A Real Man

I asked the ladies to tell me what they looked for in a man, because so many guys say they are men, but not all are living up to the challenge. And I was asked to share what I thought being a man represented.

For me, MANHOOD is a challenge, that many males struggle to achieve because the mantle requires a life of selflessness and service to those around you.

Ever since I was a child, I had this idea of what a man was supposed to be. The thing that stuck out most was that a man was supposed to be present (protector) as well as a provider. This was my prevailing attitude for many years in large part because my father, while a part of the family, was not present as much as I liked (he was busy "running the streets") and he was not the provider that I could count on, my mom was. So, in many ways manhood has meant being responsible, it has meant being present for my wife and my kids, it has meant that you take care of your family by any means necessary. For me, there is no excuse for not stepping up, you can't blame "the man", the economy, nothing. I will take a job that most consider "beneath them" if it helps me provide for my family. That attitude, while it may appear great, led me to run after the money for a number of years. It also caused me to wear myself out trying to provide a lifestyle for my family that was foreign to me as a kid.

As I matured, I came into the knowledge that the man is also supposed to be the spiritual head of his house. I admit, I'm good at going to church and being a good guy, but I fall short on consistently reading the word and praying everyday. I just have never developed that type of regimen. I have tried many times over the years, but at best, I was consistent in my attendance at church and bible study. I have instituted Sunday morning family prayer (a practice I learned from my Grandfather) but other than that, I just try my best to live right. Being a good example does have it's challenges, since I do like music that some Christians deem secular, but my life works for me.

Manhood has also meant taking unpopular stances. This has been the hardest for me, at least in the last few years because it is extremely uncomfortable and lonely. Standing for what's right, led me to leave my church after years of attendance because I realized that creating a family legacy meant more to my Pastor than doing what was right in God's sight. As much as I love the man, I have to stand on the side of right and not support the manipulation that is taking place by his hands. Standing for what's right has also put me at odds with friends over the years. I will admit that in a couple of instances I let my anger get the best of me and I dogged some opposing parties out in the process. That wasn't right, and I have apologized and asked for forgiveness, but my original stance has always been based on standing for what is right. Standing for what is right is also problematic because I also struggle to do what's right at times. However, I have found that I can never do wrong, for long. Eventually, usually sooner than later, I will stand on the side of right, even if it means breaking codes and standing alone. So manhood has been about standing for right, even if I have to stand alone or in the face of ridicule, resentment and hatred.

Manhood has meant coming to terms with my feelings, releasing them and sharing them freely with my wife. Allowing myself to be transparent to my wife has been hard. I'm a strong person. I don't like to show weakness. I throw myself into my work whenever I'm going through something, so while that makes me effective at getting things accomplished it makes me horrible at developing intimacy in my relationship. I'm great a good sex, but intimacy is another matter altogether, but I'm working on it. The men around me didn't express themselves in loving manners. I didn't see love expressed openly. I saw sexual expressions of love (tapping on the behind, a hug here and there) but that is about it. I never heard a lot of "I love you's", but my wife is stretching me in that area. It's interesting, I have absolutely no problem smothering my children with affection, but I'm reserved with my wife. Not to the point that we don't have a loving relationship, but I hold back enough to know she wants more of me. So being a man has meant learning to love my woman tenderly while maintaining my strong demeanor for the rest of the world.

Being a man has meant learning to be comfortable with all eyes on me. Sometimes I feel like I can't do a thing without it being placed under a microscope. I have to represent at work, because I'm one of few black men in the IT department. I have to take my place of leadership in the community to stand in the gap for all the men who are MIA. As a mentor to other young men in my life I have to be careful of the image I reflect because I know they are looking for answers. I have to do what's right because I want my kids to see truth in me if in no one else. And most important, I don't want to let ME down, because I have always wanted to be the type of man other people love, respect, and come to hold in high regard. At times the mantle is heavy, but I realize that being a man is an honor. And for those reasons, I shall continue to remove the layers, because being a man requires me to do so.

That, is what being a man means to me.


Shai said...

Thanks for your open honesty. It takes a REAL man to be that open. It gave me insight on you and confirmed some things I "sensed" about you.

That is wonderful you are stretching instead of resisting the intimacy your wife wants. Many a marriage has ended because of resistence.

Wonderful post, Mr. Rich.

Mega Rich said...

One thing I've learned is that we can learn from everyone and a lot of times we are silent because we think people will look at us funny, but everyone is struggling with something. Some women may be dealing with a man who responds like myself and think he doesn't love her, when in fact he does. He's just loving in the manner that is most comfortable with him or the only way he knows how.

Shai said...

I agree. It has been hard for me discerning if a man if real or playing games. My heart says one thing and my gut says another, then my brain sits there wondering. If you can understand that.

For many women, the differences they have with men are SO confusing. Does he really love or is he a jerk? Then sometimes when he is a jerk, some of us how on thinking we are overreacting.
It is not an easy task.

Mega Rich said...

Follow the Holy Spirit. If you don't have that - follow your instincts. The heart is tricky at best.

Shai said...

I feel ya Rich. It is all a learning process for me. All of us have gotten caught and had to learn and still we make mistakes. I am not ignoring those mistakes.

Anonymous said...

What an excellent treatise on being a man. If nothing else, it points out that it is one's own life experience that shapes the very definition and that by nature, it will vary from person to person.

I find that mine (definition) aligns with yours.

Brother you are an excellent and indispensible forum facillitator. It's a privilege to read your stuff and the ensuing discussions.

Mega Rich said...

@sojourner - it's brothers like yourself whose poetic prose causes us to look at the mirror's image and decide if we like what we see. When we don't, we must have the courage to confront it, and make changes.

You are also right about our past shaping our present, which explains why some men fall short of the expectation presented to them by their women and children. I'm able to see more clearly why some just don't have the intestinal fortitude to move beyond their present set of circumstances -- the deposits were never made when they were growing up. It also shows me know that we have to continue making deposits into each other by sharing our real stories. Despite how we think it makes us look.

CapCity said...

Standing for right can be tough - when "right" can be a slippery, sandy slope. Sometimes "right" depends on the angle that U look at a thing. For example - is it "right" to steal? Not to me - but then I've never been: so broke that I don't have food to eat, a victim of such a tragedy as Hurricane Katrina, etc.

Great post, Rich. I feel thankful and blessed that my father IS a STRONG example of a REAL Man and I KNOW it's been tough for him!
Keep striving for the ideal!

Mizrepresent said...

Everything you stand for is a great example of a man. And it think it is wonderful that you are willing to stretch and bend, because that is so important in a marriage. It is also not easy siding with your beliefs above all, and above others, sometimes as you said not the popular place to be...but if you are prayerful, and a faithful servant...then in the end, all will prove fruitful.

MysTery said...

I respect you being so open and honest. Some people aren't even willing to admit their weaknesses.

Good post.

Divatude said...

Dang you have some good post!! But on the real, when I was told that the baby growing inside of me was a boy I was scared as hell. My father is a great man and great provided. I have no brothers so I don't know what it's like to grow up with guys. So I look to my left and I see my husband and the fear of having a son went away. My hubsand is what I call a man. By any mean necessary is what he will do to make sure that his family has what they need, not what they want. We always keep GOD first in our lives and in our son live. I know that my husband will raise and teach our son to be a man.

KimPossible said...

Okay, I am just seeing all of your post. I just realized why I was only seeing the FRONTIN blog you posted when I was 2, LOL! I had the wrong link to your blog on my blog roll. Which is what I always click on to get to your blog. Anywho, I hope you understand what I am saying.

Getting to the blog: WOW! It is good to see men be open, honest and vulnerable. Most men look at that as being soft or weak. The qualities you have is what every man needs. That is what drew me to my husband. He loved God first and he was a man of true character and integrity. What you talk about in this post sounds just like my husband. In that he doesn't like to show me his emotions either. But over this nine year period I have watched him blossom in this area. He tells me exactly how he is feeling now and he knows that what he shares is safe with me and I'm not going to judge him or look at him any different. It takes work to build intimacy. And once you discover intimacy, it's a beautiful thing and you never want to go back. Because true intimacy is what keeps any relationship together. Whether it's your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse, friends and family. You have to "keep it real" and peel off the layers and thus the aroma of true intimacy can rest at at the core of any relationship. Great post. I am so glad that I met you Rich. We DEF have like hearts and spirits. It is amazing to me how God connects you with people in his own way.


Ebonne said...

So so wise brotha!