(Written in September 2014)
I recently got a call from a man that was in the Air Force with me years (many years) ago. He just got back from his second tour of duty in in a combat zone and was having some trouble adjusting to his life here in the states. I won’t bore you with the details, but trust me when I say his problems are substantial. My heart broke for him as he described all his problems and his complete lack of confidence in what the future holds. I could relate somewhat since I struggle with many of the decisions I make on a daily basis and hope that if they aren’t the right ones that they are at least the least damaging ones.
The book “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge was the second book I recommended to him after the Bible. It is a book about men and God and how God made us. I pray that it helps him as much as it helped me. Our conversation raised the question, “What is a real man in today’s society?”
Have you ever heard a lady say “There just aren’t any good men left out there.”? I have. I still hear it quite often. When I do hear it, naturally I think of the men I look up to as leaders or mentors, men who I believe to be above reproach, role models for any man who is honest enough to realize that we should always strive to be better men. Men like my Uncle Frank, Pastor William Burcham, my cousin Mike, Sergeant Larry W. Brown, Major William T. Stinson and many others helped to shape my mental image of “real men.” None of them were violent . None were pro football players or reality show stars or President. But, they all had traits that I found to be very noble, and, in my heart, I always wanted to be like them.
I remember back in the late 70’s and 80’s how often I heard things like “Men should be gentle,” or “Men should be more sensitive.” You can likely remember these statements and many more like them. Of course, there is some truth and benefit to these statements in general terms; however, nowadays I am hearing things like “Where are all the real men?” I believe what the book says, in so many words, that many men live in a state of confusion as to what our true roles are in society today, and, that in itself, could be a dangerous thing. I, for one, can attest to living in a state of confusion most days. Just ask my wife.
The men that I consider real men are definitely caring, sensitive, thoughtful, romantic, etc. To hear their wives tell the story, they are everything a man should be. But, one thing they all have in common is that they are, in addition to all the “sweetie sweet” things,dangerous. They are dangerous in a very good way, the way God meant for men to be dangerous. That’s what the book Wild At Heart brought to light to me.
I don’t mean dangerous in the sense that they go around with a spear or club whacking people on the head at random, but just ask their wives what would happen if someone broke into their house and threatened their family. Ask her what would happen if the couple were walking out to their car from the mall and some gang walked up to threaten her. The women who are married to these “men” would all answer you in the same way, “Any threat would have to get through him before they could ever lay a hand on me.” These men don’t have to put on a show for the world but walk quietly in God’s favor and do the job that He put them on this earth to do. They protect, they serve, they provide, they love, and they will lay down their lives for the ones they love any second of any day. I think of my friend Janice Kay’s husband, Donnie. I have never met the man in person, but you can tell by the way she talks about him, by the way she lights up when she says his name, he’s a man to be reckoned with if you cross her. Donnie has had some medical issues over the past few years, and you can STILL see it in Janice’s eyes. He is a giant to her. That’s the reputation I want to have with my wife and girls.
I tell my wife and daughters that if a bear (literal or figurative) is threatening them, then it is my job to stand between them and that bear, no matter what risk there is to me (Lord I hope I never have to literally prove that). They tell me not only that, but that it is also my job to shut up and listen when they need someone to care for them and their troubles. As Jesse Hamby puts it so well, “They just need someone to listen; they don’t necessarily want you to fix it.” So, they teach me every day how to be more sensitive and caring. That is a really good thing. But, at the end of the day, I want them to know that when it really counts I will not only be sensitive and all those other “ooey- gooey”things, but that I will also be dangerous for them, not to them, but for them.
Thanks for reading. God bless you and keep you.