The Ivory Tower
It’s beautiful, this ivory tower. It shines like a beacon, beckoning all to test their mettle and see if they can make the climb. Carved all around the tower walls are intricately woven vines and roses. They stand out just enough to grip and climb, but only just enough. The climb will be a little treacherous, hard. At the top of this tower awaits the beautiful maiden, the one who will validate you as a man and make all your dreams come true. You just have to reach her!
It’s a myth, this tower. And when you place a woman up there, she feels a bit uneasy. I have found it a heady view that makes me dizzy when I look down. You see, I know who I am. I am this wonderful creature, a beautiful daughter of a great King, yes, as are all of my sisters; but I am also fallible and weak. I have moments of selfishness and ugliness. In other words, I am simply human. And the higher I’m placed in that tower, the greater I know I will eventually fall.
What I’ve come to learn and see is so deeply important for both men and women. Most men need to battle for the woman. It’s hard-wired in who they are. They need to pursue and fight for her. Letting a man be who he’s destined by God to be is a gift a woman can give him. But a woman can never validate a man. She can never become the answer for his soul.
When a man is looking for a woman to do so, he places them both on precarious ground. After all, if a woman validates your manhood, it means she’s equally capable of taking it away. If a man is looking to a woman to “complete” him, as romantic and beautiful as that feels initially, she takes on enormous pressure to somehow become this mythical creature he’s looking for but doesn’t really exist.
Of course the same is true for women. We need to believe we are worthy of being fought for, that we are beautiful and special to a man. We want to be won. This is hard-wired into the heart of nearly every woman. Yet if we look to find our validation and our sense of identity and worth solely from a man, we live in desperate fear of being invalidated, of falling off the tower; we fear we will never be beautiful enough.
I write a lot about challenges and spiritual/emotional tunnels we go through, but I think the relationship tunnel is one of the most prolific around. Being married or single isn’t a determinant for being in this tunnel, either. It’s universal in nature and seen everywhere on the planet.
Exiting this tunnel begins, as so many journeys do, within ourselves. You can’t give what you don’t have. Validation comes from God and in owning the unique ways He’s wired us as individuals. No one can be you. No one contains the exact measure of strengths, weaknesses, gifts and flaws. No one can shine quite the way you shine on this earth. We each have our own role to play. No one else can play it for you – or give it to you. Owning who you are before God is the most empowering, validating step you can ever take.
Yes, strong, healthy relationships also validate and empower us. They bring out our hardwiring and make us better for the process. There is something special a woman can’t get from other women, just as there’s something special a man can’t get from other men. We do need each other. It’s just our sole existence can’t rest exclusively within each other without great peril to the heart and soul. There has to be a changeless core inside first.
Without a doubt my most painful blows in life have come from looking for my internal and eternal validation from someone other than God. A great relationship of any kind will enhance that validation immeasurably, certainly. A romantic relationship does so in a very intimate, special way. Yet no relationship can completely fill you. The challenge for all of us is to resist the temptation to let another person be our sole source of validation. Refuse to buy into the Ivory Tower myth.
My dream? It’s the dream of nearly every wife, every woman, every little girl out there. I wait for that warrior to battle for me, and to let me know I’m beautiful throughout and I matter. I want to be pursued for who I am. Not from some tower high above, but with a man who will take my hand, sword swinging, and lead me through the adventures of this life side-by-side, knowing full well I am flawed just as he is. Yet we understand and accept each other’s weaknesses.
We’re there for each other, giving encouragement, love, respect and power for the journey. We tend to each other’s battle wounds along the way as best we can. There are spaces in our togetherness. We both understand there are needs a man has that can’t be filled by a woman, and needs a woman has that can’t be filled by a man. But we come back better and closer because of the spaces, ready again to charge ahead.
For Further Thought: Isaiah 45:24 tells us, “In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.” Think of the times or situations you’re most tempted to find your deepest sense of worth in others. Offer it up to God this week and pray for the ability to feel validation from Him during those moments.
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