“[Mr. Darcy] sat down for a few moments, and then getting up, walked about the room. Elizabeth was surprised, but said not a word. After a silence of several minutes, he came towards her in an agitated manner, and thus began:
‘In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’"
Jane Austen in “Pride and Prejudice” describes Elizabeth Bennet’s reaction as one of astonishment “beyond expression. She stared, coloured, doubted, and was silent.” One can only imagine the inner turmoil erupting inside proud Mr. Darcy as he laid out his intentions. What is this fear … this angst … this extreme vulnerability? Is it part of the curse?
Carolyn McCulley says in her article What Is the Measure of a Man? that this is what being a man is all about: “risk and reward.”
“And we ladies want to encourage the men around us to be men and take risks. That’s how you express trust in God. We express trust in God by waiting on you.”
This period of agonizing waiting allows women, however, to evaluate the men who have captured their interest. Does he sit in the gates (Pr. 31:23)? Does he aspire to obtain the qualities of an overseer and deacon as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-10? Is he sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, able to teach or lead, not a drunkard, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, well thought of by outsiders, dignified, not double-tongued, not greedy? Is he a holder of “the mystery of the faith?”
Although we should not expect perfection, we “should look at the trajectory of their lives.” For instance observe his interaction with the church. McCulley asserts that “watching a man’s commitment to the Bride of Christ is going to help us discern how he will interact with an earthly bride. We can evaluate many things about a man’s character through serving together in church before we invest any of our emotions into a relationship with him.”
Once when praying about a man she found herself attracted to, McCulley was directed to read a passage in Isaiah 32. The passage although is chiefly about the Messiah, it also contrasts a man of noble of character with a scoundrel.
A noble man:
Is a shelter from the wind
Is a refuge from the storm
Is streams of water in the desert
The shadow of a great rock
Makes noble plans
Does noble deeds
Mind is busy with evil
Spreads error concerning the Lord
Makes up evil schemes
Does nothing for the hungry, thirsty
Although it is long, I have include here McCulley’s application of that passage:
“A noble man is a hiding place from the rough elements of life, a man who offers protection and shelter. He does not leave you exposed – either to ridicule or to harm. He is refreshment in a dry place, bringing much encouragement. He flows with streams of living water because he is a man of the Word. He is shade in weariness – reflecting the strength of the Rock, Christ. When a man is making noble plans toward you, he wants to offer you covering. He will offer to serve you, help carry your burdens, and pour the Word into your dry soul. His deeds will be noble, not common. He will show evidences of cherishing you, protecting your boundaries and standards. He won’t touch you like a common object, and he will exert himself to care for you and to notice your needs.”
Thank God for the man of noble character that God has placed in your life! But is he being INTENTIONAL toward you. “[A]n intentional man makes his purposes known. He tells you what he’s doing, and where he’s leading. He is clear about where he wants the relationship to go. When he’s not clear, when he’s not saying anything, when he’s enjoying the friendship but not moving forward – he’s not being intentional. Period. You don’t see noble deeds because he’s not making those noble plans. You may have the greatest friendship in the world, but he’s just hanging out in it. In fact, one man called this half-hearted testing of the water ‘the buddy approach.’”
Some women are content with this “part-time boyfriend,” but McCulley is convinced that it is a dangerous place to be.
1. “For one, I find it challenging to guard my heart and keep my peace before God in these ‘hopeful friendships.’ I’m always in danger of closing my fist-of-demand over the friendship, instead of leaving his friendship in open hands before the Lord.
2. Second, it tempts the men to passivity, in my humble observation. It provides them with the out of “Oh, maybe you misunderstood me, we’re just friends.” If we women would be better about guarding the amount of time and attention invested in these close friendships, we might see our reserve rewarded with pursuit instead of passivity.”
“When is a man interested? When he says so, and his actions back up his words. Anything less is at best merely friendly, and possibly even uncertain or inconsiderate. If he’s a noble man who’s made noble plans, one of his noble deeds is letting you know about it!”
McCulley concludes her column by speaking to the men:
“(A shout out to the guys still reading this column. See? It really does come down to those three little words: TALK. TO. HER. I also hope you are not discouraged by the points above. It’s worth stating again: Perfection is not the standard. We only want to see you taking biblical standards seriously and attempting to apply them in your lives. I often receive letters from guys saying there’s not much material out there for cultivating godliness as a single man. Yes, it does seem that most materials are for single women. Though I do not presume to fill that void – it’s better that you are equipped and discipled by other godly men – I do hope that by eavesdropping here you’ve derived some benefit and have some points to discuss with the guys. We women are praying for you!)”