Guys like to fix things. This is a proven fact of nature. I’m not even necessarily talking about mechanical things either. Guys like to turn flailing businesses around, set broken bones, mow neglected lawns, tune out-of-tune instruments, point out editorial mistakes in the local newspaper, tighten loose door hinges, change their own oil, and on and on and on and on…
Another thing guys like to do is protect stuff. I’ve never shot a living thing in my life, but if some rabid animal shows up in my yard and is threatening my family, I wouldn’t hesitate to put it down. It’s not just physical protection, though; it’s defense. Guys keep tacklers away from the quarterback, scream when they block shots, throw themselves on grenades, take the rap for things they didn’t even do, try to keep the other team out of their end zone, fight for women they don’t even know, and on and on and on…
Although I wouldn’t rate myself very high on the manliness scale, I wonder if all this isn’t why I’ve become so interested in the field of psychology. After depression counseling, I felt as if someone had repaired a part of my brain that wasn’t working correctly and given me the tools to perform maintenance as needed. Then I started thinking about all the other people I knew who could benefit from something similar, and I thought, “Yeah, I want to be a part of that.” Plus, if I could head off issues before they sprouted, I would also be defending people from future danger.
Check and check!
What has been surprising, though, is how beautiful people who don’t have it all together are becoming to me. I’ll admit, I’ve spent most of my life as a judgmental hypocrite, which I believe everyone in the Bible Belt is required to become for at least a portion of their lives. “Those people need to straighten up! They need to get it together!” And then I realized those people were me. I didn’t have it all together either, and I still don’t. As singer/songwriter Derek Webb once sang, “There are things you would not believe that travel into my mind.” There wasn’t a them anymore; suddenly, it was us.
The main problem with broken people, however, is that it’s very difficult to convince them they’re beautiful. Take a beautiful young woman, for example, the kind a guy would do stupid things for. Maybe she had trouble with her family. Maybe she has marks on her face left by acne. Maybe she has a scar from some harrowing surgery she thinks will make her ugly if anyone sees it. She doesn’t want to hear about being beautiful, even when someone tells her she is. It’s heartbreaking when she won’t accept a compliment.
Broken people also don’t want to be called broken. They build up tough shells, and even though everything about them screams “I need a friend,” they do their best to keep everyone at arm’s length. They want to set the rules and the boundaries, and they don’t want protection or defense from anyone. At least, that’s what they’ll tell you. They work hard to project independence and toughness, even though they can be hurt very easily by the insensitive among us. They can be fiercely loyal, but also ready to bolt at the first sign of danger.
I used to think I had to fix broken people to make them beautiful. I used to try to protect them and act all self-sacrificing by turning myself into some type of martyr on their behalf. In actuality, I probably just made them feel worse. I don’t need to repair anyone; I need to love them, the same way God loves me even though I falter terribly every day. I hope psychology can be a vehicle for me to do that more effectively by teaching me more about how the mind works, but all that knowledge is useless without the heart. If I can’t say to someone, “I’m here. I’m not running. We’re in this for the long haul, no matter what.”, then I’m defeated before I even start.
I’m a guy, and I like to fix things. I’m a guy, and I like to offer protection. Sometimes, though, I don’t need to do either one. I just need to be there, not trying to offer up any judgments or complicating the matter. There’s a beauty in that brokenness that I can’t explain. It’s gracious and it’s grand, even when I blunder in and step all over it. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I don’t want to lose it. We shouldn’t want to lose it, since you probably saw beauty in me when I didn’t see it either.
I’m here. I’m not running. We’ll make it.