Near the end of Nov, 2013, I received my latest "bullying", familial abuse, attempt at public humiliation… call it what we will… when a member of family declared in contempt and anger they "would slap my face and show me what a man really is".
Of course, this is discourse which has followed my childhood, helped lead me into the den of the perpetrators, and even lead to my poor private decisions in adulthood. I have spent more than a fair amount of time the past weeks thinking about the remark. What is a man? When do you achieve manhood?
I will start with my first thoughts. And forgive me if I get too personal with my thoughts, but it is MS…
My sons. Both of my sons have grown to be loving, giving, honest men of compassion. Both have a heart to serve the greater need. One is an officer, risking his life every day for the average person on the street. He has held the dying victim in his arms, he has arrested the abuser who hurt, beat, or sexually assaulted the kid, he watches over me constantly- and thinks I don't know. He has been assaulted, shot at, and still he smiles, stands tall, and continues serving.
The other is a warrior of prayer- if you will. He serves the poor, the needy, he lifts up the downtrodden and hopefully he prays diligently for his brother. He is gifted with remarkable ability for computer video graphics, and creates some of the most moving for his ministry I have ever seen.
These are the men of my life. These are the REAL MEN that have touched my heart and let me see that manhood is not abuse. They are fathers that any child would be fortunate to have. They are husbands who can cook, clean, whatever it takes. Manhood does not mean belittling someone else, or threatening someone else in order to be "manly". Manhood is the state you reach when your actions can be lifted up, held forth as an example of what a good spirit can do.
I am so thankful I had limited the exposure these men had to my family of origin when they were young. Thankful they don't really know their uncles, barely knowing their grandmother. I am so thankful they really don't know what abuse is, what sexual assault is. I am thankful they have never experienced the ugliness I was exposed to. And I am thankful that somehow, through the dimness of my own personal shadows of the past, that I somehow managed to display to my sons what a man should be. A man should be "love". That's what a man should be. Love. His family, his friends, his world.
The latest episode of the abusive family I am from has simply concreted for me that I am "a man". I need only look at my sons when I doubt. Unfortunately, I have been doubting quite a bit lately.
I am just wondering what you might think a man is and perhaps if there was someone who exemplified those attributes… care to share?
For now we see through a glass, darkly.