I love men. I’m married to one. I love my man’s masculinity, his strength-physical and the strength of character. I admire his stoicism in whatever life throws at him. I trust in him, depend on him, and look up to him. He’s my favorite man.
For today’s purpose, know I am talking about a way different kind of man—not a bad one, just a misinformed one.
I remember back in the 90’s there was this movement calling men from in front of their tv’s to large stadiums of sweaty testosterone-thunderous men, praising Jesus together while they learned ways to stand up and lead their families with character and discipline. It was phenomenal. I’m too lazy to look up the numbers, but thousands upon thousands of men met in stadiums all over the country over the period of a few years. My own husband attended a few of these, and he returned from them profoundly and utterly changed. He was a wonderful husband when he left, but he came back on fire, blazing with light and joy and passion for Jesus and living a holy life. The fire spread to his friends, our church, community, and so on.
A few of my friends and I were so moved by the changes we were seeing that we decided to go to one of these events to serve however we could. We were open to anything, anywhere we were needed.
As the day approached, we realized we would have to leave around 3am to get to Indianapolis by 7am or so. We were excited. We were happy. There really is no joy that compares to giving time to help others and volunteer to make a difference in some small way.
I believe it was early spring in Indiana, which usually means cold as winter with an occasional glimpse of the sun. This special day was dmn cold. Not just a little cold. Dmn cold. On top of the cold, it was raining. None of us realized we would be working outside the entire weekend, so none of us were dressed for the weather. I had a wind-breaker on , a sweater underneath, jeans, sandals. My first memory of that weekend is jolting around in a golf cart that came to pick us up and take us to our stations. It was raining, as I have mentioned. The golf cart bumbled along with all six of us holding on to each other for balance. I was on an outer edge and as we hit each bump, muddy rain water from the damp earth splashed onto my jeans and coat. We laughed and laughed because otherwise I may have cried.
The golf cart driving man grunted at us to get out under a tent that said “Volunteers”. We found where we were supposed to go. None of us had eaten breakfast because they said all food all day would be provided for us women folk. We assumed we’d grab a quick breakfast before the day stared. The volunteer leader walked us to an area where six cash registers were set up in a tent with resources and books on how to be a good man piled everywhere. He pointed to the cash registers, just a few feet from the edge of the open tent. There you go. He said. No instructions. No encouragement. No food! My clothes were soaking wet at this point, my hands icicles. It was only 7am. We knew we’d be there well into the evening and the next morning as well.
We started ringing men up on the cash registers, smiling, nodding, telling them we hoped they were having a great experience, etc. Pretty much all of them were smiling and very kind. It was nice. I was really happy to be there. The air was electric with the buzz of revival and new life. It was palatable. It was also cold, very, very cold. The open tents created a sort of wind tunnel, so the air blowing at our backs was icy, rainy and freezing.
Around 10am, none of us had eaten yet. There was a table with muffins and orange Kool-aid on a table in a corner with a group of men who were volunteering in the tents stood around the table, consuming MANY muffins and as many cups of orange Kool aid as they wanted. We assumed this food was also for the women volunteers. I was afraid to ask, because the guy in charge of us was grumpy from the cold too. Finally. One of my friends asked him, and she relayed to us that “One trip” to the table was all that was allowed. We took turns waking to the table to grab a muffin and orange Kool-aid. The man hovered over the well stocked table of muffins, glaring his disapproval and obvious disgust at us eating the mana from his stock.
One by one we went, grabbed our little muffin, unwrapped the muffin paper, ate the two bites of muffin, then licked the muffin wrapper before throwing it in the trash, the man gazing with fiery eyes at us. After the third one of us went to the muffin and Kool-aid table, he began the questioning. “Is this your first trip? One trip to the table per person. Period.” With shaking and freezing hands, each woman replied a quiet “Yes”, grabbed a muffin and ran. He continued glaring at us while we rang up men buying stuff. We’d blow on our hands between each customer, trying to keep them from going numb.
We started to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. We did laugh and laugh. We were so hungry. There was no lunch. No more Kool-Aid. No more muffins. I don’t know how we did it, but we worked all day long until we went back to the hotel and fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow. I don’t remember eating that night.
Just as we closed our eyes, our alarms went of and it was 3am again, and time to get up and ready so we would be back to the stadium and in our places by 6am. Once there, it was the same routine as the day before. The muffin man held his place by the muffin table. We stoically marched one by one, careful to be seen taking our one and only one muffin and cup of orange Kool-aid. The muffin man truly did not like us. We were not men.
It was a joyful experience for all of us, despite the muffin man’s zealous and watchful eyes. It is obvious to me, that as well meaning as his own volunteerism was, he was missing the whole point of the men’s movement. We got it, the other men got it, but the muffin man did not.
Do you know the Muffin Man? If you do, pull out a chair for him, grab a plate of muffins and a pitcher of orange Kool-aid. Tell him he’s alright. He’s the best muffin table watching guy that ever was. Then maybe tell him it’s ok to share his muffins with the women.