I met this young man a few months ago on a flight to give a talk in the Midwest. Ironically, my talk was on marriage and family and the inherent call within each to “man up” or “woman up” respectively. I asked him if he really believed the sad vibe his shirt was proclaiming. “Nah,” he said. “I just wear it for the attention.” Really?
Here’s a couple of verses from a Bruno Mars song:
Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the tone
‘Cause today I swear I’m not doing anything.
I’m gonna kick my feet up
Then stare at the fan
Turn the TV on, throw my hand in my pants
Nobody’s gonna tell me I can’t.
Really? That’s it.
Sad are the scenes of men in their thirties lining up for the next GTA series at the video game store, or the “boys” in their late twenties dressed down with their ball caps on backwards at the pubs, sitting beside their girlfriends (who clearly put a lot more time and thought into dressing up for the evening).
But back to the t-shirt graphic. The man is sad, the woman glad. The game is over. But what game is that?
I know you ladies have your flaws but I’m a guy and one who took too long discerning what to make of my life, so I’ll say it plain. I can say it now, fully aware of my many flaws but with ten years on the other side of the altar: we need to man up. The sad face comes when we cling to what we think will bring us joy and retract from what we think will take away our freedom. Like the rich young man, I think many of us men are turning away sad from this invitation to a new life because we fear to let go of our many possessions.
Marriage can turn self-centered boys into selfless men. Marriage invites men to realize finally and fundamentally their greatest potential and their masculine genius: the call to become a gift. A total Braveheart stretched on the rack, Man of Steel pierced in the chest with Kryptonite, muddy mess of a man whose best work pants have spaghetti sauce on them. Ah, but these are glory scars. Especially the sausage grease on the dress shirt. Classic.
Maybe marriage is actually, in a certain sense, the end of a game. The game of solitaire. And it’s the beginning of a life, and it’s a wonderful life. A wonderful life indeed!