the other person is hiding something from me, or is dissatisfied with me in some way but won’t tell me what it is…so I’m hurting them without knowing what I’m doing wrong. That is important to me, not that you’re pleased with me but that you’re upfront with me.”

  4. Affectionate: “That’s really important to me because due to my mother passing away when I was young, there were a few years where I didn’t receive that feminine touch. I definitely could not handle someone who withholds affection as punishment or is constantly asking me to prove myself. To me personally, being affectionate is a quality that I really look for in a woman.”

How do you show interest in a woman?

“First thing is just saying ‘Hey, I’d like to know you better.’ If I’m interested in a girl the first thing I do is spend time with her. I usually take it one step at a time and to me that first step is friendship.”

What do you admire about women in general?

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman…I don’t just mean that physically. A woman’s ability to love without limits is incredible. My mom had cancer and they told her that she had something like 4-6 weeks left to live and she basically said ‘forget it, I have kids and I’m going to make sure they’re okay.’ She fought a year and a half. To me that’s incredible. Her ability to give of herself was truly beautiful and inspires me to this day.

And then I see women who flaunt their bodies and it’s kind of a shame really. They’re putting forth their ‘best selves’ and if that’s what they see as their true beauty…it’s too bad. An immodest woman is either looking for something I can’t give or turning me into a man I don’t want to be.

Not that women have to be frumpy, but an immodest woman turns me off because they don’t see what’s really beautiful about themselves, which is that selfless love of a woman that goes way beyond I think the way a man can love.”

You think women can love more than men?

“Yes. Men are naturally protectors, defenders, whereas women are much more relational…women are really the bond that holds the family together. Women are willing to suffer for the love of their husband or kids…it shows how strong women truly are. I think we’re all called to love as we’re able but I think that there’s something very particular about the way women love.

When a woman knows that she is loved and is sure of herself she can love in a way that a man can only admire.”

So what does man have to offer?

“I think a woman has more of a nourishing, bonding love and man has more of a sacrificial and practical type of love.”

Do you think it’s important for a man to ask a girl out?

“Yes. Choices are always about deciding which good thing you want. So for a guy to work up the courage to walk across a room and ask a girl out is a sign that he is willing to overcome obstacles (such as fear) to choose her. For a man to pursue a woman proves that he really cares about her…it’s not a casual thing. The more a guy pursues and proves in his actions that he really wants the girl, the better it is for the relationship. It’s important for a girl to know that he truly cares about her.”

Is it important for him that he ask her out?

“I think it’s important for him to test his own desire. Things that come easy aren’t really worth having. I’m not saying a woman should just blow a guy off…women have a deep desire to be pursued and know that they are truly beautiful. A man is on a quest to achieve something great for someone beautiful. Those are two complementary desires. There is something to the whole Rapunzel story, a man doing something to prove that the women is worth it. If she has someone by her side that fought for her it is so grounding.

If a woman were to come up to me and start a relationship I would be asking myself, ‘Do I really like this girl? Or am I just going out with her because she’s offering me things that I want?’

If you’re really sure that you are beautiful and worthy, why would you sell yourself so cheap? And the guy wants the challenge.”

Kevin’s thoughts on self-worth:

If a woman isn’t satisfied with herself she’s not ready to date. She doesn’t need a boyfriend to assure her – that will never work. She needs time alone to be at peace with herself. If I recognize a woman is struggling with her own self-worth, I feel dating her would be almost taking advantage of her. She needs time apart from someone – she is in a vulnerable state and if you insert yourself at that moment she’ll always need you…I wouldn’t want to do that to her or set myself up to fill a hole I’ll never be able to fill. It would be an act of selfishness for a guy to start a relationship with a girl who he knows is struggling with self-worth.

What are you looking forward to in the near or distant future?

When I left seminary I was totally starting over and I was happy because I knew I was where I needed to be…spiritually what I’ve learned after 14 years of seminary is that happiness and holiness isn’t about achieving some holy-goal. It’s about listening to where you’re called and throwing everything you have behind that calling. My hope and dream – more than a successful career or finding the perfect woman – has more to do with my relationship with Christ, having the strength to leave aside whatever is interfering with that relationship and live His will day by day.

Did I mention Kevin’s Catholic?

I was so impressed with his thoughts, a HUGE thank you to him for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about these things.

To good men.

xo

Miranda

Queens Don’t

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For the past three or four days I’ve basically been listening to RaeLynn’s new song, Queens Don’t, on repeat.

#fangirl

It’s funny because this is a message I’ve been thinking about for a while but just haven’t been sure about how exactly to put it into words, and then she did…perfectly.

“I wasn’t raised in a castle
I grew up on the outskirts of town
No dresses with golden tassels
The rings on my hand are handed down
But I’m gonna find the one that needs me, sees me
And treats me like I’m already royalty
There ain’t nothing priceless on my wrist
I might not fly private, but that don’t mean I ain’t a queen.”

If you detest country music or can’t understand southern accents, the gist of the song is that she (RaeLynn) is a queen and expects to be treated accordingly. Not only that, but she realizes that there are also expectations on her end regarding her behavior as a ‘royal’:

“Queens don’t hate, queens don’t fight
Queens don’t stay unless their king treats her right, oh
Every jewel on my crown you better believe I earned it
Won’t keep people around that don’t believe I deserve it
No, queens ain’t fake
A queen’s gonna rule just the way she was made, oh
I ain’t ’bout to let nobody come and take me off this throne
Some girls might, but queen’s don’t.”

If it’s hard for you to take country music lyrics seriously, I understand. Another way of looking at it is thinking about the Netflix series ‘The Crown’.

Queen Elizabeth knew that there were exceedingly high standards on both sides because of her status. Being waited on and treated with the utmost respect was the norm for Elizabeth. However her status not only required others to treat her a certain way, it also meant there were extremely high demands being made from her. She had to look, dress and behave in accordance with her title. Even if she was not wearing a crown people needed to know she had one.

I know that we aren’t all royal in the sense that people address us as ‘her majesty’ (although I’m not opposed to that), and I know that RaeLynn isn’t ‘royal’ either (or that she thinks she is). The truth that she is sharing with us is a little less conspicuous than ballgowns or diamond headpieces.

It has more to do with our innate dignity: (noun) the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

As women we have great worth. It’s something that is hard to put a finger on… is it our beauty? Our ability to bring life into the world? Our contributions to the workplace?

I think in general it has to do with less about what we do and more of who we are… in other words, our femininity. Which includes all of this but certainly not exclusively.

I’ve always detested these kind of messages (which is why I have been so reluctant to write about it): You’re so worth it; you are worthy; you are enough; believe in yourself, you deserve so much more…

Ugh, gag. Cringe cringe cringe.

I really hate talking about those things or hearing sentences like that. No thanks.

The unfortunate thing for me is that they (like RaeLynn) are right. Having a little more experience under my belt, I actually have come to realize that knowing this and living in a way that reflects it is of the utmost importance.

Why? Because it’s true; and because men need to be reminded of it…by us (unfortunately GQ and Men’s Health have yet to write an article about this).

Unless they happen to listen to RaeLynn’s music.

There’s a reason men get down on one knee before they propose, there’s a reason we are given flowers, there’s a reason chivalry is a thing (and if you think it’s dead then you need to hang out with better guys). It’s not superficial, it’s not an outdated tradition, it’s not silly or sexist…it’s vital. Why? Because we are absolutely the most beautiful and wonderful thing on this Earth (I can’t speak for other planets) and we should be treated like it, our nature demands it.

Guys don’t get addicted to looking at pictures of fancy cars. You don’t see billboards of beautiful trees advertising sweet smells or promises of luxury. It’s us.

There is nothing more beautiful than a woman, there’s just not. Part of our calling is to reveal beauty. And – this is important – we don’t do so by wearing clothes that are seductive or mountains of make-up. We do so by our demeanor, our words, our actions and how we love. There is nothing like it, and therein lies our absolute and unquestionable worth.

Our gentleness, tenderness, sweetness, receptivity, docility, hospitality, warmth, our strength, our loveliness, faithfulness, resiliency, vulnerability…so feminine, so wonderful, so life giving.

And let me just say, this doesn’t mean that you have to be the ‘nice girl’. I find the ‘good girl’ stereotype a little repulsive. It absolutely diminishes us. I don’t consider myself one. Nice is on the surface, these qualities run much deeper.

I don’t believe many guys intentionally think ‘yeah this girl is worthless’, but like most things our value is not necessarily an innate belief either: they need to be taught (or at least reminded…often).

Men should delight in us, adore us.

If we live and act in a way that says ‘hey, I’m pretty priceless’, others will typically follow our lead.

Okay so how?

You act as if you were the most precious thing in the whole world, because you are.

We take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, spiritually…we nourish our friendships, we develop our gifts, we find joy in our lives. We are aware of what we say and treat others with the same care. 

Goodness is attractive.

I don’t mean being perfect. Goodness I don’t mean that. I get angry, I drop the ball, I wear my shirt inside out and backwards…but I know. Ultimately, I remind myself over and over and over that I am invaluable and the man who gets close to me will need to know that too.

Precious and sought after, we find comfort in the man who treats us accordingly and love him fiercely.

We don’t let him in until we know (or at least strongly suspect) that he is worthy. It’s okay for us to ask him to prove himself, to show his interest, to pursue. It’s not too much to ask, because the prize is priceless. We should not be asked to leave our throne, we allow them to approach it while watching attentively.

It’s not a chase, it’s not a game. Men’s hearts are not to be toyed with, but sometimes we have to be our own security guards. Really patting the person down (figuratively, ladies) before we let them through the gates. There is too much at risk. If we communicate our own value in how we act, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated, it’s a lot easier to narrow down the field to only a few contenders who are willing to rise up to our standards – because they desire us and they understand that it is worth it.

Honestly, everything I am struggling to tell you has already been said by a very wise man a few years ago.

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

Bishop Fulton Sheen

So, yeah. That’s it basically.

We expect great things from men, but from ourselves first and foremost. When the temptation to ‘settle’ sneaks up on us, we don’t. Some girls might, but queens don’t.

xo

Miranda

Why Elle King shocked with ‘It’s Different for Girls’

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About six years ago I moved to the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina. For those unfamiliar with the area, Charleston has all the enchantment of an old city (cobblestone streets, picturesque buildings, etc.) combined with the beauty of the water (we’re about ten minutes away from the beach) and excellent cuisine (so many good restaurants). However, a significant flaw about the area which I discovered pretty quickly was that every person I knew loved country music.

Not me.

Six years later, I humbly admit (is it actually humble if you say it’s humble?) that I have come to enjoy country music quite a lot and listen to it frequently. I’m not really sure how the conversion happened, but here we are.

A song that came out a few months ago that especially caught my attention was one by Dierks Bentley featuring Elle King called ‘It’s Different for Girls’ (which incidentally was nominated for a Grammy this weekend). The reason why it shocked me is pretty obvious when you listen to the lyrics:

“It’s different for girls, nobody said it was fair: When love disappears, they can’t pretend it was never there.”

The song goes on to describe the differences between how men and women cope with break-ups:

“A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up. Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on…it’s different for girls.”

My first thought when I had heard the song was: “this is going to get a lot of backlash.”

In today’s hook-up culture that especially encourages women to put themselves out there and not get too attached, this song contradicts the popular notion that women can and should pursue casual encounters with men, becoming both physically and emotionally intimate without any commitment.

Not only that, but even more surprising was Ms. King agreeing with him, echoing the song’s controversial message with her lines:

“She don’t sleep all day and leave the house a wreck. She don’t have the luxury to let herself go…”

This is coming from the woman who is behind the hits: Ex’s and Oh’s and ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ both of which have very different perspectives from this country tune.

While I certainly am an advocate of all people being created equal, I do see where Dierks is coming from; after all, though men and women are equal, we are also different.

This is especially evident in our relationality (the importance we place on our relationships) and the way closeness with another person affects us deeply. We largely define ourselves by our relationships: with our family, our friends and our boyfriends/husbands.

That is not to say that men are unaffected by intimacy, rather because of the way we are made, even ‘casual’ intimacy (physical or emotional) touches women deeply, whether we want it to or not.

Part of that is due to a chemical called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’ that is released after having sex, having a baby and even during more casual physical contact. This hormone is called the ‘love hormone’ because it creates a feeling of affection and trust in the person it is attached to.

Think of having a baby, how incredible of a miracle that is, the level of attachment that exists between mother and child. You don’t have to have experienced it personally to know that there is nothing more powerful than the love of a mother for her child. Safe to say, oxytocin is a powerful hormone. And in the right context, it’s an amazing thing. Oxytocin bonds people. So, even when you’re mad at your husband or frustrated with your daughter, there’s a deeper connection that goes beyond how you feel for them at the moment…it’s a chemical, biological bond.

However the trouble starts with the words we hear in Dierks Bentley and Elle King’s song.

We can’t just “fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on.”

We don’t say “it’s okay, I never loved him anyway.”

We might try; we might go out, drink too much, go home with another guy, max our credit cards, tell our friends we’re ‘over it’…but the truth lies in the tears that come when we’re alone, the unwanted memories, and the longing for the phone to ring.

Not only are we sad the person is gone, we’re frustrated that we aren’t okay about it. Days, weeks, months go by; we should be over it but we’re not. Why? Because we’re physically wired so that intimacy matters; is has a deep impact on our lives.

This is actually a pretty cool thing because we’re made to love and be loved; and love by definition has two components: exclusivity and permanency.

Therefore, anything less than that, for example  a one night stand or a five year marriage that ends in divorce…isn’t going to cut it. It’s not supposed to.

So what does this mean for us?

Emotionally, psychologically and physically we’re made for more…and that is what we should look for. Not a fling, not a rebound, not a guy who doesn’t know what he wants or isn’t ‘ready’ to commit. That is going to end in heartbreak, it’s not what we are made for.

Love is ultimately a gift of self…how can we give ourselves to someone who isn’t going to stick around? It’s similar to pouring money into an investment that is going to fail…not a smart decision.

We have to start expecting more from our relationships. There’s a lot of cynicism out there because of the high divorce rate and fewer and fewer people committing to each other for the long-term…it’s up to us to turn that around.

Romantic love can start from a healthy friendship, it can grow and flourish when we push through the fear and risk encountering someone and becoming close to them, not just using them for a more favorable relationship status or fleeting pleasure. But it starts with our expectations. If we expect a healthy, committed relationship, that is what we will attract. Of course this is harder to come by than a hook up but I think good things are worth waiting for.

As women we should honor ourselves by only accepting the kind of love we were made for…not anything less. I suspect more often than not, men respect that. They may not be able to always come through for us, but one day one will…and that’s all you need.

I know Valentine’s Day can be a sore subject for many of us, but I like to look at it hopefully. True romance is a beautiful gift and when we have the patience and courage to wait for it, we experience firsthand how powerful and wonderful it really is.

After all,

“There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and woman in marriage.” – Raymond Burke

Elle and Dierks may have caught us off guard with this song. I wouldn’t be surprised if some listeners were offended by their message; but Elle’s contribution adds credibility to what is already scientific fact. She sings from her personal experience as a woman which has taught her that it is different girls. And thank God it is, because our desire for authentic love is what centers us and men and is a reminder of what really matters.