Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Courageous Men

James and I went to see the movie “Courageous” this past weekend. This movie is made by the same people who made “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants.” “Courageous” is a movie about a group of men who have two things in common…they are policemen and they are fathers. Throughout the movie the men commit to working with the Lord to become better fathers, fathers who are completely devoted to serving their families and their God. In my opinion, this movie was fantastically done and I highly recommend it. What was especially interesting to me was the reaction of the men in the audience. When the movie ended, no one moved. Everyone sat through the credits and even remained for a while after the screen went black. I saw men sit there quietly with tears running down their faces. Many men were leaning forward on their hands just staring at the black screen. Without any words being said, you could see these men reviewing their responsibilities as fathers and evaluating their level of commitment. My husband was no exception to this response.

In our confused world, a “real man” is often described as someone who is hormonally driven and ready to fist fight at any opportune moment. He works out as many hours a day as needed to produce python sized biceps, has an endless supply of money to spend on himself and drives a muscle car.

I completely disagree with this definition of a “real man” and so do the makers of the movie “Courageous.” I believe that a true man is one who puts everyone’s needs, especially those of his family, above his own. A real man will work diligently to earn enough money to provide for the needs of his wife and family. A real man will stay up until midnight talking (listening) to his teenage daughter and then wake up a few hours later to clean up after a sick child. A real man will play trains with his son for hours, clean the kitchen, and allow his daughters to paint his fingernails. A real man loves the Lord above all else.

As I watched “Courageous” I was so grateful for the “real man” who sat beside me holding my hand. My husband is a “real man.” He gives his life, one day at a time, to me and to our children. He works tirelessly to provide for our financial needs and then rushes home to attend football games, orchestra recitals, and school performances. My husband drives an 18 year old car with broken air conditioning in order to avoid unnecessary family debt. He dresses like “Prince Charming” and attends the elementary school Royal Ball with our princess daughters. He has cried each time we miscarried and likewise has cried each time he held our newborns. He has traveled around the world to bring home our adopted children at enormous sacrifices. One of those times included a plane ride across the ocean with our extremely sick daughter who cried the entire time while he tried to clean up her constant “sick mess.”

My husband puts the Lord and his family first in every decision that he makes. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for the real man that he is.

Likewise, I am grateful for the real man that my own father is. He is an incredibly accomplished man who has every worldly reason to be overly confident and consumed in his own abilities and accomplishments. However, if you ask him, his greatest success in life is his family. Although his career in the military was extremely demanding, he was a constant in his children’s life. He always had time to play with us in the backyard upon returning home and is a champion at making up ridiculously fun children’s activities…just ask his grandkids! His commitment to his family did not end as his children grew up and moved away. One example of this took place several years ago when I contracted a life threatening infection following surgery that put me in the hospital for over a month. At that time we had five children under the age of seven. My busy father left his business to come tend our children while I was in the hospital, allowing my husband to continue working and visiting me at the hospital in the evenings. I know the enormous sacrifice that this was for my dad…but my father is a real man.

I am so grateful for the real men in my life – my husband, my father, my brothers, and brother-in-laws. I am grateful for the real men in my church and community. I smile every time I see a father leave a church service with a crying child, every time I see a father attending parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school, and every time I see a father coach a little league team. I hope that these men know how much their children and their families need them and their commitment to fatherhood. I hope that they know that their efforts make an incalculable difference in helping their children to make wise decisions. I hope that they know that their endless efforts are noticed and appreciated not only by their families and communities but more importantly by their Heavenly Father.

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