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.