The measure of a man is how he gives himself up for his family.
I wish you could see the look on some people’s faces when I tell them my husband homeschools our kids. I mean, first of all, homeschool? What is this, a cult? And secondly, your husband does it? What is wrong with this family?
I will admit: my husband and I do not fit the usual gender stereotypes at all. So good luck trying to stuff us inside one of those boxes.
My husband gets teary-eyed during sappy movies and he loves to talk about his feelings. He’s a much better shopper than I am. He’s so great with kids that they follow him around like he’s the Pied Piper.
I, on the other hand, am kind of a stoic. When I want to express how I feel, I write about it. I’m a minimalist when it comes to word count, and it takes a lot to make me cry. I love kids, but I’m no Pied Piper, and I think there might be a hole in the bottom of my patience jar.
So it should come as no surprise that we don’t fit the traditional marriage roles, either. I’m a public school teacher and currently bring home the bulk of the bacon (as much as a public school teacher can). And yes, I can also fry it up in a pan.
He homeschools our kids by day and coaches a swim team by night. This works best for our family. A lesser man might feel his manhood being threatened with his wife making more money than him, but we view it as a team effort.
When I was growing up in the Bible Belt, I thought the F-word was feminism. Now that I’m older and wiser, I think Christianity and feminism need not be mutually exclusive.
If feminism means leveling the playing field between women and men, then perhaps Jesus himself was a feminist. He was all about upsetting the status-quo and defying cultural mores. Like when he stood between the adulterous woman and the men who were determined to throw stones. When he allowed a prostitute to bathe his feet with her tears and an alabaster jar of perfume, much to the dismay of his disapproving disciples. When he spoke without judgment to an outcast woman and invited her to drink from the well that would never run dry.
I’m not an angry, man-hating feminist, but I’m no doormat, either.
We southern girls don’t do a very good job of hiding our crazy. We also make no apologies about loving our Lord and Savior, and we’re not at all ashamed about being called Jesus freaks. And just so you know, the Bible I read teaches gender equality.
However, the Bible does specify that the husband should be the servant-leader of the family unit. So, I voluntarily follow behind my husband as he trail-blazes the path on the road less traveled.
In the same breath that the Bible says the husband should lead, it also says he should give himself up for his wife, just as Christ gave himself up for the church. My husband does this for me daily. He has never expected me to take a back seat to his career. He chose to resign from the rat race to make sure our kids receive the kind of education we want them to have.
(And by the way, I don’t need my husband to provide for me financially. I’m fully capable of doing that for myself. But what I do need from him, he doth provide.)
He provides hands that are gentle and strong. He provides feet that lead the way. He provides arms that carry my burdens. He provides eyes that are only for me. He provides words that are encouraging and uplifting. He provides an example that I hope my son will follow. He provides wide open spaces big enough for me to dream Texas-sized dreams.
Character does matter — and that’s the measure of a man. Not how high up he is on the corporate ladder. Not how thick his wallet is. Not how many chicks he can pull. The measure of a man is how he gives himself up for his family. The measure of a man is not being intimidated by an educated, independent woman.
The measure of a man is his ability to inspire a strong southern girl like me and a house full of crazy kids to follow his lead.
About Andrea Fifield
I’m a teacher, writer, swim mom of 4 and bereaved mom of 1. I wear many hats (and sometimes a swim cap)! I blog about life, love, and loss at Following the Fifields.