Our daughter Olivia turns 11 next week. Her dad and I are watching her begin to leave her little girlhood behind and step into a new world of womanhood. (sigh) Little girls are so much less complicated than little women.
Though mothers have enormous impact on our daughters, I have come to realize just how deeply a woman’s whole being is shaped by the very first man in her life.
My own dad wasn’t a perfect man, but I grew up secure in my father’s love for me. I was convinced that he loved me deeply, was proud of me, and that he cared enough about me to set high boundaries and expectations. I have come to believe that this one thing alone has had more impact on shaping the woman I have become for the good in a greater way than many other influencers in my life, both for the good and the bad.
Now, I’m getting my own front row seat to my own little becoming a woman and how that vital relationship with the first man in her life is shaping so much about the woman she is becoming.
Over the past few weeks in particular we have noticed her changing so much in so many ways, even in her emotions. Last night was one instance of an emotional time for her in which she got upset and very emotional over a misunderstanding and hurt feelings with her daddy.
A steady stream of tears and honest words came as she expressed her heart and her feeling of hurt. The entire ordeal was mostly a complete misunderstanding on her part that likely didn’t warrant such an emotional reaction.
However, what I noticed most was her father’s response to her irrational thinking and over-emotional response. (sound familiar ladies?)
I knew that he would have been justified in defending himself. He could have dismissed her feelings, told her to suck it up and move on, and just ignored the whole thing….
But he didn’t.
Though she had distanced herself from him in anger, I watched the first man in her life pull her into himself, sit her in his lap, and just hold her while she wept.
He held her while she wept.
For a while, he didn’t say a word. He just held her and wiped her tears.
I knew that I had witnessed a moment of the purest and most tender kind of mercy that is born only out of deep and genuine love.
He allowed her to feel what she was feeling and say what she needed to get out…however wrong or irrational to the outside world she may have appeared, he loved her smack dab in the midst of her messiness.
I couldn’t help but hope that this kind of father love would shape her for the rest of her life in the understanding that good fathers, that real men love every part of a woman; not just the parts that benefit or please him. But even the parts of her that are complicated and messy and broken.
What she may not know now that she will likely one day realize, is this:
A good man cherishes who a woman already is rather than working to change her into what he wants her to be. A good man cares more about protecting a woman’s heart than he does about defending his own ego. A good man takes the time to nurture a woman’s soul because he knows that a woman thrives when she is tenderly lead.
The true beauty of a woman is reflected in her soul, not in her face or her body.
As the momma of my own little woman, it is my hope that the first man she ever loved will have set the bar so high that she would know that she doesn’t have to settle for any man less than one who will love her soul and protect her heart….because her father did first.
Rather than pushing her away, a good man will a pull woman into himself when she is being unreasonable, emotional, and irrational. He will wipe her tears as she cries, wrap his strong arms around her and just hold her. A strong man has the gentle strength and the capacity to love a women well because he understands her deep worth.
The tender love of a good man allows a woman to rest in him. The love of a good man inspires a woman to rise to the occasion of loving and respecting a man as he deserves, he liberates her to be her best self, to live her best life, and to love the rest of the world well.
In this, good men inspire others to lead in love by the way just by the way they live their own quiet lives.
Good men don’t need power, or wealth, or an arm full of beautiful women to feel like a man, because a good man knows that his faithful and tender love – has the power to change the world.
Sometimes merely by tenderly wiping away a tear and softly whispering, “You are so loved.”
What woman would ever want or need to be liberated from that kind of love?