The Matter of Men
I have overheard a few comments this past week that have got me thinking:
“Men are just as insecure as women, maybe more so.” ~My mom
“Most men are insecure; reducing women helps them feel more powerful.” ~Kris Vallotton
“I told my daughter that she can keep the gender of the baby secret if it’s a boy, but if it’s a girl, I’m going to need to know as soon as possible.” ~Random woman at a craft show
This last quote got me thinking the most because I think it captures an undertone I see too often. If it’s a girl, I am going to want to prepare more by buying cute clothes and decorating her room nicely. Even from such a young age, the outward appearance of a girl seems to be highlighted and celebrated. We get excited about little bows, ruffle butts, and huge flowers on their heads. Because, let’s be honest, all of those things are ridiculously cute.
I understand I am generalizing a lot here, I know I am not speaking for everyone. I am merely reflecting on a common sentiment I see floating around. I have bought into it myself, at times, and I am just now wondering how I feel about it.
As I have sat and thought about how I would share the news that we are having a boy, I have worried about people’s reactions. I have worried that people wouldn’t be as excited for us as they would if we said we would having a girl. It’s all nice to say I shouldn’t care what people think. And for the most part, God has freed me from caring what others think, but I still have to fight sometimes.
One of the ways I am fighting is by unpacking why it is that I would perceive less excitement about a boy than I would about a girl. Does the issue lie solely in my own heart, or is there a an unhealthy mindset that has woven its way into our society at large? Probably both.
I may not be able to change the mindset of an entire generation, but I can make sure that my heart is in the right place. I do think we need to celebrate men more. I know this sounds crazy as we are still fighting hard for women’s rights and equality. We have yet to see fairness in the workplace and women are still treated terribly in a lot of ways. However, the solution is not to tear men down. The solution is to raise men up. As men become the men God created them to be, women’s situations become better.
I would love to share with you the work that God has done in my heart. When I first learned that we were having Joshua (our second born, and first son), I was a little disappointed. I teared up when I went to relieve myself after an ultrasound with a full blatter. Even though God had made it clear that our second-born would be a boy through a series of miraculous and wonderful things, I still found myself wishing his plan might be different. I wanted all girls.
It is always a little worrisome to be honest about these types of things because I would not want, for a second, to communicate that I did not want my son, nor that I was not/am not thankful to have him. This could not be further from the truth. I now realize what a genius God is. I could not be more thankful for my son – and second son on the way. Before I could realize this, God needed to do some work in my heart, work that needed to be done regardless, and he used becoming a mom of a little boy to accomplish that work.
I grew up with a single mom. It was her and I to face the world, with all its challenges and joys. I learned so much from my mom, all good things, but she is not a man. She could not teach me how to interact with boys or men because she is a woman. I spent the majority of my growing up years very timid and shy around people of the opposite sex because I had no clue how to relate to them or interact with them.
So the thought of having a boy frankly overwhelmed me. I worried about my ability to mother this little boy well. I worried that I would not know what to do, how to act, or that I would some how screw him up. I also worried that he would be crazy and my life would become chaotic. I worried a lot at first.
Then I snuggled Joshua for the first time, and the worries faded to the background, but that is not to say that it has been easy. I was peed on and spit up on more times than I could ever count, yet this boy has been the biggest blessing. He is 100% boy. He loves to be active and do anything sports-related. He is a warrior at heart. He offers to fight (and punch out, and shoot, and kick, and knock down) any bad guy that might come our way. These are just some of the amazing things in him that I can not explain. I have never “trained” these things into him. He has been made by God to be a fighter (in a good way), to offer his strength to anyone who needs it, to enjoy life in an unbridled way, and to also have tender moments where he comes to me for reassurance that I will always love him no matter how many times he messes up. He is a boy. He will be a man one day.
There are a lot of wonderful men on this planet. My husband is my favorite (no offense to all the other amazing men out there – I know a lot of good ones). If you know me at all, I hope you know that I think the world of my husband. This has not always been the case. For the first few years of our marriage, I really thought I was better than him, and I was always looking for him to step it up. After God convicted me of my arrogance and encouraged me to start focusing on my husband’s strengths instead of his weaknesses, an amazing thing happened. I started to genuinely respect my husband. Then I started to notice more things I admired about him, and my respect grew. As my husband received my respect, he also was growing into more and more of a man I respect. It became easier to respect him, both because I was better practiced at respecting him and because he was becoming more of a man that is easy to respect. I can honestly say that I have the best husband on the planet. Here are some of the reasons why:
Todd understands and celebrates the beauty of severanthood. My husband loves me and our kids so selflessly. He is always thinking of ways that he can die to himself so that he can bless us. He does this by taking the kids outside to play so I can have a couple moments of quiet. He brings home special treats for the kids or for me to let us know he is thinking of us when he is not with us. He says, “No,” to things he would really enjoy when he knows that we (myself or the kids) really need him around. He does the dishes. Seriously, I HATE doing the dishes and he knows this, so every time he does the dishes, I do a happy dance inside. He figures out how to fix things and is not too proud to ask for help. He tells me he loves me daily. He spends quality time with our kids. He offers ideas about things he would like to change in our family so that we can become a greater family unit. He encourages me to pursue the things I am passionate about. He makes time and space for me to do those things. He is mindful of me and of our kids and careful to not put himself or his needs above ours. He loves us well.
This was, by no means, an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you an idea of some of the ways Todd makes it easy for me to respect him. There were many times that I had to choose to believe that Todd’s heart wanted to be doing all these things long before he knew how to put them into practice. Thankfully, he has also done the same with me and my weaknesses. I am a happily married woman and I want to celebrate that – not to make anyone who is struggling in their marriage feel bad but rather to offer hope. It is sometimes easier to complain than to celebrate, to see the bad instead of the good, to compare and find your situation less than.
Good marriages do not just happen. They take intentionality and work. One of the foundations to a good marriage is for the wife to respect her man and to accept him and celebrate who he is without a “fix-it list.”
I’d be willing to bet that your man is more insecure than he lets on or than you may be aware. Men and women wear their insecurities very differently, and that is why I think men’s insecurities tend to fly under the radar. Men cover their insecurities with pride, achievement, putting others down, apathy, and anger, just to name a few. I challenge you, if you are really struggling with a man in your life (husband or other), to take a moment to carefully examine the things that are bothering you most about him. I’d be willing to bet that behind the frustrating behavior (or lack of behavior) is a cover-up for a man who is afraid he is not measuring up. I’d be willing to bet that your man WANTS to be a great man, husband, and dad, but he fears failure. He fears not being good enough, and if you have ever reinforced his fear, you might be inadvertantly making it more difficult for him to become the man God has called him to be (the man you want him to be). He needs your prayers AND your encouragement.
I am beyond excited and grateful that I have the opportunity to raise TWO boys. I am so thankful that my boys (and my daughter) have such an amazing example of what it means to be a man, a good man. I pray God continues to open my eyes to be able to celebrate the men in my life, and I pray he guides me as I play my unique role in helping the men in my life be all that God created them to be.