How to Recognise True Manhood.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” ~ Proverbs 31:10

I know this is written by a mother to her son, but I believe we can ask the same about manhood: An excellent man who can find? What makes an excellent man? What is true manhood? I think it is nothing like what our world manipulates men to be today. I think a true man is as precious as gold in our day and age. 

This week a New Zealand Olympian publically admitted to having a pornography addiction. He wasn’t forced to “out” himself {that is known of}; he willingly shared this difficult and very personal struggle by his own free will. He is a Christian, with a beautiful wife and young son.
He is a brave man. 
Is he a perfect man? No. But is he more manly than the men who make, promote and sell the filth that Willis got sucked into? Yes. Undoubtedly, it isn’t good that he has struggled with this sin. But I believe, without knowing him, that his actions of sharing his sins signal a strength of manhood in the very place of weakness.
Because, that is what makes a man. His actions.


I feel as women we think true manhood is perfection.  A man who has a good job, a good income, comes home and cheerfully cares for everyone, who tenderly knows all his wife’s needs’, and leads his family without fail. A man who never sins. A man who never struggles with anger, or lust, or addictions, or laziness.
Sure, that sounds like a great man. But he doesn’t exist. And neither does the perfect woman. {Try turning the tables and imagine how it feels for a man to measure you up to the “perfect” woman he has created.}

For years now, I have shamefully created in my mind what I believed was true manhood. I measured my husband up to that, and have spent much energy {with internal judging, criticism, grumbling} trying to “help” him become “the man” I believed God wanted him to be. It was my job to be his Holy Spirit – that is part of my job as his helper, isn’t it?
I have been so wrong.
Here I have been, trying to manipulate and shape an already amazingly imperfectly true man, into someone he can never be – who he shouldn’t have to be. I have put incredibly high expectations on him. I haven’t loved him for him. I have sought what I thought he ought to be when the man he already is is the man who really is enduringly manly.
Kimberly Wagner, through God’s timely grace and rebuke, has pointed arrows at my carefully constructed facade of “Husband Holy Spirit Helper” in her book Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior. I picked up this book thinking it would help me in one way only to have been absolutely blindsided and floored before God in humble and repentant need.


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There have been many ways this book has challenged me and forced me to face ugly parts of myself. But I do believe the biggest way has been to show me how to really love my husband again – like I did at the start, when I loved him for him. Yes, this was before life happened and hurt happened and the up’s and down’s of married life happened. Along the way I have grown in my understanding and appreciation of God’s design for men and women in marriage,but I have lost what it means to flesh out the gospel in marriage: to accept, to step down, to come alongside, to be kind-hearted when faced with faults and sin and hurt, to believe in the best.
And I have lost sight of what God thinks a true man is. 
For those who are lost too, who are searching for a way back to loving their husbands well again, purchase this book and be amazed. But before you do, read this passage and have a fresh vision of who your husband is and what a true man he really is:

“True manhood shows up in daily choices that require character qualities like courage, integrity, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. It’s being a man of honor – taking personal responsibility, fulfilling duties, demonstrating valor, and showing willingness to sacrifice and lead for the greater good.
  It is rock-solid strength that forges ahead with the determination to make it through the storm. True manhood stands guard over loved ones with protective eyes. It manifests the tenderness of a benevolent heart that seeks to provide for those in need. But, most importantly, knowing his strength is not derived from himself, a true man walks in humble dependence on the One whose image he bears. He lives out the gospel by fleshing out the character of his Warrior-Savior.”
 

Fierce Women, pg.179

Can you see your husband in this description? In many of these traits, some, or just a few? It doesn’t matter if you can only see one quality in your man. The fact that he is trying makes him a man.

What we, as their wives, have to control in ourselves is the expectation that he be these Christ-like qualities now, all at once, perfectly. Just as we will take many years to mature into feminine Christ-like characteristics, so we should not expect – nor demand – these things of our husbands.

Accept our men now, as they are, extending grace and compassion. As they see that they are safe with us, that we aren’t like dripping taps {Proverbs 27:15}, then they will – God-willing – desire more and more true manhood. Like Kimberly Wagner said, real men need real women.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

Thoughts: What is one way you can affirm your husband’s masculinity today? Can you think of one quality from the description above that you can thank the Lord {and your husband} for?

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