Sunday, September 19, 2010

What is a real man?

Lately, a question has plagued me like no other question. It has settled in the depths of my stomach and has festered there. This pestering thought was actually stimulated by a conversation with a friend. However, it has been a couple of weeks since that initial conversation and my thoughts have fermented into, hopefully, a wise wine. This question was first asked to a group of us across the meal table. What makes a real man?

I was deeply disappointed in our ability to answer that question. The general consensus was simply "I don't know." Disappointment occasionally motivates me and so I began to think. I realized that there were many questions connected to that single question. What makes a real man? As a woman, how can I inspire men around me to be the best man that they can be? What characteristics are needed here? Is there actually a recipe to this question?

First of all, no man is equal. Therefore, each man has his own unique 'real man' qualities to discover and strengthen. However, that does not mean a man cannot learn patience if patience is not already his gift. We must realize if one were to try to name all the characteristics a man "should have," one would discover that they had just described God. Also, it's doubtful that a woman could inspire a man to true masculinity on her own. Sex might be inspiring, but it wouldn't inspire a true masculinity just a carnal response. It's easy to live a good life, but to live an inspirational life can only be acquired with the aid of Jesus.

Finally, during the length of a conversation with another friend, we talked about this 'real man' question. We came to a conclusion. Each of us already had men that we respected so we looked at them and asked, "why do we respect them?" Suddenly, the answer to this mind-boggling question seemed to be in grasp. There is no cookie cutter recipe for a real man. However, on the basis of this realization, a 'real' man is a reality. Namely, a real man is someone that can be respected in all areas of his life and lives above reproach.

Also, in my search for what a real man is, I googled the question like any true person of my generation would. I was both impressed and disappointed with what I found. What is a real man? Ten traits were listed. I would now like to take the liberty to add a bit of thought to these ten.

Trait #1 says, "A real man is strong." There is nothing wrong with this statement. And yet, I disagree with the print that backs up this phrase. Largely, I disagree with the statement, "A real man doesn't cry." Allow me to say that from a woman's perspective, I believe the biggest sign of strength is a man who can and does cry. This shows me that he is secure in who he is and is not afraid to show his true emotion. As this quote aptly states, "There is nothing so strong as gentleness, and nothing so gentle as real strength." Vulnerability is strength.

I would also like to respond to Trait #2 which states, "A real man is focused." Recently, I have noticed that a lot of men have no idea what they want in life. Not only are they confused, but they confuse those around them - namely, girls. Like butterflies, these men flit about from girl to girl. This is entirely unattractive unless the man actually embodies this insect. Yes, there are many beautiful flowers - I mean - girls in the world. However, why don't you save yourself and those gazillion girls from heartache by finding focus? If you don't know what you want, wait. You will surely figure it out.

"A real man can defend himself." aka Trait #10. I cannot agree more thoroughly with this one. I see plenty of potential leaders in the men about me. However, I don't see many who are willing to buck up and to take on a challenge. Hey, mistakes are scary. Yet, they are so very worth it. Those who are willing to fall on their faces a couple of times are so much more worthy of admiration especially when success comes because it will. So in the words of Mrs. Frizzle, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" Also, a real man not only defends himself but he defends others. The latter part of that statement actually may be more important than the former so take note. Defend others, men.

It's time. It's time for men to rise up. We have all grown weary of these poor examples of masculinity. Men being emasculated and women losing belief that real men do exist in the world is a sad reality. This is a reality that must be discarded. "Real" men do exist in the world. I have seen them.