For some reason I keep thinking about what it means to be a man.
It all started with the tennis. I had never heard the story of how Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf ended up together so when I did, it gave me butterflies in the stomach.
Apparently, the story goes…Andre so badly wanted to win the 1992 Wimbledon final mainly because he wanted to dance with Steffi at the Wimbledon Championship Dance where the gentlemen’s singles winner danced with the women’s singles winner. Andre won the final but by some unlucky chance the dance for that year was cancelled. He had to wait seven years to be able to make a move on Steffi.
He got married to someone else in the interim but his story made me think of gallantry. Maybe it was the way he told it – so confident and yet charmingly humble at the same time.
In 1999 at Roland Garros (French Open), Andre wrote a note to Steffi, “I want no misunderstandings. I think you’re beautiful and fascinating and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what appears to be the pillars of your life. Can we just have lunch or dinner or coffee, take a walk, I don’t care. I just want to get to know you better.”
Steffi gave in and the rest is history…so to speak.
There is something to be admired about a man who is not afraid to woo a good woman. I only have to think of my parents’ story to be reminded that we are living in a generation that is quite unlike any other that has gone before. The men of today don’t seem to be as they used to make them before – innately gallant and chivalrous; willing to go that extra mile. But nor are the women for that matter.
I’m sure those of old thought and felt a similar way about their times. I guess it’s what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun.” But it still doesn’t stop us from seeing our time as unique. Most men seem to have lost something – that God-given adventure to pursue what may bring goodness in their lives…including a wife. Or maybe the problem really starts with the lack of knowledge of what would bring goodness in the first place.
Generally, there is no honour for women and how they are treated nowadays. After my heartbreak I have become convinced that you can tell a man by the way he treats the woman he doesn’t like. If he honours her by not leading her on or by kindly letting her know what his intentions are, there is a good chance he will go even further and beyond for the woman he does like. These things have to start somewhere. A good man doesn’t magically morph into being nor does he act out his goodness in unpredictable and irregular ways. Yes, we account for human imperfection but a man who is good will be considerate to that girl who is unfortunate enough to be in love with him when he doesn’t feel the same.
I will teach my sons this. I will teach them to honour women and to be men who are true to their word. Dependable. And not changelings like shifting shadows. I will teach them to be kind. To all. Especially women.
I sometimes despair that there are no men like that out there. I lose hope because when I look around me all I see is…nothing.
And then I remember how my Dad used to talk our ears off about the power of women. He used to say as women we have the power to create society – that our morality sets the tone for any society. I am beginning to understand what he meant.
Getting my heart broken hurt like fire but through that scorching soreness, I am learning what my Dad was trying to teach me and he had offered it to me without pain.
As a woman I should have standards and it’s not about lowering those standards to get a man. It is about finding a man who will value those standards; a man who will rise to the occasion as Agassi beautifully put it, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what appears to be the pillars of your life.”
Having standards is not snobbery, it is femininity. And a man who gets that and celebrates it is a man indeed.
But then again it’s not just men who have lost something. They don’t make women like they used to either. We have become so insecure with our hearts that we easily lower our standards because that’s what ‘men’ now expect us to do. And if we don’t, they move on to find somebody who will.
It has become a vicious cycle of hopelessness, unrequited love and brokenness.
We need healing. From God.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. But my prayer is that good women – such as myself and all my beautiful single friends – will be found by men who are excited at the prospect of wooing us, loving us and keeping us.
I may not know what it means to be a man but I am learning what a good man looks like. There is a difference.
Through experience and heartbreak, my tender spot for women’s hearts has been magnified. And I will do what I can to nurture my heart and theirs so that we can be the generation that makes good women…and men. At least we should try.