I am tired of young women not feeling safe. All women, in fact. I'm tired of them being unappreciated, mistreated, abused, lied to, taken advantage of, and taken for granted. I'm worn out with all the young men who aren't taking life seriously and who refuse to 'get in the saddle' when it comes to love, marriage, and family.
After talking with my husband about this, he woke me up when he said, "the problem is that these guys are not sure-footed." Wow! Instant imagery came to my mind like a movie. He was right. What is the difference between a young man who meets the right girl and finds a way to make things work so they can get married and start their journey together and the guy who just keeps jumping from girl to girl, dating some for several months before dumping them and others only once or twice, refusing to take things seriously? What about the guy who is pretending to date, but is really still hanging out with his buddies, but brings a girl along once in a while? What about the one that likes a girl, a lot, but still 'breaks it off' so they can 'be friends,' thus avoiding responsibility? He still gets the benefit of her company, but he is suddenly relieved of any pressure in the relationship.
I have decided that real men, sure-footed ones, are hard to find anymore. So many young men are playing around, refusing to set goals and achieve them, delaying important decisions about marriage and family, and just trying to extend their childhood for longer and longer. They insist on group dates, but they are in their 20's. They don't call, they text. They won't buy a girl a present or send a card. They don't realize that dating doesn't have to be expensive, but it does require some thoughtful planning. They are putting their lives on hold for 'someday,' which for them may never come.
Last December, our family went on an adventure to the Dominican Republic where our son had served his mission for our church. It was an amazing, forever life-changing trip. We saw such beautiful people and breath-taking scenery, ate such delicious food I never wanted to come home, and swam in a turquoise sea. One of the things we did was ride horses to see a waterfall. We needed horses and guides to take us on the treacherous trail. The waterfall was nestled deep in the forested jungle at the end of a dangerous trail that crossed a river twice and was covered in clay and giant, slippery rocks.
It was a beautiful, sunny, Caribbean morning. The humidity was 100% and the heat was 85 degrees F. We left the hotel and hired a little broken-down taxi to take us to where the horses were. After seeing the horses and meeting the guides, we paid our pesos and were ready to go. I was a little concerned because the horses were skinny, without any shoes, and only blankets tied on with ropes instead of saddles. Our guides were small, sweet, Dominican men with big, happy smiles. They chose the horses for each of us and who would be our guides. Soon we were each on our horses, ready for the trail.
At first the trail was just a steady, even slope. Quickly the terrain changed and the trail was very steep, with large and smooth stones covered in wet clay. It was very slippery. I was feeling terribly guilty that we were on these horses while the little guides were trudging through the slippery mud and on the clay-covered stones. They just smiled and gently followed the horses, whistling once in a while, or swatting the horses on the backside with a bundle of grass.
We crossed the river and the horses stopped to take a long drink. It was pleasant and cool there in the river, but soon it was time to make the ascent back up the slippery trail. In some places the trail was almost a vertical slope, it was so steep. Large, jagged rocks covered with sticky clay looked like a disaster to me. The horses lunged forward to keep our weight properly balanced. They knew the trail and exactly where to hug the edges, where to gather speed to gain momentum, and where to take it slowly and carefully. The guides were not leading the horses. The horses were in front with the guides behind. The guides were simply encouraging the horses in a loving way with kissing sounds and swats on the behind with their plumes of grass. The horses just needed the positive encouragement to get up the rough and rocky mountain.
We finally reached what appeared to be our destination, only to have the guides show us the waterfall, still off in the distance. We were told the horses could go no further and we would have to hike the rest of the way. When we saw the trail before us, a straight decline of very steep and muddy rocks, I started to wonder how this was going to happen. The guides said they would go the rest of the way with us, to help us on the dangerous trail. We were not accustomed to it, but they seemed to glide over the danger with ease. My little guide was in tune with me needing some extra help. We had been staying on the coast where the heat was not as intense and there was a steady ocean breeze, but here in the mountains, it was intensely hot and humid. My heart was truly pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest. Papa held my hand the whole way down the trail. He moved things out of my way and pointed to the safer places to put my feet. Papa was an old man with ragged clothes, but he smiled bigger than I have ever seen and kept calling me Senorita.
It was an exhilarating experience to be so close to danger. It was both terrifying and exciting to know that if any one of us fell off our horse, we would probably be killed. We were in a third-world country, tucked away deeply in the jungle, and hours away from Santo Domingo and any hospital. Even though I am prone to be anxious, I never worried while on that horse. I trusted him and I trusted Papa. They both knew the way. I wasn't anxious for my family because I trusted their horses and their guides. I also trusted God. I felt deep humility in that place, with our new friends, surrounded by the Lord's creations. They had made me feel safe because they were sure-footed.
Well, what does a sure-footed horse and a sweet Dominican guide have to do with dating and marriage? It has everything to do with it. To you sweet young ladies, watch and wait for the sure-footed horse who trusts his sure-footed guide. For you young men, make sure to be the sure-footed horse and trust your sure-footed guide.
Women need to feel safe. We need to know that you are not looking at other girls. If you love us, you shouldn't even see other women. We need to know that when you find us and know you love us, that you will want to make us yours and protect us. We don't want to have to worry about whether or not you are confident enough to lead our family. We want to know you are ready for marriage and a family, to make the sacrifices with us and for us that will help make our family successful. We need to feel safe with you and know that you will never put us in harm's way, talk badly about us to your friends or mother, or find reasons to be away from home. We need to know that you are worthy of the guide behind you, the one who knows the trail even better than you do, and the one that ultimately is cheering for our safe return, together. When we find the horse that is sure-footed, we will know, immediately. All sense of anxiety will be lost. All fear will be gone. We will feel at peace with you and know you love us because you will show us by your actions and your words. We will feel safe because you know your guide and you trust Him. We will want to be only with you because of how good you make us feel.
If you are sure-footed:
- You are prayerful in your quest to find a good girl.
- You are humble and recognize God's hand in helping you recognize her.
- You are prepared to take steps to move forward with marriage and a family.
- You aren't afraid of getting married; you want to be married and you want a family.
- You have faith that together you can figure things out so you can start your life together.
- You won't insist on inviting her to hang out with your friends and you realize that group dates are for high-school kids.
- You have goals and plans to achieve them.
- You are careful with your money.
- You know how to work and you work hard.
- You know you are a Child of God, that you are valuable to Him, and that He needs you to be a righteous and obedient example.
- You have a desire to serve God and your fellowmen.
- You have clean hands and a clean mind.
- You have a loving and soft heart and want to be good.
- People look up to you because of the way you make them feel.
- You have hope for the future.
Young men, take courage! You are good and you are strong. You are working hard and you are accomplishing great things. Please let finding a sweet, happy, smart, modest, educated, young woman a priority. Please stop listening to the world tell you what is important. The only thing that will matter when we are gone from this world is our family relationships and our obedience to God's commandments, our testimony of Christ, and our service to others. Please have hope that you are confident enough to help that special girl along the way. She can't make it without you. She needs a partner; a sure-footed, strong, faithful, committed partner to compliment her and who she can compliment. She wants to help you. She wants to find you, too.
Next time you see a girl you're interested in, take action. Ask her out. If you like her, ask her out again, and again, and again. Talk about deep things. Get to know her heart. Appreciate her gifts and talents. Encourage her to be her best. Take walks. Write her a letter. Look at the stars. Tell her your dreams and plans and ask about hers. Get interested in her life and get her interested in yours. Talk about the future. Make plans together. Work things out and buy a ring---a real diamond, even if it's small, and real gold. Don't start life together with a fake ring. And propose! If you're a sure-footed guy that makes her feel safe and she loves you and you love her, she will say yes. Then you can have the magnificent experience of joining with another person and starting a new life together. It is God's plan. It is God's commandment. It is God's way.
When I met my sure-footed horse, I knew him because he was different. He wasn't like all the other boys who only wanted to make out or watch TV. He treated me with respect and made me happy. He made me feel safe. He became my sure-footed husband, who continuously and unselfishly is always helping me and our children feel safe. I know he loves me, that I'm the only woman he sees, that he wants to be with me when he isn't, and that he still has bright dreams and hopes for our future together. He is my sure-footed prince, my trusted friend who trusts our Guide and is helping me, walking along next to me, on our journey up this trail of life. He leads our family by example and love. He loves us and protects us. I love him with all my heart. I know if we all do our part, we can all make it safely back to live with God.
Ladies, hold on and wait, for the man that is sure-footed. If you are prepared to recognize him, you will know him when you meet him.
Young men, be sure-footed. Trust your Guide. Be about doing good. Be prepared and humble and when you meet that special girl, you will know her. Then lead her safely home.