The month where love is mentioned the most. Other than Christmas, it's the month jewelry stores spend the most advertising dollars. Flowers, cards, candy, fancy dinners, lingerie...anything in the name of love is up for grabs.
It's amazing how Americans are gluttons for anything commercialized. I drive down the streets in Charlotte and it seems on every corner is a vendor selling these gift baskets with a huge stuffed animal, candy and other knick knacks wrapped in cellophane. Who's buying this stuff? Take the amount of money spent on expressing a feeling this particular day of the year. It's quite profound if you think about it.
Now, before you go and think I'm a grumpy old man (I might actually be) who doesn't believe in romance and love, give me a break...that's not true. I'm the first to say a man, first and foremost, should be the initiator of expressing his love towards his wife and children. His words should be meaningful, purposeful, and encouraging. His actions should match the love he feels inside. Often times, the feeling he has is to be expressed through gift-giving. But this is not the only way to express his admiration and passion for his wife and children.
It sounds so cliche' but TIME is such an important expression of how one feels towards another. As the old saying goes, "Love is spelled T-I-M-E." I know we've all heard that before and we believe it at our core. But somehow it gets overshadowed in our daily routines and we end up losing precious moments on things rather than on the people we love.
Every year at this time we are inundated with culture's interpretation of love. Music, movies, retail stores, and advertising all convey a message to us that love is something that is seems surfacy, giddy, and trivial. Love is "said" to be forever but as long as the feeling doesn't change. The moment I lose the feeling then I'm to rationalize "it must not be love." So, I move on to find the feeling again. Because the foundation of love is how I feel. Right?
This is such garbage. Furthermore, this is the problem with men in our culture. It's so interesting to me that the macho stigma of a man in our culture is one who doesn't show emotion. He's a tough guy who stays centered with his nose to the grind. He's not to express feelings or he'll be seen as weak.
On the other hand, since most men don't have a true, Biblical understanding of love they end up relating to their wife and children out of feelings that are unbalanced, uncontrolled, and messed up. Talk about the ultimate paradox of life.
I believe now more than ever before is the time for men to gain a truthful understanding of Biblical love. I'm reminded of what John Sowers wrote in his book, The Heroic Path, "The men who change history are those who love well." He continues by saying that "sacrificial love is the heart of manhood." Why? Because the love of Christ compels us (Corinthians 5:14). The basis of love is NOT a feeling, but rather a CHOICE.
How I define love will determine how I experience love. If my view of love is how another responds to me then my expression of love in return is selfish, discriminatory, and controlling. If my view of love is limited to a feeling "good" then my expression of love will be based in fear and manipulation.
However, when I begin to see that love is a person --Jesus Christ-- then I'm able to see how he expressed that to the world. I can now operate from a place of freedom. He desires to live his life of love through me to others...without fear, manipulation, or prejudice.
Consider this...there are only a few verses in all of Scripture that specifically speaks to how a man relates to his wife and children. That's crazy!! One of those I've always found fascinating--Ephesians 5:25. Here, God says "husbands, love your wives..." The same command is also found in Colossians 3:19. The fact that we are to "love" our wives might cause us to take pause. It doesn't say, "husbands, provide for your wives"...or "husbands, build something for your wives" or "husbands, protect your wives." YES, these are important and good things to do. But the irony here is that God is commanding us to do something that, quite honestly, is very difficult or not easy for us to do. And this speaks so loudly to why we need HIS love in us. We cannot do this without HIM.
To which this brings another irony...the macho, manliness we strive so hard to portray runs head-on into the need of our dependency on Christ. We are called to be courageous, strong, wise, and dependable. But we can only truly love out of dependence. It's not shameful or embarrassing to claim as our crux the cross of Christ. His humility, weakness, and gentleness are the characteristics that we need in our life if we are to bring back a true, Biblical view of manhood.
KEEPING MANLINESS IN THE NEST
Fiskars X27 Super Splitting Axe - This thing is a beast. If you live in a concrete jungle then get one just to hang on the wall. Otherwise, it's useful, manly, and healthy to get out and chop some wood...and this thing will surely do the job.
Dremel 4000 Variable Speed Rotary Tool - I've had a Dremel tool since they came out years ago. I continue to be amazed at how I use it and how often I use it. It packs quite a punch for such a small tool. Whether you consider yourself a craftsman or your tool repertoire consists of a hammer and screwdriver, you need this in the tool box.
MAD-datory EDUCATION This month's links to enjoyable, valuable, and considerable reads.
Field & Stream: The Total Outdoorsman Manual - 374 Skills YOU Need To Know by Simon & Schuster
Generational IQ: Christianity Isn't Dying, Millenials Aren't The Problem, and The Future Is Bright by Hadyn Shaw