It's a Love Story, Baby Just Say Yes
Every guy needs to see a love story.
That’s a pretty silly thing for a teenage guy to say. Now, before you think I’m crazy, I should probably explain myself. I don’t mean every guy should watch those chick flicks their sisters love. Chick flicks are the girl’s version of the guy’s action movies. There’s a difference between a love story and a chick flick. Chick flicks are definitely about the female side of the story. True love stories are about both the man and the woman, and how God created them to work together. The beauty of the lady inspiring the strength of the man. That’s what is so magical about love stories.
As a guy, I want to be seen as tough. Nothing can break me down, nothing can make me cry. Somehow, I take pride in not showing “weakness,” even though I’m not a real “manly man.” But my view of manhood has been drastically altered recently. I have, by chance, been introduced to a handful of love stories. I strangely love listening to music that tells a love story. My friend’s high school play this year was West Side Story, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Then a dear friend gave me Pride and Prejudice and told me to read it. And, most recently, I went to see Les Misérables with friends today.
First, the play my friend was in opened my eyes to this truth that I appreciate love stories. And that’s not a weak, sissy thing: that’s extremely manly. Now, I could start to figure out what my brainstorm meant. Once I realised that, I began to see everything else through a new lens. I’m not saying every love story is okay, some are mutated and promote evil instead of good. But I’m saying that a good, old-fashioned love story is often just what a teenage guy needs to see.
Pride and Prejudice is an interesting book. Not my favorite book in the history of the world, but I’m definitely glad I read it. I am able to see the “inner workings of the female mind,” as my friend puts it. That’s scary, but fun for a guy. How do girls view me? How can I be like Darcy? And not like the sleazy Wickham?
Les Misérables is an amazing movie! But aren’t there girly parts? You know, all that romantic stuff? Yes, but there are also many things a guy can learn from it. Not so much “learn,” but catch a glimpse of. The whole story is so rich with worldview: real longing, true brokenness, actual (not cheesy) redemption. But the most important thing I saw in Les Mis is what it means to be a man. Jean Valjean is such a man: not because he’s buff (which he is) or because he doesn’t show emotion (which he actually does), but because he cares about people. He uses his God-given strength as a man to help people, even in the midst of confusion. While he’s still trying to figure out his own life, he cares for the needs of others. My favorite scene in the movie was when he took Fantine to the hospital, even while Javert was chasing him.
When I saw that scene, I cried. Not a lot, of course, but I might have shed a tear or two. It reminded me of a song in the Easter Drama our church put on this past year, “Just Another Birthday.” The lady was singing about different guys in her life who had hurt her, including her absent father and abusive ex-boyfriend. Every time I heard that song, I stopped and cried. I got the feeling of, “I want to protect her!” I wanted to go up to her ex-boyfriend and punch him. (And that was weird because at the time the actor was my sister’s boyfriend!) That’s what God created me to do--not punching people, but protecting. How can I protect my mom, my sister, my friends? I want to be known as a benevolent, caring person, like Valjean.
Speaking of songs, my favorite song from Les Mis is “I Dreamed a Dream.” When Fantine sings that, it breaks my heart. I love the picture of such a broken life, seeking redemption. But my favorite phrase from that song is the very first line. “There was a time when men were kind,/When their voices were soft/And their words inviting.” You see, Fantine had been used by many guys. Instead of using their strength to help her, they used that power to hurt her, for their own “benefit.” I don’t want to be like that. I want to care for the women God has placed in my life.
What’s so cool to see in a love story is that there are two sides. As I said earlier, beauty inspires strength. I love to see a picture of a true man who isn’t just a “gentleman” who holds doors for women, but a real man who actually steps up to protect women. Why does he do that? Because they are worth fighting for. Ladies are beautiful! I don’t mean anything bad or creepy by that, but I mean we can see God created y’all so beautiful, not only on the outside, but much more so on the inside. Seeing a character like that in a movie wakes us guys up to the realization that the young ladies in our own lives are beautiful and worthy of protection, too. When guys my age catch a glimpse of a person to fight for, instead of someone to use, they can finally see why God calls us boys to be men.
It’s crazy that God created man and woman. Separate, distinct, meant to work together. I want to step into that. I want to inspire others to step into that. That’s why I want to be a father someday: I desperately want to teach my sons manhood and tell my daughters they are beautiful. When my friend and I were discussing Les Mis, the word we came to at the same time to describe it was “powerful.” If you’re a guy and you’re wondering if you should watch that one movie with your sister: if it’s a love story, baby just say yes!