Ok, so this will be another post that doesn’t have a lot to do with the work I’m doing down here, so feel free to skip today if you want.
While I have been down here, I have had a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts. I know what you’re thinking; “Is this a good thing?” But bear with me for a minute here. One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately, is what makes a man? I’m not talking anatomy here. That’s easy. What I am referring to goes deeper. As I get older, this is the kind of stuff that matters to me. Being a man, I discover has nothing to do with how much money you have or what kind of car you drive, or anything like that. I already knew that, too, but it’s good to get that out of the way.
So what does make a man? That’s the $64,000 question. i think there are a lot of things that make up a man. For example, I think there are several things real men should know how to do. they should be able to do basic car maintenance. Check the fluid levels. Change your own oil/spark plugs. Change a tire. They should know how to cook a meal, and do their own laundry. They should know 4 basic knots that will save your butt 99% of the time you need to do something (the four are, by the way, the square knot, the clove hitch, the half hitch and the bowline.) They should know how to tie a tie. The should know how fire a gun (and most importantly, to do it SAFELY). They should be able to use basic tools properly (i.e.-a hammer, screwdriver, wrenches, a level.)
But being a man goes deeper than what you do. A lot of it is, no surprise, about character. Real men do what they say they will do. They are respectful to women and are good examples to children (and by all means, if you HAVE a child, wether you are married to the mother or not, that child is YOUR responsibility. Take care of it.) Real men also understand that raising good children involves discipline, both to them, and yourself. Real men understand hard work. Hard work doesn’t necessarily mean manual labor. Even if you’re a desk jockey, hard work means doing the work you were paid to do in a timely manner. Being a man means being a good steward. We should all leave the world better than we found it. Don’t litter. Recycle. Take care of what you do have, no matter how little or much. Being a real man means being thankful for what you have. It means striving to improve who you are as a person constantly. It means having a respect and awe for your Creator.
Now, I will be the first to admit I am not perfect on this 100%. But as I get older, I am starting to get this a lot more. Who I am and how I treat people is more important than what I do and how much money I have. The flip side is, of course, real women understand that. I have met plenty (and was even married to one) who didn’t get that (I look for different things in women now.) Thankfully, I have had several good teachers on how to be a man growing up. My dad. My grandpas. The Boy Scouts. The Bible. And while psychologists will dictate that broken homes have made it so fewer boys learn what it means to be a good man, I think we all need to eventually grow up and figure things out on our own if we expect to make it in this world. And like I said, if you father a child, you need to man up and be a dad to it. Each person can end a negative cycle, if they so choose. We are our own destinies. I have a lot of my father in me, but I am my own man. And though I am not married right now nor do I have children, I am practicing. I will hold a door open for a woman 100% of the time, even though I have been berated for it in the past (how dare you? I’m not helpless…). If I see a child doing something potentially harmful, I will stop them. My friends with kids know I am not above disciplining to a certain point (right Lenny and Molly?). I especially try to be a good role model to my friends with kids where the father isn’t involved. I also know part of being a good man involves giving of myself. My friends know that if they need help, whenever possible, I will drop what I am doing and lend a hand. I have fixed cars and houses and never asked for money (well, until I came to Haiti and needed money for the mission trip…but for my friends, I asked them to give what they felt led to give…I didn’t ask for a set amount. Though some of them insisted I had to name a price.) Ultimately I am reminded that relationships matter more than things, and how I act will either nurture or destroy those relationships. I will continue to strive to be a better man. That you can count on.
How can a mother not be proud of a son like this? I am so very proud of you. I love you.