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.
Scripted by Rich Fitzgerald