Nourish. How…manly? Does it make you pause to read those two words together? Nourish and manly—if anything it seems comical doesn’t it? Nourish sounds too much like nurture, too much like comfort, too un-rugged, too un-manly for them to be paired. Ask a man to describe himself. Go and find one close by and ask him to describe himself. (It’s ok, I’ll wait…)
My guess that he didn’t say he was a nourisher (Yeah, I get a red line under the word, so even Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize it). Men are proud to describe themselves as providers, hunters, heavy-lifters, grunts, bulls, etc. Emblems of power and might. Stalwarts of balance, competition, and success. But, to say they nourish? No, that can’t be a part of the manhood vocabulary, can it?
It certainly caught my eye as I was reading Ephesians 5:29 this past week. Paul writes in part, “The husband’s role is to nourish and tenderly care for his wife”, his family, his body. Sometimes the men in our lives are less then tender aren’t they? They may be abrupt, callous, or curt. They may be silent when we need to hear from them or away when we need them near. Maybe they’re even emotionally distant when we need them to be open and honest.
So, what does Paul mean when he says the husband must nourish his wife. In truth, I don’t think it means that he needs to unhook his machismo or uncork his competitive juices. I think nourishment means to be aware of and care for the needs of his spouse and family. I think it means that he tends to his family as a shepherd tends a flock—providing, cleaning, leading, stroking, comforting, listening, knowing, and forecasting. Nourish doesn’t mean wimping out when times are tough. The nourishing husband senses imbalance in the family and works to achieve balance, harmony, and faith within the family. Look at your husband or the men in your life. Are they already nourishing in their own way? Hunting is a sport, for sure, but it’s grounded in providing for the family. The long hours on the job certainly aren’t just for his own thrills, but they’re giving his family a hand up. The absorption of thought and feelings aren’t a slight against his wife as much as they are an impulse to protect others from what’s inside of him. Isn’t that nourishment too? God created men for good. Seek out the good in the men in your life and share it with them. Tell them how you see them nourishing you. In the end, perhaps your relationship, or your men, may need a bit of nourishment too.