Since I did a post celebrating all women and how we ‘parent’ regardless of our biological child status, it seems only fair to do the same for men. I’ve had many men in my life who represent true manhood. Let me define ‘true manhood.’
My father grew up in Manchester, England, with a father who typified Northern English manhood. He was stern, distant and unemotional. He died when my dad was 8. My dad lived through WWII in England and survived the aftermath before immigrating to the United States. He could have become a stern, distant man. Instead, he embodied compassion to me when we visited relatives in Texas one year. We always stopped in my mom’s childhood town to visit Elizabeth who cleaned and cooked for my mom’s family. This one year, Elizabeth wanted to buy a used car and asked my dad to check it out for her. Elizabeth needed a better car to take her ailing mother to doctor’s appointments. My dad gave his ‘okay’ after looking over the car, then before we left Elizabeth, he gave her the rest of the money she needed to buy it. When he and my mom discussed it, he said that he didn’t want Elizabeth to wait until she could save up the rest of the money–she had already made a couple of payments to ‘hold’ the car from the woman selling it. My father embodies ‘true manhood’ with his compassion.
John Mark pastored a church in Alabama. I’ve mentioned the congregation in a previous post–‘holiness’ people on one side of the aisle, AA people on the other side. I can’t imagine how John Mark walked that tightrope and led such differing people! He tempered the ‘holiness’ people with grace and gave the AA people boundaries. Two pastors remind my heart that God really does make His home with us. Tom, who married Jud and I, and John Mark. Having the ability to make both ‘holiness’ and AA people feel accepted and at home while defending truth and grace, John Mark embodied ‘true manhood.’
My sons remind me that youth, also, man-up. Both J and Jon have hearts that break for injustice. I’ve watched them both stand up in different ways for people that society disapproves. My heart swells with pride when I hear their stories and they don’t know how much their efforts mean. Their hearts make their actions natural and without arrogance. Their humility and natural way of living embodies ‘true manhood.’
And, of course, Jud. His respect of all people and cultures, his openness to new thoughts and his desire to always grow in character, knowledge and wisdom makes me want to be a better person. His ability to speak kindly and steadily has helped my impetuous nature become a little more intentional (no small task on his part!). I remember one time, a friend asked several of us to offer counsel on a job opportunity he was considering. All of us had vocal opinions. Except Jud. For about an hour, we all dissected the options from every angle. It reminds me of putting a puzzle together. We all had our pieces, but didn’t know where to put them–or even what the puzzle picture looked like. Jud listened. Especially to our friend. After the lengthy discussion where nothing showed our friend clarity, we needed to leave. But, before we left, Jud spoke amazing wisdom to our friend’s character and then proceeded to put all the puzzle pieces from the discussion together. The rest of us, our mouths gaping, sat in silence and awe until he finished. His ability to assess situations and speak wisdom into them embodies ‘true manhood.’
So, for all the men out there who have ‘fathered’ others–biological children, step-children, adopted children, teens, adults, and those of us who have yet to outgrow the sophomoric phases–I honor you! Those of you who are unsung because you live your life quietly, with integrity and compassion, I applaud you. Those of you who don’t fit into the ‘stereotypical’ mold of what a manly man is and haven’t always felt respected, yet you keep living your life by respecting others, I weep in gratitude. For all the unsung men and all the sung men who strive to make our world a more just, kind, generous place for the coming generations, today is your day! May you feel CELEBRATED!!