Chris works as interior designer with Poggenpohl and has a heart of gold. He’s also wildly hilarious and insane even though he [sadly] reins it in for this interview. Follow his hilarity on Twitter at @chrismartine!
HMHW: What do you look for in a group of friends at this age?
Chris: I look for people who are passionate, wanting to challenge themselves, and are also determined in a way that enables them to pick themselves back up when they fail. I really just enjoy people that are really well-rounded in that regard. I enjoy a community of people who may not know everything, but are still willing to make mistakes and learn from it. I also look for people who share my same faith values – it’s not a requirement at all, but I think it’s really good to have people within and outside of your faith community. It gives more of an understanding of the world as a whole and not just a greenhouse.
HMHW: Fill in the blank: I am a closet _______ fan.
Chris: To be quite honest, a lot of people don’t know this about me but I’m a closet Joe Biden fan.
HMHW: You are?
Chris: I am. Even though I do identify myself as conservative, I definitely appreciate the liberal side of things because it does give you a very well-rounded perspective. Joe Biden is a Democrat but the things that he’s done are profound. Like the Stopping Violence Against Women Act – he was a huge proponent of that. Something I really respect about him is that he was actually voted one of the poorest senators. That gives him a really approachable, relatable perspective in my eyes.
HMHW: Do you have a type/believe in types?
Chris: I guess everyone has a type – some type of quality that they find in another person that’s consistent with their own goals. I think it’s important in terms of types, to find someone who shares the same type of goal system as you do.
HMHW: Do you have career goals? Do you see yourself remaining in the same career for the rest of your life?
Chris: Well, as you know, I’m an interior designer currently designing high-end kitchens. Eventually, I would like to own my own design firm. I would like to be, in a sense, a renaissance man in design – not just designing interiors but also playing around with graphic design and things like that. I believe that design isn’t limited to specific areas; I believe that it’s really just a problem-solving method. If you can creatively solve problems through design, then I don’t think you should be limited to one specific area.
I also have this conflicting thought about going to Seminary. People think it’s really strange, actually. One of my hobbies is reading the Bible – and that may sound cliché, but I really enjoy deep, theological understandings of things. And I’m not claiming to be a person that understands everything, but I really like to know and explore those things. I call it my William Wilberforce dilemma because he had to decide if he should stay in parliament or serve God. I do find a real serenity in doing interior design because there’s something about design that reaches into people’s behavioral elements. I find it really fascinating that design can help people understand faith as well.
HMHW: Do you feel like you’re held to an impossible standard of perfection, coming from women?
Chris: I think that at the beginning stages of people’s lives, there’s an idealistic standard that we try to look for in a future significant other. But I think that as you begin to mature, while you still hold on to those standards, there are some things you need to be careful with. There’s a very fine line between unrealistic standards and standards that can be met. For me, sometimes, I have idealistic standards of people and sometimes the things I say or do can make women feel like I’m looking for unattainable characteristics. At the same time, I believe that there are some unattainable standards that women place on men. For example, when women talk about their celebrity crushes, the men that are around during those types of conversations feel somewhat emasculated or overwhelmed by the fantasies women have that really can’t be attained. I think women have incredible power to affirm the men around them, because there isn’t enough communication on both ends so that we are aware of the expectations of each other. And if there’s no voice speaking out, then how are men to grow? But we have to find the middle ground between emasculating men and calling them to a higher, attainable standard.
HMHW: How valuable are friendships with other guys to you?
Chris: It’s hard to scale something like that, but I think it’s imperative that I have really strong relationships with my male friends. What guy friends do for a guy is hold him accountable, help him grow as a male, challenge him in ways that women can’t. My male friends are imperative not only to the health of my relationships, but to the health of my spiritual life as well.
HMHW: What about your friendships with women? Is it difficult at all to maintain friendships with women?
Chris: That’s a funny question because I never actually thought too much about that in the past. But my relationships with women now in this phase of life have been challenged quite a bit. There are things that I hadn’t thought in terms of my interaction with women until this current season in my life. I’m now thinking about guarding their hearts, and making sure I’m not leading them on. In college, it was all about friends and being funny around each other, and that was a huge growing experience for me. I’m currently learning what the proper and improper interactions are with women in regards to friendships. I’m realizing that I’m not a boy anymore; I’m a man – I’m twenty-five, and will be twenty-six this year. So I’m finding it more difficult to be friends with women because I want to make sure that I’m protecting them at the same time.
HMHW: What’s your definition of guarding your heart?
Chris: Like I said, I’m only just starting to realize this now. I’m still learning, I don’t have a specific, identified answer for it. It’s very new to my life.
HMHW: How do you make decisions about your future in this season of life? Has that changed from before?
Chris: As far as back as I can remember, there’s been this very interesting image that God has always placed in my mind. I’m walking with my hands in front of me; it’s foggy, and I’m grasping on to this wound up clock. And I’m walking through this fog, trusting that whatever this clock is leading me to is where God would have me. God has always put in my heart that he’s doing big things in my life, even though I’ve never really quite understood what that means. In making decisions I believe that if God has me in the palm of his hands, then whatever decision I make, he will guide me and lead me to where he wants me to be. One phrase that has really provided guidance especially in this new season of being out here on the East Coast is that “He is able”. I reflect on those three words a lot, because where I am not, he is able. No matter what mistakes or successes I have, as long as they are successes with the Lord and mistakes I’m refined through, then I’m happy wherever I’m at.
HMHW: What is your perception of the differences between masculinity and femininity? Do you think that it varies by gender or by person?
Chris: I do believe in biblical masculinity and femininity. I believe that they show us the true nature of what God intended for that to be. Society shows a forced concept of what God intended masculinity and femininity to be. In sports we see the hyper masculine, overly muscled, eat red meat, tear things up, abuse women, really aggressive portrait of masculinity. Not to say that some of those attributes are not okay, but I think we need to be very careful with biblical masculinity to see what God desires in that, not just what society says. I think biblical masculinity defines who men are, not the skewed, misguided perception of the world.
For the feminine aspect of it, I think society makes women feel gross about themselves, like they have to do everything to please men. It’s so frustrating to watch TV and see women portrayed as bimbos, unintelligent, or 17-year-olds who don’t care about the children that they have. I believe that women should be held in higher regard than that. God calls women to be the gem, the jewel of life but we don’t look at women as intelligent and strong and decision-makers. Biblical femininity does not equal weakness. I think that men and women are equal, they just have differing roles.
HMHW: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
Chris: It’s probably that I can survive on very little. As an American, it’s amazing how in college I filled my life with material possessions and life became overwhelming and unbearable. And my last year in college, God began to take those things away and teach me to get rid of the clutter in my life. When God was removing the material possessions from my life, he was replacing it with spiritual dependence on him. He’s given me neither riches nor poverty – he’s given me just enough. And that’s preparing me for something.
HMHW: Do you believe in the one? If you do, do you believe there were chosen for you or that they become the one when you choose them?
Chris: I really do believe that God predestines the person that we’re going to be with. Now I don’t believe that limits my ability to “choose”, but I think that God’s knowledge has a hand in my decisions because he knows. It’s like a parent who gives their child green beans, knowing fully well that they won’t choose the green beans. But he still gives it to them anyways, even though he already has an idea of what’s going to occur. I think God gives us these opportunities, knowing what we’re going to choose, but still letting us interact with these various options. And I also think that God has chosen singleness for some people as well. Something else I’ve been thinking about lately is Christians dating Christians. I think that if two people are following hard after God, then it doesn’t have to be this great mystery; they can date.
HMHW: What’s the best/worst advice you’ve ever been given on the topic of love and relationships?
Chris: One of the best things I’ve heard is to remain consistent. From what I’m starting to understand about women, I think that consistency is key to avoiding all the miscommunication between both genders. If you’re going to move forward, be consistent in the forward motion, and so on. The worst advice I’ve ever gotten is silence, in other words, no advice at all. There has been silence in communication to me and I don’t know how to react to that. People can react to negative and positive comments but it’s hard to know how to react to silence. Silence is probably the most devastating thing in the world.
HMHW: What kind of things challenge your masculinity?
Chris: Something that challenges my masculinity is being rushed. I process a lot and I don’t like to be rushed. As a man, I think that the decisions that I make are important and need thought and time. Sometimes things beg an answer, but I really feel challenged by not being able to have the time to express what I need to when I need to with decisions that I make. Also, when people show a lack of confidence in my decision-making, it really is challenging to me.
HMHW: What are your thoughts on modesty and its effect or lack thereof on daily life?
Chris: This is actually a very controversial topic in a way. For one, I don’t believe that whatever women wear should be looked at lustfully or catcalled by men. I think women should be able to have the freedom to dress how they want and not be harassed. But I also think that can also be really idealistic because men are men and women are women. And sometimes the decisions they make end up having negative consequences. I find it more sincere when a woman dresses well and doesn’t show everything because, if this is a woman that I’m going to marry, I don’t want her showing everything to everyone around. And I’d also like to think that I’m protecting some other guy’s future wife by being careful how I look at them. Because it’d break my heart when I get married to hear that the woman that I love had to endure that kind of degradation. I just think women should take care to make sure that they’re representing themselves in a way that they want to be known. The whole issue stems from a lack of respect of people.
HMHW: Do you believe in the ability to be ready for marriage? Do you have factors you think will indicate your readiness?
Chris: I do believe that. I think that psychologically and physically, you’ll know when you’re ready. And it’s different for each person. Especially for Christians, I think that if they’re spending time in the word, seeking wise counsel, being held accountable, and things like that – those would be good indicators of being ready.
HMHW: What are your opinions on pursuing/being pursued with regards to gender roles?
Chris: From what I’m learning now, I think that when a man starts hanging out with a woman, he needs to make his intentions very clear. I think that a way for men to show leadership is to take initiative in defining that. And if the man doesn’t understand what’s going on, I don’t think that it’s bad for the woman to say something because it will help that man grow in an area that maybe he hasn’t thought of before.
HMHW: What’s been the hardest part of being a 20-something?
Chris: I wish there had been a class in college on how to make friends outside of college.
HMHW: Amen to that!
Chris: I know that sounds strange because not everyone goes to college, and people are still making friends. But I think that there’s such an accessibility in the academic setting that is not the same outside of it. So it’s really hard to figure out how to build community when the people around you are doing and interested in different things than you are.