Growing up, Sunday was my favorite day.
Early morning, still in my peejays, I would go downstairs and feast on the best cartoon shows the networks had to offer—only the greats: Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry, The Flinstones, followed by The Jetsons. I never understood who or what Hanna Barbera was, but to me, he was the messiah.
While each show had its character, one of the most common themes was that of the damsel in distress rescued by the hero. Never mind that half the humor was watching the hero repeatedly fail; the message I took was that, as a boy, it was my job to help and save girls.
As I grew older and gave up cartoons, I never gave up on this mission. My commitment to becoming a protector grew more robust and expanded from girls to women, my community, and the whole world. And I was not alone—all the young men I associated with felt the same. The world was a problem we were to solve, placing all of society’s shortcomings squarely on our shoulders, where they belonged.
All of this felt right so long as I could survive with a couple of dollars in my pocket, sleep on any couch, and hitchhike to get around—I felt invincible and unstoppable. But once I got married and had my own family, things changed. Suddenly, I had my own problems: I had to find a place to live, pay all the bills, and deal with the never-ending issues of raising children. Far from the young volunteer/protester who had all the answers, I was now the one who needed emotional and physical help. The stress, pressure, and resources required to be the hero were too much.
So I turned to my partner, soulmate, and wife and opened up to her. But there was a catch. While my wife wanted to hear my feelings, she didn’t want to shoulder my burden. While she was an expert at showing me compassion, she wouldn’t and couldn’t solve the issues I faced. And while she had a deep understanding and intuition that healed me, I needed to fight the battles myself. As per the lessons I gleaned from Sunday morning cartoons, at the end of the day, I would be on the front lines, not her.
This is not to say I could have done it myself—far from it.
With her smile, understanding, and unequivocal support, I battled through the most challenging times in life, one day at a time. Her open arms, love, and confidence soothed my wounds and recharged me for the next hurdle. As my teammate, she gets full credit for the confidence and strength I needed to overcome the obstacles we faced head-on. And while I was battling outside the home, she held down the fort, protecting our children like the fiercest momma bear.
Everything in the physical world reflects the spiritual, which is why men have broad, strong shoulders. We are responsible for protecting our wives, families, and the world. But underneath our shoulder blades lay our heart, which she wants to support and love. When we open up and let her in, instead of piling our problems on top of her, she gives us exactly what we need—the confidence and encouragement to go out and fight for her, to be her hero, for another day. 🙏💚