I wonder how many men have written to me about their short-term relationships. They speak of anger, distrust, fear, and other significant issues.
I spoke to a man after a meeting in Grand Rapids. With tears in his eyes, he asked, "Will I ever find someone who loves me no matter what?"
I wish I could have yelled, "Certainly! Yes!"
He's suspicious of people and said it was a big risk for him to talk to me. "But you don't know my name and you'll never see me again, so I guess you're safe."
That's when tears came to my eyes. I understood his inability to trust, although his issue was certainly deeper than the matter of trust. As we talked he told me about his abuse and then hurried on to say that he had been in six relationships in less than two years. "At first, I was sure each one would last. I wanted each one to last—I really did."
"What happened?" I asked.
He shrugged. "They let me down. They betrayed me and told lies about me." He went into detail about his last affair. He wasn't able to acknowledge anything as being his fault. He was always the victim.
I could think of many things to say, and I started with a few suggestions. Occasionally he nodded; a few times he smiled. But whenever I paused, he said, "Yes, that's true, but. . . "
Finally I stopped. I had been speaking about practical things he could do but I realized that my words weren't what he needed. "May I hug you?" I asked.
He nodded and I warmly embraced him and held him for several seconds. "You don't need instructions," I said. "You need to feel loved and cared for, don't you?"
He pulled away, mumbled his thanks, and hurried away.
He was right: I didn't know his name. Most likely I'll never see him again. That evening I put him on my daily prayer list. I didn't have a name but I had a memory of a man with tears in his eyes. I've been praying for him daily for more than four months. I don't intend to stop praying.
I can't do anything for him.
But God can.
And God can use other people in his life. I wish I were able to be one of them.