During a contact meeting with a mom, we had the convo card* that expressed the meaning of a REAL MAN. The fact that the mom had picked this particular card was ironic because she had just finished telling me why she wanted nothing to do with men.
And we both became quiet in the realization that she had never had a REAL MAN in her life, let alone knew of what an example of one was supposed to look like.
I see a lot of articles on social media about how we need to teach the younger generations of boys and girls how to properly treat each other. It starts with us, the adults, the moms, dads, teachers, mentors, brothers, sisters, friends and in my case as a contact person. No pressure.
So here I am looking at this mom who hasn’t had the greatest experience with men in any capacity. My heart sinks, because as I am brainstorming on how to use this conversation card to kindle a positive discussion, I try to put myself in her shoes.
She never experienced what it feels like to have a father that never left, that cheers you on in good times and bad, that raises you to never give up and teach you that making the right decision isn’t always the easiest, that implements rules in order to protect you because of his love for you.
She never experienced a brother that encouraged goofy shenanigans to annoy mom and dad in the car, or threaten to beat up the boy that broke your heart, that wants to support you in every step of life, and therefore invites you to be a part of his children’s lives when he starts his own family.
She never experienced a man that truly, and selflessly loved her, the way that God has called us to love, through sacrifices, self control, and growth in a relationship with Christ.
How can I explain to her that not every man will hurt her like she has been hurt?
How do I explain the importance of not projecting those feelings on to future relationships with men in any capacity?! Like I said no pressure.
The examples of experiences with my own dad, brother and male friends would be hard for her to relate to. I didn’t want to just tell her about the men in my life that are amazing examples of what a REAL MAN is. She needed to see a tangible example that she had experienced and maybe hadn’t realized yet.
CUE THE SEMINARIANS
Praise God for Kevin and Doug, who were assigned to Maggie’s Place for their service immersion placement. So thinking this could be a great teaching moment, I proceeded to ask the mom, “Can you think of any examples of a REAL MAN in your life?”
It kills me that this is her honest answer and I realize this is the honest answer of so many of our moms, but I encouragingly suggest, “What about Kevin and Doug?”
We both broke out into a smile as we talked about Kevin and Doug and all the fun memories she shared with them. They played card games, spent Serve Saturday together, had community night, went to the St. Bernard’s baby shower, sang Adele and shared quality time together.
The seminarians’ gift of presence with the moms was such a beautiful gift to witness. They were the example of what it means to be a REAL MAN, to have the responsibility to treat people with dignity, and to love as God loves us. This mom now has a positive experience with a man in her life thanks to Kevin and Doug.
All of our moms loved spending time with the seminarians and cherished the little things that were so meaningful to them, like having the crust cut off of their grilled-cheese, or having their baby held while they could study. It is a huge deal that our moms loved the seminarians so much because some of our moms are afraid of men, and the fact that they were interacting with the moms on the first night they met was mind-blowing!
I have heard that every year the visiting seminarians leave a lasting impact, and this year was no different. Kevin and Doug were truly a blessing of the Holy Spirit. It is so important for our moms to have positive male influences in their lives, an example of what a REAL MAN is. So as we say goodbye, with many thanks and blessings, and several cards from our moms, I am reminded myself of how thankful I am for the REAL MEN in my life who have shown me God’s love, and for how important it is for everyone to treat others with the dignity they deserve because you never know how much that will impact a life.
By Anna Williams, a MissionCorps member