So I was totally convinced that I’d already written something on this incredibly important topic: love. Apparently I was either dreaming, daydreaming, or had recently taken some melatonin…not sure which.
In any event, I’ve given a lot of thought on this subject, and my thoughts on what it means to be a real man. I almost considered the approach of quantifying it – bringing it all down to a list of what you do…but fact of the matter is, you can fake it and still not be a man. You can be a total jerk and still come off as everything you’d imagine in the perfect man – charming, cute, funny, chivalrous, strong, with a dashing mustache, or whatever you may imagine.
But being a man isn’t about what you do. You can be an auto mechanic, businessman, factory worker, schoolteacher, entertainer, or anything else you can imagine, and still be a man. It’s about who you are. And what is it that really makes a man?
I always find it funny when experts come out with some sort of new idea as to why it is that people in our generation don’t marry as often or as young as previous generations. There was an article a couple of days ago in the Daily Universe that talked about technology being a possible reason.
The reason our generation doesn’t marry as young or as often is because we don’t understand what love is.
More than anything, it’s a real understanding of love. Not mushy, overly-emo, ridiculous Hollywood story ‘love’.
“When a man loves a woman…” (Thank you, years of listening to Michael Bolton…)
Hollywood and the rise of entertainment in general has led us to think that our lives have to be storybook perfect. That if there’s a snag, we have to abandon ship. That sparks have to fly, entire nations have to crumble, and the world has to completely turn around when we fall in love.
Wrong. When a man loves a woman, he doesn’t turn his back on his best friend. That’s not real love. Fact: your grandparents understand real love a whole lot better than you think.
Chemically, people ‘fall in love’ – that crazy rush that you probably confuse for love. That chemical rush can last, at longest, for about two years. But what happens when that’s over? Things fall apart. Period.
Think about every other kind of love now. Or what you think is every other kind of love, because what the world has gotten you to believe is that the crazy chemical rush is true love, and that other stuff is, well, other stuff.
All that other stuff is true love. That rush is a part of it, but it’s nowhere near everything. Here’s an example in my life: my mom. I know my mom truly loves me. How? Well, as a kid, I got sick…a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean that I remember once in fourth grade I had pretty nasty pneumonia and missed a month of school straight. I had ear infections at least three or four times a year. Strep throat was common. I don’t even know how many times I had tubes.
All those times when I was sick as a dog, with a fever, I remember my mom was there, every time, to help me. In big or small things, she was there. When I had my tympanoplasty, when I had the jaw surgery, my tonsils, a fever, a cold, a broken arm, a wasp sting on my ear, or even a black eye from flag football, my mom took care of me.
Real love isn’t about always agreeing. We disagree all the time, my mom and I. But I know she cares about me.
The key to real love, in the end, is the ability to inspire greatness in others. To bring out the best.
I think of teachers who have inspired me. My parents. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and even random people on the street who just make me want to be better. That right there is real love.
A while ago I found a short story that talks about how to recognize real love. In it, there’s three questions that rather easily sum up how to do so. I use it as a sort of litmus test for love. They are:
- Does this person inspire me to do better in school/work and help me in my efforts to be better?
- Does this person inspire me to be a better friend, father/mother, husband/wife, man/woman, son/daughter, etc?
- Does this person inspire me to draw closer to God and be a better person overall?
If you can answer yes to all three of those questions, then that is true love. Period.
Once you understand that true love is what it talks about in 1 Corinthians 13, you start to understand why a guy who beats his girlfriend/wife doesn’t really love her, and the sheer absurdity of a woman saying, “It’s okay, because he loves me.” Physical and psychological violence have absolutely nothing to do with love.
Perfect love casteth out all fear.
You realize the absurdity of a couple who is pretty much nonfunctional when apart because they’re so obsessed with each other that they can’t do anything but think of the other.
You see how ridiculous it is to quantify what your ideal mate would be, or even start making a list of what they have to be like. Real love isn’t a checklist. It’s about what’s in your heart, and each and every one of us have unique and different ways of expressing that love.
A real man understands how to bring out the best in others. That’s what it means to love. So a real man knows how to love. A mechanic, drive-through worker, businessman, schoolteacher, or even a musician can do that. The end.