"Learning to be loved, and learning to love, learning to be romanced, and learning to romance - that is what this stage is all about." (p. 216)
Although it might be a nice, easy cop out to simply post that quote by Eldredge and move on to the mighty King-dom, I think this chapter/stage deserves a little more commentary. Mainly because it's so hard for MEN to think about being loved and romanced (especially the latter).
There's no doubt that thinking about God the Father makes it difficult to consider that He wants to romance a dude. Honestly, it sounds weird just reading it; but the reality is that God wants to show his love for us just like we want to romance our wives (and yes ladies, we do want to, we just might not do a very good job at it!). When He romances us, he's speaking to our hearts in a manner that appeals to our emotions and makes us feel loved and special, just like the woman in each of our lives wants to feel.
I think the above quote by the author falls short in that it needs a little more specificity. We need to learn to be loved and romanced by God before we can learn to truly love Him and love others (especially a woman). Just as love is a two-way street, so too is romance. I think we can romance God in return by pursuing him through prayer, reading of scripture, and our interaction with others. Just as the greatest commandment tells us to love God and love others, we have got to focus on loving God first. Through this relationship, our love can carry over into relationships with other people.
When I first began the pursuit of winning the heart of my beautiful bride (who's half a day short of going three days w/o puking!), she felt romanced through my daily walk with Christ. By putting that relationship above our's, it showed Leslie my priorities and enabled her to feel comfortable about me being the leader in our future family. Conversely, through my relationship with Him and the love I showed towards Leslie, I was romancing God.
I know this might sound kind of sappy and cheesy to you men, but scripture confirms how we should uphold this mentality and lifestyle. Look at the writings of the Psalmist, the poetry and songs he wrote to express his intoxicating love for the Creator. This is a man who had taken down the biggest, baddest dude in the land; had lived the life of a rambler in the wild to avoid being slain by the King of Israel; and will forever be known as the man after God's own heart. Think about that for a minute, a man who pursued the heart of God!
Our culture, with all it's masculinity and hardheadedness, should not overshadow the type of relationship we as men are called to have with God. Most importantly, I firmly believe that the strength of our relationship with Him will forever strengthen our marriages and the bonds of brotherhood with other believers. That's the kind of life I want to have.
P.S. Happy Father's Day to all you dad's out there...and the dad's to be like me!