The key to the first barrier is salvation. It’s God’s grace. The key to the second barrier is understanding. You need to understand where other people are coming from and how they are wired.
The third barrier is the gender barrier. The difference between men and women. And I gave you a list here out of a book by a Swiss psychologist who is a Christian: Dr. Paul Tournier. And notice, you can circle the word, “Males tend to be,” “Females tend to be.”
This isn’t ironclad. There are women who have some of these characteristics and men who have some of these characteristics. But these are characteristics in general that women have that are different than men. And let me just take an aside, can we just be very kind and gentle and cover something that is getting a lot of news right now?
If you want to know your sexual identity, you need to go into the bathroom, open the shower door and look in the mirror at yourself naked and you will discover your sexual identity.
I mean this very, very kindly. Sexual identity isn’t something you choose nor is it psychological. It is by design. A man’s body and a woman’s body are very, very different by design.
Secondly, a woman’s brain and her emotions and her relational capacity is very different than a man’s. We need to be very gentle and be very compassionate with people who have transgender issues and struggles. We need to be very gentle and very compassionate with people who have same-sex attraction or over-the-top heterosexual attraction.
But the design that God has given for a man and a woman is not just our bodies. It’s our minds, it’s our hearts, it’s our emotions. He has made us to complement one another.
And so we always want to be very, very sensitive. But don’t begin to believe or think that you can change design. In fact, a recent article I read in a book. He is the head of the psychiatric department at Johns Hopkins and they ceased doing sex change operations after seventeen years.
And they did research. He just said, “We did all these sex change operations,” and they went back through and they evaluated all the people who had the operations and what they found was the identity struggles and issues and the problems they had emotionally and relationally weren’t changed because their body parts were changed.
And so we need to be very, very compassionate. But you need to understand what God has designed, there are differences between men and women for a reason and if you don’t understand them when you’re dating, if you don’t understand them when you’re working with someone, and if you don’t understand these when you get married they can cause a lot of problems.
So males tend to be more achievement oriented; women tend to be more relationship oriented. Men tend to be more theoretical and generalist; women tend to be more specific and detailed. Men tend to be more information oriented; women more emotionally oriented.
Why? Because men and women don’t look at things the same. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. Men tend to be more action oriented. Women are more verbal. Studies, the average woman speaks one-third to fifty percent more words. That’s not bad but it is different.
Men tend to be more factual oriented; women are more intuitively oriented. Men tend to be more goal oriented; women more supportive and nurturing. Here’s what you need to understand: Men and women are different and if you don’t recognize that you’ll be frustrated.
1 Peter 3 admonishes husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way. And he says, “Do this so that your prayers won’t be hindered.” And then he uses this phrase that often people get upset about. He says, “Because she is,” literally, “the weaker vessel.” And he is speaking of physical. We all know that women are, at least all the test scores, they tend to be a little smarter than men and they are way more emotionally intelligent than most men. But physically, they are weaker.
And so there’s this idea that: Husbands, you need to protect and care for your wives and so in the circles that you live in now with men and women, well, let’s just say there are special ops and now military you can be anything. Let’s just say there’s a five-foot-three special ops, black belt, she’s got it done and we’ve got another special ops guy who is six-two, two forty-five. And they have both been trained exactly the same and they are going to go into combat. Who do you think is going to win?
Now, maybe she’s got some super-duper karate or something but men are bigger and stronger and for a reason. They are not better. We need one another. We need to stop taking the differences and pitting them against each other and trying to say there is no difference.
And you know what we need to do is appreciate. There’s our word. You need to appreciate the difference that a woman is. Appreciate the difference that a man is. Realize we will have different roles. We are going to love in different ways. Our love languages are going to be different. We are not the same. God created the sexes for a purpose that we would be completed by one another.
The fourth barrier is historical barrier. And this is what I call our baggage.
1 Corinthians 6 it talks about a number of things that bring sorrow and pain to God and us to one another like greed and idolatry and immorality and fornication and just all kinds of things.
And then he gets to the end of it and he says, Stop doing that because it violates God’s will. It hurts God’s heart. And it causes pain with one another. And then he has this big line, “And such were some of you.”
And he just says, Look, we are all fallen people. We all have pasts. We all have baggage. We all have struggles. We have all done stuff we are ashamed of. But those things, some of them that were done to us, even, they impact how you relate.
And so if you have a spiritual barrier where your tendency and mine is to be selfish and then we are different with personalities so we are fallen human beings, we are unique human beings, but we are sexual human beings. And so we are going to look at things through a different lens.
Finally, we are damaged human beings. And so here’s some of the baggage that we all carry to one level or another. One is family upbringing. Right? You have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. She comes from only family, only child. You come with five brothers and sisters. There’s a difference.
Someone grows up in the Midwest and here are their values and this is what family means. Someone grows up in the inner city, completely different.
For others, kids come out of abusive emotionally or physically or sexually or you grew up where your parents divorced when you were eight or you lost your father in a car wreck. All these things, these are huge imprints.
My wife was married very young, she wasn’t a Christian, her husband started dealing drugs and ran off with another woman to another state. She cried for two years, hoped for reconciliation, came to Christ as a result of it.
So, man, if I, early, the first ten years, if I would look at her just a little bit, she just felt rejected because the home life that she came out of and then being abandoned. See, women always struggle with abandonment issues and so their resort is to control. Men struggle with futility issues and so we try to compensate.
That’s why you can find a guy who is awesome at work or super in sports and completely passive at home. Because, honestly, ladies, you don’t really get this at all. Most of us men have no idea how to be a dad or how to be man or how to lead a family. And most of us didn’t have a dad who showed us much about it.
And so, yes, we are insecure and so you know more about God, more about the Bible, have you noticed anything in the last ten years? When people drive around together, have you noticed where men sit these days? In the passenger side. And if their young, with their hat on backwards. Really. I’m not being critical, I’m just saying, You know what? Women take the responsibility. They did the checkbook. Should we put them in this school? I do this, I do this, I do this.
And the guy has got his hat on backwards thinking, they can tell you how many points Steph has scored, what they are doing in fantasy football, but, boy, the hat is on. And, man, they are doing it at work. Why? Because they are compensating. And that’s why you have all those struggles at home. But we are learning how to break through those.
Notice in families too is false beliefs and games. Some of us learned early on that the games you played at home is if you performed well you got loved. So you perform in your marriage or you perform at work or perform with friends or some people learn when there’s a problem they withdraw. Or people learned early on to use sex as manipulation or power up.
All those are games that we play. All that is baggage that you bring into a relationship.
Communication, I remember we had just gotten married or right before we got married. But we were really serious. It was a done deal. It was what we were going to do.
And I remember we visited her family for some reason. And we are driving on these old country back roads and were becoming aware that I talk too much and she talked too little. So I got in the car and I thought, Okay, I am just going to wait for her to initiate the conversation.
And we’re driving, driving and there are cows and beautiful hills and she is looking out the window. And five minutes, ten minutes – internal self-talk – what in the heck is going on here? I am going to marry this person? Or, We just got married and she doesn’t even talk to me? Okay! Here’s how men think. I am going to wait. I am not going to say a word until she says a word. I’m going to find out just how long this can go. By forty minutes we are about there.
I’ll tell you what, when I get out of this car, she is going to get a piece of my mind. I’m just going to tell her, “Do you love me or not? What’s with you?” We had forty-five minutes together, we’re driving in this car, you don’t say a word? What kind of relationship is that?” I am fuming inside. I’m just ready to get, ooh boy.
And so forty-five minutes, we just get ready to get out of the car and she turns to me, “You know, Chip, did you just notice how beautiful it was on the drive? And the cows and the hills. God so speaks to me through nature. And I am so glad that because we are in love that we can be in the same car and not even have to talk.”
Fortunately, I didn’t speak.
Well, we had to work on that in marriage counseling. In fact it’s really unfair because I paid ninety-five dollars a session for twelve sessions and you’re going to get it for free.
But what I do want you to know: You are fallen. And your lens, your filter. I’m for you, I love you, but you are as fallen as I am. And that means the filter is you are selfish. You assume you are right and they are wrong. You want a win-win, but the win-win is eighty percent you, twenty percent them. But in your brain it’s the other way around.
And you are different. You’re really, really different than friends and bosses and co-workers and mates and boyfriends and girlfriends. You psychologically have completely different personalities.
And you are either a boy or a girl. You are either a male or a female. And there is an imprint, not just in your body parts but in your brain and how you process information and how you see the world, designed by God.
And you have baggage. And I remember sitting in a counseling session and hearing Theresa’s childhood through a new lens as we were just, boy, we so struggled. But we made a commitment that this is going to work. If it kills us. And at times I thought it might.
And I remember sitting in a counseling session and hearing what my wife went through and why she didn’t talk and why she fears rejection and all the pain that she had been through. And I had an “ah-ha” moment and I realized that I just needed to know. The answer is knowledge.
You need to know your friend. You need to not be superficial all the time. You need to ask questions. If you’re married, you need to get to know them. Some of you, you’ve been married twenty years, you don’t really know them. You need to ask questions about: What really makes you feel afraid? And why do you do that and why do you do that? And what was it like when you grew up? How did you feel about your dad? And when your parents divorced, do you think that has had any impact?
And I know, guys, we don’t want to go there. We just want to fix it, make it right. But shutting up is a great gift. And listening is a powerful gift. And when you understand, then you have some empathy. And when you have empathy and you realize, again, because you’re insecure, when she didn’t talk. You know what the problem was? It made me feel like, I’m sitting here thinking she doesn’t like me. Right? Isn’t that what you feel when people act? She doesn’t like me.
She was sitting there loving me. But in my brain she must not like me. Why? Because I’m insecure. Guess what? I’m still insecure. I’m going to be insecure until I see Jesus, but I can tell you this: I am more secure in Christ now than I was thirty years ago. I am more secure in Christ than I was five years ago. And I am more secure in Christ this year than I was last year because I am renewing my mind in God’s Word and I am listening and hearing.
And I am involved in community where I am getting real time feedback where the living Christ lives in people like you. And then I am taking that and I am going on mission and I am sharing that with other people.
And as I see the grace of God flow through my life and life change happened, it’s like confirmation: this is real. This is God. This is true. This is real love, not on a screen. This is real love, not an admiration. This is real love in real life.
Now we get to the good part. Are you ready? Have you got a pen? I want you to write this down. Here’s the very specific game plan. Number one: Receive God’s love. You can’t impart what you don’t possess. If you have never personally turned from your sin, trusted Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection to forgive you, to remove your shame, to take away the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and become a brand new person – receive God’s love.
It can be very informal, like, right now, in your seat, where you’re at, you talking to God, Oh, God, save me! Forgive me! I confess my sin, I believe You died for me and rose from the grave.
Second, pick one relationship to focus on this week. Just one. It could be a friend, it could be your boss, co-worker, brother, sister, a mom, a dad, a mate. Just choose. One person who you feel like, Whew, I’d really like real love to breakthrough.
Number three: Identify their primary love language. And this comes out of a book called The Five Languages of Love. Just ask yourself: If I was going to love them, would they resonate more with quality time or words of affirmation? Maybe I could jot them a note or a text every day. Or would be a gift or is it acts of service?
My wife, when I work around the house and help her with the yard or do the dishes or vacuum, believe me, it took me ten years to figure this out, she actually thinks that’s: “I love you.” Ha!
To me, here’s, “I love you”: Honey, it’s so good to see you. You are awesome! You are wonderful. Here, let me kiss you. See, it’s personal touch is my number one love language. Her number one love language is acts of service. Fortunately, quality time is number two for both of us.
So we all have, some of you, the most frustrating thing in the world is you are loving, you are doing kind acts, but you are loving in French and they can only speak German. So figure out what their love language is, identify that one person.
And then number four: Choose to love them in that way every day for the next seven days, regardless of how they respond. Write the word choose. Now, day number one it’ll be, Okay. Day number two, day number three, the expectation is, So, hey, is something coming back? No. Keep doing it.
Love is giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. It’s just a choice. It’s not about if something changes. Just choose to do it and you’ll see, you’ll begin to see God work and He will work in you.
Finally, here’s a summary: Real love requires supernatural power. See, there are barriers. You can’t do it. God designed it so we would say, God, we need your help! I’m dependent. Help me! And He will.
Second, real love is hard work. The biggest myth in all the media is if we really love each other, it’ll all work out. Errrgggg.
Three, real love is a choice, not a feeling. I’m all for good feelings. But real love is a choice. Jesus did not emotionally want to go to the cross. He chose to go there for you and for me.
And finally, real love is your greatest need and your greatest reward. It will always be worth it. You know why? Because you will die. I don’t know what you’re giving your life to, I don’t know what you do or why or how. But it’s about unconsciously or very consciously trying to get love and there’s a lot of pseudo love out there. Real love is your greatest need, but it will be the greatest reward in all the world.