On Valentines Day this year, Robin gave me the most precious gift. We’ll celebrate our 43rd anniversary on April 12th, and of all the gifts she’s given me over all those years, I think this one touched me in a deeper way than any of them. And in a surprising way, because it showed me something I’d never really thought about before. I’ve discovered that this little gift makes me want to be a better husband, a better provider, and a better man. It humbles me. I have to blink back tears if I look at it and think about it very long.
I’ve pondered that, and I’ve come to realize something that I think is true, and important. Not only for me, personally, but for every man. For our country.
Pop psychology tells us that women need love, while men need respect. I’ve never believed that either sex is as one-dimensional as that. I’m a man, and knowing I am loved is vastly important to me. And as far as craving respect, I’ve always thought the more important thing was the desire to be the kind of man who deserves respect. But this little gift, and my response to it, has caused me to think about that whole idea differently. It isn’t mere respect that men need. We need to be a hero.
I never thought about it that way, until I opened my Valentine’s gift. But immediately, I realized that she had given me the thing I needed. It fills my heart to bursting to believe that she thinks about me in that way.
In my original draft of this blog, at this point I began writing about the heartbreaking prospect of all the men who are nobody’s hero, and then went off on a rant about the godless media culture, which has done its worst to marginalize, denigrate, and vilify men. To make us anything…anything but heroes. It’s hard not to go right back there again, but that’s for another day.
Today I just want to talk about the positive side of what it means to a man, or at least to this man, to be seen as a hero to my wife. See, the funny thing is, she is the heroic one. I know her, and I know me. There is no song that more perfectly fits the two of us than “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” Thinking about all of this, I added that song to my concert last week.
I think every little boy starts out wanting to be a hero. I know I did. I wore a cup towel cape around until I got my driver’s license. Every writer starts out as a daydreamer, so as a kid, I had a million heroic exploits in my head. Some boys get to live that out on the football field, or in other sports. Not me. I’m probably still on record as the worst athlete in Post Junior High history. The coaches all pitched in and bought me a saxophone.
But I eventually got my chance. I’ve always known that my family trusted me to be the man, the husband, and the father they believed me to be. I certainly haven’t always deserved their trust, because I am as flawed and weak as every other man on the planet, when I forget who indwells my heart. But it was their faithful belief in me that fueled me to look beyond myself in order not to fail them. Beyond myself, and ultimately to dependency on Christ.
So, in other words, their belief in me was motivation to seek to deepen my relationship with the Lord. And that has changed me profoundly. Again, my thoughts turn to those men that nobody is believing in for anything, and I cannot imagine how desolate that must feel.
As a young father, I don’t know that I ever thought about actually being my son’s hero, or my daughter’s hero. Looking back on that time, however, that’s exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted them both to think their dad could do anything. That I would always be there and know just what to do. That illusion doesn’t last long, but it’s sweet while it does. And, from time to time as they grew up, I got the occasional chance to get at least an echo of those glory days of fatherhood.
We, thankfully, raised two very self-reliant kids who are now wonderful parents (and no doubt heroes) to their own sons and daughters. They are incredibly loving, gracious, and respectful toward us, but it’s been awhile since I had occasion to slip on the tights and cape. That’s just all part of growing older, and roles changing. Maybe that’s part of the reason that little gift from Robin was so special. I still need to feel like a hero. And I’ll say it again…every man does.
I am so fortunate I know, in that I have that need fulfilled, but I also have something even more crucial. God has surrounded me with people, Robin first among them, who are my own heroes. People through whom the Lord directly touches my life, and gives me examples and encouragement I need, to help me remain steadfast, and not lose my way as I set about the work I am called to do. I am grateful to be so blessed. I wish every man could have that.
Join us this weekend for Peter the Rock at 3 o’clock on Saturday. I guarantee that my brother, one of those heroes, will touch your heart with his powerful portrayal.
What A Day Of Rejoicing That Will Be!