Wednesday evening found me with about 90 other women from my church attending a seminar called “Real Strength: Understanding the Heart of a Man.” We invited John Pierce, who is a counselor at The Barnabas Center, to come and share his insight from extensive study on the topic of ‘getting’ true masculinity in a time that really misses and dismisses the beauty of a man’s design.
I myself, a straight A student of my culture’s belief that men could be seen as merely a means to an end, felt a bit daunted by attending such a seminar. But, I am very glad I had the courage to go. Also, I am thankful for a new willingness inside of me to be taught. Or Retaught. Because I do not come to this subject empty-handed. As a matter of fact…I come very weighed down.
John opened our time with some free association exercises. He is after all…a therapist. He called out words like: Boy, Man, Boyfriend, Dad, Masculine, Son, and Brother, and we were asked to write down our initial thoughts. My responses were very telling of my need to be exactly where I was at that moment, because no matter what my history is with men in the past…my husband deserves to have his own unique story with me.
What does that mean? For starters, it means that I need to ponder the original design of a man, and thus come to a place where I can begin to appreciate and value our differences.
That evening, I was reminded of how the fall of creation and sin entering into the world effects a man specifically. He was designed to subdue the earth and work the land with endless reward and bounty. When sin entered the picture, their specific curse became a life spent in toil, and the only constant would be a posture of enduring in seemingly endless failure and futility.
No job for a man will ever be completed because it must be maintained. No amount of physical, mental, and spiritual exertion will ever be seamless, and as a woman, knowing this is very helpful. Why? Because in my role as my husband’s helpmate and the one who receives him at the end of the day, I will always have a choice either to add to this burden or help him relieve it. Not take it from him…that is not my design, but to encourage him in his life long endeavor of weight lifting.
I am not suggesting that women should not speak, need, or require of a man. That is an entirely different blog post. But my take away was just how powerfull the words are that I speak and how I go about communicating those needs. If a man comes into life with a posture of ‘not being enough’, how helpful is it that I continue to point this out to him on a daily basis from my very own position and perspective? Especially, if those words are devoid of any morsels of encouragement, gratitude, life-giving affirmation, and affection.
At the end of the day, John’s seminar could be summed up with two words: “Be Kind.” And simply, treat a man as if he were human, because he is most certainly flesh and bone. Care for him and his heart. Ask him questions, allow him to be adventurous; even if it is just in conversation. Don’t always assume you know what he thinks. Be gracious. And acknowledge that he has a story of his own.
The reality is that we as women have the power to inspire by joining them in their struggles and their victories as much as possible. That night, I saw that I can be a wonderful instrument in the hand of God. And at the very least, I can help cast a vision of hope that his own redemption is possible even though it’s marred by thorns and thistles.
**This is a slide from John’s presentation.**
Love A Man
␣ Honor His Work
␣ Believe For / In Him – Pray For Over Him
␣ Invite Him To Be More – Invite Him To Be Responsible With And For
␣ Compassionate, Merciful , Respecting – Boy In Every Man
␣ Offer From Your Vulnerability
␣ Invite Him To Name What Is Going On In Him – Give Time
␣ Understand That Your Happiness Is Not Up To Him
␣ Have Your Own Life With God – Let God Father You
␣ Be Penetrable – Impact-able – Offer Yourself
␣ Give Him Space For Himself To Be Off And Take Counsel With Himself – World Is Always Requiring
␣ Let God To Speak To Him – Give Space For Him To Work
␣ Encourage Of Masculine Friendships – Men Confirm Masculinity
␣ Want To Know Him – His Likes, Dislikes, Interests, Desires, Dreams
␣ Nurture Your Life / Heart / Know Your Self /Truth – Share It Freely
␣ If He Is Not On The Good Path Pray For God To Speak To Him/Humble Him/Be Curious
␣ Learn To Wait Well…allow Space For Him To Rise..
Hate A Man
␣ Dishonor His Work / Movement In The World *Look To Him As God * Treat Him Like A Boy – Caudle Him * Be Demanding / Impenetrable
␣ Name For Him – Tell Him What He Feels and Thinks
␣ Require Him To Be With You Always – To Fill Your Loneliness
␣ Do His Inventory / Accounting For Him – Be The Spirit
␣ Be God’s Voice
␣ Discourage Man Friends And Man Stuff
␣ Don’t Care About Who He Is…Just Expect Him To Care About Who You Are
␣ Withhold Heart / Truth or Share It Without Grace
␣ Try To Change Him / Humble Him / Convict Him
␣ Fill In All The Space *Make Up For All The Need, Rescue Him – Leave No Space For Him To Show Up
␣ Resist His Movement Toward You *Don’t Greet Or Part Well *Don’t Say Thanks or I Am Sorry
* RECEIVE HIM WHERE YOU CAN