I listened to Tim Keller's series on marriage and was reminded of some teachings on marriage that have been life-giving for me. As a younger woman, I read the Biblical passages on respect in marriage and felt like I was being pressed down or made lesser - that something was being demanded of me. Then in a marriage ceremony, my pastor spoke of a woman respecting her husband as the loving thing to do - that it's the primary way most men experience love and that it should be offered, not demanded. It's the difference between having to pay a fee to join a church and a church depending on freely given offerings. Removing the demand changes everything.
That need for respect is one of the ways I see shades of the men my boys will be. I found this in my journal from last fall...
"I'll show you a shortcut, Mommy. Come this way. Follow me."
My 3 year old son steps from the trail into the trees and looks back uncertainly to see if I'll follow. I see the beginnings of a man made to lead - he needs to be followed. So I duck under branches and climb over rocks to follow him on this "shortcut". His shortcut is a circle in the woods, but the path is not the point. My son is learning how to be a man, and as he leads me, the air around him changes. I can see his steps grow more confident. We make it back to the trail and he's no longer a little boy walking in the woods. Now he carries himself with the confidence of an explorer, a master woodsman, a leader. And I pray for the women my sons will marry - that they will be gentle with these boys of mine who need to lead in the way they need oxygen.