Feb 26, 2013
To the good men in my life,

Thank you.

For my entire life, I've been engaging with the same thing humans everywhere engage in: learning.

Unfortunately, for a large portion of this time, I haven't learned many good things about men. I have learned that men are either aggressive and will hurt you, or are weak and can't protect you. I learned that men are more knowledgeable, important, and stronger than women. I learned that men only want power, money, or sex. I learned that men are jerks, to be feared and avoided, and for the longest time had this sub-conscious thought pattern of women as goodies and victims, and men as baddies and perpetrators.

I'd almost like to apologise for that, but I wouldn't chastise anyone for being simply a product of their environment, especially if they were still seeking to learn, which is what I (hopefully) am doing.

I have since learned a great deal of other things; I've learned about feminism and the suffragettes, I've learned about and from strong independent women, I've learned how to be independent myself, I've learned more about the complexities of my childhood and how that has framed my thinking. These are all good things I've learned, though on their own they did not balance out my fear of men, but only equipped me to feel as if I could defend myself against these predatory creatures God had stuck me with.

So up went the walls, and they were pretty solid. If it was something to be proud of, you bet I'd have the biggest grin around town; not many people could scale the walls, let alone come down the other side unscathed. If I saw someone of the male sex but peek over that wall and even think about getting closer, out would come every effort of pushing him away. Down, you! Back to the depths from whence you came!

I'd actually like to apologise for that one; sorry. I kicked a lot of well meaning guys off that wall.

But back to the learning! I had learned that men are bad, and learned how to protect myself, but then in came... The Good Men *cue superhero music or something cheesy and inspirational*.

It wasn't one big group walking in as maybe I have just made it seem, in fact, I didn't even realise it for many years afterwards, during some reflection that I guess there are men in my life that I... Kinda trust sometimes...

These were men who were not aggressive, but they certainly weren't weak; powerful and smart, but never manipulative; funny, friendly, and encouraging not because they wanted 'more' from me, but simply just because.

I learned that men weren't bad. That men aren't bad. In fact, I learned that there are some pretty gosh darn tootin' good men in the world. The old ways were so ingrained that this fact still unnerves me at times.

If you're reading this, and you know me, you might be able to hazard a guess that you are one of these good men in my life (unless of course you're a woman... In which case, yo).
And if you're second guessing that, I urge you to be honest and talk to me... Face to face or leave a comment, chuck me an email, I love to nut this stuff out because it helps me to make sense of my brain.

But the main thing is this: thank you. Thank you from the very bottom of my beating, bruised, bursting joyful heart, for being exactly who you are.

Thank you for being genuine, for being fun, for having a character of such integrity and honesty that I'm really finding it more and more difficult to sympathise with the 'men are stupid assholes' attitude that is thrown about among some women (Don't be discouraged, it's not all women). Thank you for being an example of Jesus, of someone who is after His heart, and who doesn't follow the rules the world tells you that you should.
Thank you for treating me with respect and patience, for always being gentle and kind without expecting something in return. For making me laugh and sing and dance and dream.
Thanks to you, I no longer count men as monsters; I am no longer cynical and suspicious about every move and motive as 'surely destructive and ulterior'. You have given me hope (one of those essentials to life) in men, hope in people, and through your very existence, renewed hope in God.

It's not necessarily one big thing that you've done; this is not about grand gestures, but it's about your daily living; that you desire to learn and grow and know God; you're not afraid of being yourself; you have the courage to try new things; you know when to have fun and when to be serious; you value other people as God's creation; you encourage others to be all that they can be; you have your dreams and desires and quirks and oddities; you have wisdom and strength (sometimes more than you're aware of) and through it all, you have the honesty to admit that there are gaps; to see where you could have done better, not to live in regret and despair but to pick yourself up and continue in the path of God's grace.

Even if you and I are not particularly close as friends, the way you live your life has had such an impact on mine, as I'm sure it has on countless others. I thank God for you, for the honourable men you've had as examples and mentors in your life, and for the men that you are an example to yourself. I thank God that I know I will never be without a brother in this life.

Know this: You are important. You are valuable, not only to me, but what you have to offer the world and the community around you sometimes goes beyond your knowledge. As a collective effort you have changed my life, and you will continue to do so. This world is better off with you in it.

As for the learning, that will continue... I know I've got a lot of walls to tear down, and it hurts and I'm not quite sure where to start, but until I met all of you, I did not know that those walls have been keeping out the good with the bad. So thank you, for leading me to the realisation I'd built those walls, and giving me a reason to knock them down.


Much love, respect, and laughter,



Em.

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