If we’ve gone through the stages as God intended, by the time we get to the “lover” stage, we should be ready for this unique and challenging season.
In the season of the Cowboy we learn to take risks, have fun and adventures that will help us grow spiritually as well as physically. In the season of the Warrior, we are trained to fight the battles that come our way because we are threats to the “prince of this world” (Satan).
There are many men who rush to the lover stage right out of boyhood. They are prepared physically but not even close to being prepared mentally or emotionally. That kind of preparation only comes with going through the seasons of cowboy and warrior.
John Eldredge makes a great point in Wild at Heart:
Just as every little boy is asking one question, every little girl is, as well. But her question isn’t so much about her strength. No, the deep cry of a little girl’s heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God. Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well…. A little girl looks to her father to know if she is lovely…. So many unloved women turn to boys to try to hear what they never heard from their father. [Wild at Heart, John Eldredge, page 183]
He talks about wounds that are received by boys and girls from their fathers. The wound for a boy is “You don’t have what it takes to be a man.” The wound for a girl is “You are not captivating enough for my love.” When a girl doesn’t get that question answered by her own father, then she goes looking for the answer in another male.
She will go to another man and give anything she can to hear that she is loved. And a man who has not soaked in the cowboy and warrior seasons will take advantage of that – perhaps thinking, naively enough, that it is his right.
To help understand this, let me tell you a little bit about two girls that I once taught in a seventh and eighth grade religion class.
One is abused by her mother. Grandmother is suing for custody but they don’t get along (because she is too strict).
One doesn’t know who her biological father is. Her step-father is gay, was incarcerated for several years but is now out of jail and wanting to get back into his step-daughter’s life.
Both were dating guys in a True Young Men’s group I was leading at the time. I worked with them to try to help them understand that these girls were taking their question to them and the distinct possibility is that they would do anything for these guys to get a positive answer to “Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for?” Anything.
The Season of the Lover demands us to fight for love. To be a lover-warrior. We’ll need to know how to be a warrior from the Season of the Warrior. We will seek the adventure of love within the boundaries that God intended (marriage) because we have been trained for adventure in the Season of the Cowboy.
For men who are not married (but hope to be someday): Your future spouse has been chosen for you by God. From the day she was born, she was intended by God for you. This is His daughter. He will present her to you when you are ready – that is what He intends. As such – the daughter of God – she deserves your purity, your integrity, and your love and desire. Develop all that by living through the Seasons as God intends.
For those who are married: your wife – again as a daughter of God – deserves your protection. Her honor is in your hands. Fight for her. Don’t let anything get in the way, don’t let anything take her away. Which includes: work. The internet. Drink. Sports. “The guys.” You get the picture.
The Season of the Lover is important because it is through love that we truly begin to understand our God. 1 John 4:16 tells us that “God is love.” One of the most popular ways to express love is through poetry. However, poetry isn’t exactly the most masculine of things – at least the way we think of poetry in this day and age. But if we can just get beyond the strange cadence and all that rhyming and get to the meat that lies underneath, we’ll begin to understand the language of this season.
Now, I’m not saying we all need to go out and buy a book of poems and make that our evening reading assignments. Some guys get poetry and some don’t. God knows I’ve tried but I just haven’t found it yet (however, I’m limited in my experience at this point).
But think about this for a moment. In the Old Testament, who would you consider to be the epitome of a man – a real man’s man? If you said King David you’re tuned right in to me. Here was a guy who could kill a lion or bear with his hands, maybe a sling at the most. He faced a nine-foot-tall warrior with just a sling and a stone. He spent fourteen years on the run from a king he loved but who wanted to kill him. He was the successful soldier of who it was said, “Saul kills his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.” This is a man.
But he would be more accurately called Israel’s Warrior-Poet. He wrote poetry! And do you know what his favorite subject was? His love of God!
Take a few minutes to reflect on some of the poetry of David and as you read through these, jot down some notes about the relationship with God that David’s poetry presents.