Once I was naïve.
I thought I could tell if a man were good or bad, kind or mean.
But I was wrong.
I learned the hard way that a man is not always who he portrays himself to be. I learned the hard way that he could hit and slap, kick and shove, beat and rape, subject you to public humiliations and break your heart.
I learned the hard way that the one person in the entire world who is meant to love and protect you is the one person in the whole world that you need protection from.
Recently I was invited to the 60th birthday celebration of a dear family friend, a man I have known my whole life, a man I admire and respect. You know who you are. We were told, no gifts, just a card. As I sat to write my hand and brain seemed incapable of expressing what was in my heart. It came out a mish mash of random thoughts that probably just seemed weird.
What I wanted to say was this: When I was growing up, I saw men who loved their wives and families. My father. My grandfathers. My uncles. My brothers. My Christian brothers. I was not unaware that there was evil in the world, but I had been exposed to men of integrity all my life, so when a man came along who lacked integrity but radiated charm and possessed a dynamic personality, I was easily deceived.
When I was at last free, my heart was broken once again, then a third time.
I can’t help but think of my favorite Christmas Carol taken from a poem by Longfellow.
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
At times I feel like changing the words, “There are no good men on earth I said,”
But like Longfellow, I am reminded,
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
And I remember those men, the ones that I have witnessed all my life, who love their wives. Who love their children. Who love their God.
And I am thankful for them. They are my own bells that chime to remind me that all men are not bad.
16 thoughts on “One Good Man”
Reblogged this on Thinking Out Loud and commented:
We are kindred spirits! I would love to share my book with you.
Say what you will about Liz Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” but I couldn’t forget this–because it’s been me, and maybe you, too?:
“I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”
Remember this, also from Gilbert: “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.”
Keep on being open, but I guess it’s about being judicious.
Fr. Henri Nouwen talks about controlling “your own drawbridge”:
“You must decide for yourself to whom and when you give access to your interior life. Think of a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. The drawbridge is the only access to the interior of the castle. The lord of the castle must have the power to decide when to draw the bridge and when to let it down. Without such power, he can become the victim of enemies, strangers, and wanderers. He will never feel at peace in his own castle.
“It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. You might think that you are being generous in giving access to anyone who wants to enter or leave, but you will soon find yourself losing your soul.” Henri Nouwen
Are you in the habit of drawing up the bridge to your soul regularly? If you are feeling a lack of joy, peace or love for God or others, how long has it been since you’ve had a time to recharge?
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Oh yes, this is me – “I have been a victim of my own optimism.” Absolutely. Thank you for sharing. I really liked the drawbridge analogy as well. I do experience peace, love and especially joy but my bridge is pretty tight when it comes to romantic men, I’m not gonna lie. The nice thing is – there are none in my life – 🙂 so no struggle there.
People always say, “You’ll know.” My response was, “I DID know–and look what happened.” But I’ve gotta say, I built a joyous life, and when that solid man (not guy) who takes responsibility for his stuff, when he came along, Rebecca. I KNEW. You have the right attitude: Live your life. Do what is joyous, and don’t take that ridiculous advice to “put yourself out there,” as if you’re hitchhiking.
Ha! Oh goodness no. He’s gonna have to come banging on this castle door. 🙂
Love you Aunt Beck. This is a hard one to read but I’m thankful you wrote it. I’m thankful we’ve had men of integrity around to give us hope and I’m thankful that Father can make beautiful things out of bad situations. ❤
Love you Em.
I was trying to describe life’s stages last week, and you hit close to it here. When we are children, we’re busy exploring the world. In our 20’s, we are learning about ourselves. I’m in my 30’s now, and it seems that I’m getting a dose of the “real world” and am getting some harsh lessons in how it truly works. It seems you’ve had a similar transition. Thank you for sharing parts of your journey here.
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Wow. Just wow. I so appreciate your honesty. I don’t fully understand what has happened to men. But keep believing and keep trusting (not in men, but in the God who creates and recreates men). Temper your optimism, but don’t give in to fatalism. I’ve watched you walk through some of this from afar. I think God is working some great things in you.
Amen, good advice. Thank you. 🙂
I have experienced much of what you have spoken. Silly as it seems there remains hope, faith and love. Perhaps not the way our childhood dreams but in our grown up reality. I care.
It’s not silly. There’s always hope faith and love because those things outside of ourselves. Xo
Thank you for sharing. I am sorry that you were in a position where you learned that not all men are full of integrity. I am so thankful that I found my husband while we were still in high school and he brings out the best in me, even when I am at my worst. To love God and love each other, is the best blessing and relationship I can have. I wish you peace and complete healing.
Thank you Melanie. I’m so glad you found your husband (or he found you.) 🙂
Me too! I would call it half and half as he showed up on my door step one day and the rest is history 🙂
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