“There’s no love for a poor man,” ahhh, now there’s a Google search term that just broke my heart. It isn’t true, you know, there is lots of love for a poor man, poor in riches, but well off in spirit. I married such a man, on purpose, and it was the best decision I ever made. He has a good heart and soul, comes from a large family, and built himself a business that has always kept food on the table and the lights on. How can I not admire such a man? He’s made something out of nothing. Besides having raised four kids, we’ve taken trips, gone camping, bought a house, had some great fun and good memories.
One of the best things about my job is that I get to work with a lot of widows and widowers and they tell me the most beautiful love stories, the stuff of fairy tales and romance novels, and yet very raw and real. They speak to me of how “he didn’t have two sticks to rub together” not “two nickles to his name” and yet they knew he was the one. They tell me tales about the Great Depression and WW2 and how they started with nothing, how poor they were, how they put their babies to sleep in dresser drawers.
The men tell me about having spied the most beautiful creature they had ever seen, about being scared and yet being hopeful. Some who never doubted for a moment that she would love them back, and some who doubted so much they rubbed their eyes every morning wondering if she was for real.
In hospice work they like to give you helpful handouts designed to comfort those in the grieving process with some useful “facts.” One such fact is that when you lose your wife or husband you tend to idolize and idealize them. A woman in her 90’s with the language of a sailor, told me that was a bunch of hooey. “I worshipped the ground he walked on while he was alive,” she said. “It’s only now, for the first time in my life I’m angry with him because he left me.” Painful stuff, but bittersweet, too. We have a great capacity to love.
That search term got to me because I know how important it is for many men to provide, to have a sense of self-worth that comes from their work. I see the toll a bad economy and limited opportunities take on men. Yes, women suffer too, but there is just something so innate to men that makes their work important to them. It goes farther than simple provision, it becomes a part of their identity, how they define themselves, their sense of self-worth and value. Pride, the good kind, often comes from having work you enjoy and being employed.
Times are changing and in spite of all the hype, the economy is not doing so well. Businesses are collapsing, people are being laid off. It is tough out there and there is collateral damage strewn about all over the place. We in the current age do not have the same economic opportunities all my widows and widowers had. It is far more challenging for us even earn a living let alone to rise up from poverty and create what our parents or grandparents did.
We are not our wealth or our work. We are not even our ability to produce and provide, we are so much more and we are all greatly loved. These are hard times that call for many of us to become rich in spirit, to store our treasures up in heaven. Traditionally men have often gotten their identity, their value, through their ability to provide and to provide as lavishly as possible. That is The World however, the materialistic way we learn to define ourselves. That is not who and what we are, that is not what God sees in us.
Now here’s something that men could actually learn from women, “work” is not always about money, work is about what we do and who we are and how we love.
It’s a serious issue, lots of suicides out there, financial stress breaking up families, young men feeling lost and unsure what their role is supposed to be. Be gentle with yourselves and oddly, look to your mothers and grand mothers. They are the one’s that understood that “work” is not always about money and that being “poor” does not have to mean being poor in spirit.
So, there’s no love for a poor man, yes, yes there is. All those great romantic stories I am so blessed to hear, all those long and happy marriages, began with a poor man who was greatly loved.