I know that I’m not the only one who believes that men should generally be treated with a little more respect. In fact, I noticed that shortly after my blog, Matt Walsh published a blog along similar lines. Of course, he said it better than I said it…which is probably why he has about 7 million readers to my 70.
Just the same, I found myself burdened for some loved ones who came to mind who perhaps do not have reason to respect men or be particularly grateful to their dads (or husbands). We all make mistakes, but as the leaders in their homes, when they blow it, a dad’s mistakes can affect a lot of people for a long time.
Take this, for example:
Her dad left when she was six. He ran away with his secretary—he was forty two, she was eighteen. He had been married to her mother for twenty years and together they had had seven children. All who had died except one.
This was back in 1928. People just didn’t do this sort of thing. There was no alimony, there was no child support. Just a single mother suddenly on her own trying to make a living after twenty years of homemaking in a world that didn’t have many employment opportunities for women.
It was a disgrace.
When she was 10, her father gave her a bicycle. That is the only thing she ever remembers he gave her. He was never affectionate. He never told her he loved her. He rarely came to visit and when he did, she would often run and hide.
And when he died, she learned of it from a friend who saw his obituary in the Atlanta Journal. But he had already been out of her life for a long time.
A bad dad? Yes, I think you could put one mark in that category. Perhaps he didn’t want to be; perhaps he didn’t mean to be. But he made decisions that sort of blew it for the “happy family” scenario. After that, it was just damage control. Unsuccessful damage control.
And unfortunately he was not the only one. There are others out there, husbands and fathers who have treated their families rather shabbily. I have read some men’s commentary on this (including a humorous rendition by Dave Barry) who conclude—we’re guys. We’re going to do dumb things. Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed. If we want to be responsible, we will be. If we don’t, deal with it.
But I’m not buying it. Not at all.
I’m not going to let the few, the irresponsible rob me of my reason to respect men in general. And I hope, even if you’ve been hurt by a man, that you won’t either.
Keep loving. Keep trusting. Keep expecting.
Expect them to stand up and be a leader. Expect them to be faithful (and forgive them when they try imperfectly). Expect them to work hard, and cheer them on when they do. Expect them to set goals—even some wild and crazy ones that they won’t quite be able to pull off—and help them try anyway. Expect them to get worn out and broken from time to time–and when they do, be there to remind them of their strengths.
Because this is the stuff respect is made of. You cannot respect a man if you expect nothing good from him. You can use him, you can pity him, but you can’t respect him.
And men need respect—it is what good relationships are built on. As Christians, we should never, never, never give up on good relationships. Imperfect, yes. Broken, at times. But able to be forgiven, restored, and rebuilt because that is the beauty of the grace God gives us to love and respect.
If you’ve been hurt in the past, I’m sorry. If the person who hurt you never asked forgiveness, I’m sorry. But don’t use this as an excuse to buy into Dave Barry’s pretend standard for men. It sounds funny—especially when he says it—and there may be a few immature men out there of whom it is true. And I suspect they hate it about themselves. I think there are very few men out there who truly don’t care at all.
I stand by my earlier conclusion: if you have a good man in your life—dad, husband, son, whatever, be sure to show them a healthy amount of respect. Tell them thank you. Be sure they know that you know that they are not Mr. Bernstein. Or Dave Berry.