The little girl was crying.

She’d been sitting beside her grandma in church but when she turned sad her grandfather scooped her up, a big burly man who barely fit in the pew, and he held her so tender and she leaned her head against his chest and I broke, right there in my chair in the back.

We were singing songs about our Heavenly Father and there’s something about a strong man being a haven for his family. There’s something incredibly beautiful, and rare, about it.

via reckless youth on instagram

The other day our four-year-old son turned to Trent and said, “When I grow up, I want to be big and strong just like you, Daddy, so I can make nice suppers.”

Trent asked me later, “Why wouldn’t he say something like, ‘So I can cut firewood like you Daddy’?” He was laughing, but I understood.

Because it’s the paradox the hurting world is longing for.

A man who knows who he is, and is still willing to serve.

A man who knows the role he’s been given, to protect, to fight for his daughters and sons and wife, to submit to Christ as Jesus submitted to his father, and to provide in a hard-working, selfless kind of way.

A Jesus in the flesh, who both overthrew tables with confidence, and bent down low to wash his disciples’ feet.

It’s called “Sanftmut” in German:  Mut means courage, and Sanft means gentle. So together, it’s the courage to be gentle.

We as women long for both. We long for the man who will take care of us, but not abuse that role. Who will cherish us, not hurt us.

And the church longs for it too.

Over the past few decades there’s been a wind of change that has blown masculinity away. It’s calling manly men wrong. It’s saying men should become like women, and women like men, and kids are confused about their gender and sexuality is a question mark.

Families are broken; there have never been more single mothers and homeless children and fathers are absent from the pews and from their homes, because they’re confused. There’s no place for them anymore.

Yes, patriarchy has hurt countless women and there’s absolutely no excuse for that. And I know there continues to be horrendous situations of abuse, and we are sinful people.

I myself have never been in an abusive relationship, so I cannot speak to those who are, except to say, Get out, honey, and your kids too–take care of yourself, and know I am here for you.

But for the rest of us who are not in abusive relationships, but perhaps have Daddy issues or other wounds, the answer, my friends, is not to rise up and strip men of their calling to lead, but to bow down low and ask God to redeem us as a people.

It’s no secret that I am a former feminist who wrote a very controversial post last spring on servanthood, and even though I never wanted to broach the topic ever again, I felt recently that I needed to: because my heart longs for women to know their true identity as Abba’s daughters, and the PEACE that comes with it, the contentment, which in turn, transforms our families.

God made us male and female and he has a beautiful vision of what those genders can look like. But we’re so busy trying to fix what’s been broken that we’re not letting him work through the brokenness. We’re not giving the Father the platform. 

And our men are hurting. Our boys and girls are hurting. We as women are hurting and our homes are divided because there are two leaders.

The Bible says there is strength in weakness. There is power in being gentle. There is divinity in being a servant. The last shall be first. The first shall be last.

via tumblr

According to Scripture, we as women, are responsible for helping our men discover their full identity in Christ–for believing in them, encouraging them, speaking highly of them in public and in front of our children, praying for them, and respecting what they have to say.

Our men are responsible for taking care of us as Jesus took care of the church. Fighting for their children, providing for their families, praying over their homes and washing their wives’ feet.

And together, we as parents form a church for our children. 

A holy gathering place, where family becomes God’s kingdom, here on earth.

(I know this is not a popular topic. But please, let’s keep the conversation in the comments civil, friends? Thank you… Love, e.)

**Please note, there will be no #imperfectprose link-up this week.**