Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
I used to do push-ups to the 1984 Footloose soundtrack, specifically “Holding Out for a Hero”. Just before bed, I threw the cassette in my Walkman and let the dreams flow of buzzer beater three-pointers and entire high school gymnasiums chanting my name. Last week my hard work paid off, and my dreams came true. An entire gym echoed with repeated chants and cheers of my name. Except this wasn’t the state championship; it was musical chairs. For my brief fifteen minutes, though, I felt like a hero.
My wife shared with me the new Footloose’s version of “Holding Out for a Hero”. Lose the 80’s beat and hair spray and add a haunting, slower, country twang and some background crickets and you have the new version. It would never make it on my workout playlist, but it still calls to that same deep place within me.
I write the following on behalf of my gender. It’s unsolicited of course- we’re not the best at admitting our neediness.
Ladies, we need to know: Are we your hero? We really do crave the answer, but we’re afraid to ask. Afraid that the answer will sadly declare that we miss the mark. I don’t know of a man that doesn’t have a poor self-image. I listen to the lyrics:
“I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong, he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
…He’s gotta be sure, he’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life”
The depths of me stir. I want to be so strong and sure. And whether I’m coming home from a fight, singing my girls to sleep, or taking out the trash, I need my wife to believe that I’m a prizefighter.
I think of Ephesians 5:33 when Paul says, “… the wife must respect her husband.” I know, I used one of those marriage verses. This conversation too often breaks down when words like “respect” and “submit” are used. Let me simplify things: Ladies, we don’t need you to follow our commands. We don’t want you to let us dominate dialogues or make rules for you. Rather we need you to see and appreciate the wars we fight, the blood we spill, and the pain and disappointment that become our shadow every day. Certainly this reverence must be earned. But when a husband’s love for his wife even somewhat reflects Christ’s for the church, the natural response is utter respect. Although Paul’s words instruct, they also reveal a man’s desire. While God is the ultimate answer on who I am as a man, and it’s men that teach me how to be a man, I cannot overstate the power my wife has to praise me as a man.
We need to know, ladies. Don’t tell us unless you mean it; we know when you’re not sincere. Are we your hero?
Check out Ella Mae Bowen’s “Holding Out for a Hero”. The lyrics haven’t changed since 1984, and neither has the masculine heart.