Saturday, January 7, 2006

Never weak, but always strong?

I have the song "It Ain't Me, Babe" by Johnny Cash and June Carter running through my head. At one point Cash sings, "You say you're looking for someone who's never weak but always strong, to protect you and defend you whether you are right or wrong." And then he proceeds to explain that "it ain't me you're lookin' for." It's almost a humorous song, but it's also sad.

It seems that men often get the impression that a woman is looking for perfection in them. This is a lot of pressure, indeed. I can see why many men feel this way. This song seems to express the high expectations men often feel that women have of them. And I'm sure that many a woman (not only today, but throughout the course of history) have sought a savior in a relationship with a man. As Christopher West says in his talk Sex and the Meaning of Life, whenever any person expects another person to be their savior and to make them happy in every way, they will crush that other person. He says, "Do not hang your hat on a nail that cannot support the weight."

"It Ain't Me, Babe" seems to paint a picture of how a man can feel extreme pressure from a woman to be perfect in every way according to her standard of perfection. Cash (along with Carter) sings of his frustration and resignation, "It ain't me, babe. It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe." And there is also a sense in the song that he does not love this woman and is not interested in making sacrifices for her. I have no clue what Cash or Carter thought about this song.

When Cash sings that this woman wants "someone who is never weak but always strong," I think, "Most women don't want that." I'm not saying I, or any other woman, desire a husband who is wimpy, passive, effeminate, or overly emotional. Somewhere in Wild At Heart, John Eldredge describes a difficult period in his marriage, and whenever he and his wife finally discuss what is wrong she tells him, "You don't need me." It is built into a woman to be a nurturer, and a woman desires to be needed, even by her husband. Women like to be able to encourage and to comfort at times.

Ponder these lyrics from a few other songs:

"Made for You" by Watermark (a husband and wife duo, Nathan and Christy Nockels):

Nathan: "Darling, I need to confess,
it's hard to show my weaknesses.
I want so much to show you strength,
With every feeling . . . everything."

Christy: "You know what I always say.
When you're weak you're strong to me;
It's another way of loving me.
'Cause when I see your heart,
I get carried through
The reasons why I fell in love with you."

"Til Kingdom Come" by Coldplay:

"Hold my hand inside your hands,
I need someone who understands.
I need someone, someone who hears,
For you, I've waited all these years.

For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come.
Until my day, my day is done.
And say you'll come, and set me free,
Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me."

"You are like Coming Home" by Lonestar:

"Go ahead and let your hair fall down.
This wanderlust: it's gone now.
I'm here in your arms; I'm safe from the road again.
These are the days that can't be erased:
Baby, there isn't a better place;
You're like heaven; you're like coming home.

You're like a Sunday mornin', pleasin' my eyes;
You're a midsummer's dream under a star-soaked sky,
That peaceful easy feelin' at the end of a long, long road.
You're like coming home.

You're that innocence, that serenity,
That long-lost part of me."

[ Oh, the complimentarity of the sexes. Gotta love it. ;-) ]

"To Really Love a Woman" by Bryan Adams:

"When you find yourself lying helpless in her arms,
You know you really love a woman."

[Among other images this last line conjures, I picture Christ as a helpless infant sleeping on Mary's lap and also Christ lying lifeless in His mother's arms after His removal from the cross on which He was crucified. The ultimate man Himself loved a woman and gave Himself to be loved by her.]

I had heard somewhere that after the Fall, men have a tendency to objectify women and women have a tendency to worship men. We see this everywhere! Women will take horrendous physical abuse or abort their own child in order to keep the "love" of a particular man. This is the nurturing instinct turned against the woman and used as a weapon. (Yeah, Satan has a way of doing that with good things, and we're all hopeless without God's revealed truth since the Fall.) I wonder if this problem is what God meant when he told Eve after she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Hmmmmm???

Anyway, just some thoughts that were running through my mind. ;-)



Mattias A. Caro said...

This too remineds me of a few lines from an Evanescence song Everybody's Fool:
look here she comes now
bow down and stare in wonder
oh how we love you
no flaws when you're pretending
but now i know she

never was and never will be
you don't know how you've betrayed me
and somehow you've got everybody fooled

without the mask where will you hide
can't find yourself lost in your lie

i know the truth now
i know who you are
and i don't love you anymore

it never was and never will be
you're not real and you can't save me
somehow now you're everybody's fool

I've found it so easy to cross that line between caring for a person because of whom they are and be passionate for someone because of what you think they can fulfill. Today's word—well really, people of all time—have always seemed to have that deep longing in their heart. And because we are made to be with others, and because the sex's compliment so well, it seems so easy to just slide into thinking that another person can fill that need inside of us that was only made for God.

It seems trite to remark that you can only find yourself by forgetting yourself, and ultimately of being willing to sacrifice. Before the fall, it is not recorded that Adam complained of being naked or indeed of being lonely. He only knew that the various animals brought to him by God were not a suitable partner, and more than a partner, a help-mate. It was not until he literally gave of himself that he found joy: the bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. You can almost feel their contentment at finding each other jumping out from the text.

But it's so easy to slide into idealizing someone. I was over at a friend's house tonight and his younger brother is a little casanova. In fact, though a high school senior, a college girl flew in all the way from Iowa to see him. This is causing the rather comedic situation that he can't go to his normal church tomorrow morning for mass because his other girlfriend will see him there with this girl who is most definitely not his sister.

He makes me laugh. Anytime I talk to Casanova about his interests every girl is perfect for one quality or another: her hair, her eyes, her figure, etc. Perfection. If I just capture that one perfect trait, I'll be happy. Somewhere in Ruth the author warns of failing for a woman based solely on her charms. Those will fade. Rather love a woman who will be faithful and who has her heart set on the Lord. Ultimately that'll reflect itself in a character that recognizes all too well it's weakness but is willing to make the struggle and admit flaws.

It's like in the movie Good Will Hunting: Robin Williams' character reminds Matt Damon's that imperfections, picadillo's, flaws: that's the good stuff

Finally, as my moral theology professor once remarked, his favorite song is Joyful, Joyful, we adore you. Why? Well the 80 year old man remarked that everytime he sees his wife after a long day they beck and call to each other with the second verse. She calls him My well spring and joy of living and he calls her my ocean depth of happy rest

Anonymous said...

I don't recall it verbatim, and perhaps not even the complete thought, but I definitely recall in Theology of the Body JP II addressed God's warning "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." And at least a major part of it did have to do with men treating women as objects of lust and so as a possession one would rule over. And how it was not God saying that is how it should be simply how it would become do to the perversion sin has on the way the spousal relationship should be.

For those with a better memory or more patience in looking up the correct info, feel free to elaborate.


Natalie said...

In relation to Mattias's comments, I would recommend Eldredge's book Wild At Heart again. He speaks about the "Golden Haired" woman that he believes many men are searching for. This refers to whatever image it is that a man envisions the perfect woman to be, and the man continually quests to find her. Oftentimes he believes he has found her, and at last, she will make him feel like a man. But then as time passes, he discovers that she is not really the Ideal, and he is off on another quest to find the "Golden Haired" woman. It makes a lot of sense.

I'm not familiar with a quote from Ruth along the lines of what you mentioned, Mattias, but perhaps you were thinking of Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who honors the LORD should be praised."

And in relation to the quote from Good Will Hunting (which I have not seen), I once read an interview with Sandra Bullock (i.e. Miss Congeniality)in which she commented, "It is our imperfections that make us beautiful." As I looked at her unique, but beautiful features, I thought, "Yeah, she's so beautiful because she's so unique."

And lastly, I finally watched the Family Man DVD (twice). I really loved the movie! The whole story demonstrates the beauty of knowing the people in your life so well, including all of their flaws and imperfections, and loving them all the more because of it. (*sigh*)

Anonymous said...

okay, just to let you know, the song was written by Bob Dylan and not Cash

Natalie said...

Thank you. :)