We’ve all heard it — or said it — before.
I was abused by my spouse and for the first year after I left him my bitter heart said all men were the same: evil.
I have several male friends who were cheated on, and eventually dumped, by their wives — some of them losing custody of their children in the process. I hear them day after day bemoaning how all women are cheaters, no woman can be trusted, and they’re all just waiting for a chance to stab men in the back.
I hear basically the same comments about both sexes on a daily basis from friends, acquaintances, family…you name it. I’m sure you are bombarded, too, and maybe even a bit offended that you, a decent and well-meaning person, are lumped into these stereotypical generalizations.
There were several things that helped me overcome my extreme distaste in all men. The first was time. Looking back, I wish I’d realized that it was the first phase of a very long healing process and maybe I’d have kept my mouth shut and not hurt and offended all the decent men I had demeaned. But maybe not. It’s all factored on a learning curve, isn’t it?
Another thing that helped change my negative thinking was when I realized that we’re all created in God’s image and ultimately if I was putting all men down as dogs, what then had I been saying about their Creator? That wasn’t a pretty thought for me because I love my LORD and even in those dark and heartbroken years I never sought to disrespect my God.
The real eye opener, though, came when I realized my thoughts, words, and beliefs were affecting my children. I saw college-age Melody experiencing her first crush and when the young man rebuffed her, the immediate response was that all guys were the same. Stupid men. When she was eventually involved in her first committed romantic relationship and things were beginning to sour I heard similar comments about how all guys just want the same thing. I’m not saying this guy wasn’t after her for the wrong reasons…it was her generalizations and misperceptions that all men only wanted her for one thing that flipped the light switch in my brain and helped enlighten me as to what I was doing.
Then I started thinking about my sons. I have remarkable boys. I’ve raised them to be polite, respectable, dependable young men with good character. How would I react — and how would my boys feel — if the young ladies called them lying, cheating dogs without ever first knowing who they really are? My boys would have to hold me back from girls like that because I’d be quick to tell them what I thought about the aspersions they were casting.
Meeting Atticus also helped restore my belief that there are very good and decent men living, breathing, and walking among us. We were both hurt so badly by our spouses that we placed no expectations on each other, we were just thankful to have a true friend we could count on. That friendship was the foundation for the eventual relationship that blossomed. It’s still the best part of our marriage, knowing that he’s my best and closest friend and that we are there for each other. Always.
My all-men-are-the-same attitude came from the abuse I suffered but I’m going to tell you something I haven’t shared before, not even with Atticus, but mostly because Atticus knows without my having to say this to him: my negative and hateful attitude towards men was perpetuated by me – on purpose – because it was a safety mechanism. If I hated all men, I never had to let anyone near me, and to me that translated to living safely. I wore that bitterness like my 4-year-old wears her blankie around the house — for security and comfort.
There was a time I finally gave in to the understanding that not all men are evil and accepted that the blame for the abuse and the damage it caused needed to lie only on the shoulders of the one who hurt me. When I let God guide me I was able to eventually love a wonderful man. It was a process, but the healing has been a blessing.
I have a thought if you are one of the people who keep saying all men or women are lying, backstabbing, cheaters. Maybe you’re thinking that because those are the people you keep associating with or drawing to you. Perhaps you need to do some healing, stop chasing what you want and pursue God — I mean in a full-out sprint. He’s waiting for you. When you’re on track, He’ll allow the right people into your life. That’s what happened for Atticus and me.
It’s a shame and a waste to pigeonhole everyone. We are all unique, we are all on different journeys, and we are all at different stages of those expeditions.
Most of all, we all need a bit of grace.