Men, Holding the Door Open Is Not Enough
“Hold the door open for your Grandmother, young man!”. My spunky Grandmother made it very clear that holding the door is something a man should do for others and she expected it from the men in her life. This is the same woman who, in her 90’s, said she didn’t need to walk with a cane into mass, but did so in hopes that “some good-looking dude would offer an arm to help her into the church” but I digress. She knew how real men should behave and she expected them to act that way. Therefore, holding doors for people when walking into a building, especially for women, has always been second nature for me.
But, have you ever stopped and thought why we do this? It’s not difficult. It’s not much of a sacrifice. It doesn’t take much time. Is it because it’s a nice thing to do? Sure, it is, but door stops, automatic doors, a hefty breeze, or a well-trained dog can hold a door open, too. What is so special about holding a door?! (Hint – it’s not about the door.)
God created men to sacrifice. Jesus tells us in John 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. And Men, we are called to imitate Christ. Just as Jesus was crucified and died for His bride, the Church (us), we must also die and sacrifice for others.
In fact, this is what men want. I don’t think it’s uncommon for a man to think about being the hero that sacrifices his own life. We may have this chivalrous dream of taking a bullet for someone or riding in on our trusty steed, suited in armor, sword drawn, guns blazing (in this dream, medieval knights had guns) to rescue the oppressed from their persecutors, potentially sacrificing it all.
But I’m sorry, the odds we die in that manner are probably less than LeBron James quitting basketball to go play in the MLB. Possible, but highly unlikely. Our call to sacrifice will probably come with a lot less glamour. Holding the door open for someone is a mere preparation for the larger sacrifices that will come in our lives. The virtue is not in the difficulty of the act, but in the disposition of your intent. It is the act of putting yourself second for the betterment of another.
We are going to be called to make a lot of sacrifices in our lives. These sacrifices can look like something as simple as not being able to play in a summer softball league like my brother learned after he and his wife started having children. It could be sacrificing your dreams of traveling in retirement because your wife becomes sick, as my dad has had to do. Maybe it’s having to use your evenings and weekends to fight for an education for your special needs son like my grandpa did back in the 1950’s. We are going to be called to sacrifice.
Are we willing to make those sacrifices? If the answer is yes, and I hope it is, how are you preparing yourself? Not only to be able to make them, but to make them joyfully. You may be thinking that you will have no problem answering the call of duty when it presents itself, but I can tell you from experience, it takes preparation. You can begin to make little adjustments now to help yourself be that man of joyful sacrifice, not for your own glory, but for the people in your life and for God.
Turn off the video games and clean the apartment, even if your roommates made the mess. Say no to that third burger at a BBQ. Pass on watching your favorite NFL team to make it to church. Spend a day of a weekend volunteering for a good cause.
Hold the door open for someone, not because it’s something you think you should do, but because it is an opportunity to practice a small, joyful sacrifice. Take time each and every day in prayer, asking God for the grace to be a man of joyful sacrifice. We all have good things we enjoy that we can put aside for a day for the good of ourselves and others. If you can deny yourself good things now when it isn’t required, you will have a more joyful disposition to answering the call of sacrificial love when it is demanded of you (and it will be demanded of you). Holding the door is easy, answering the call to sacrificial love is not. Jesus shows us how painful, yet joyful it can be, but Jesus isn’t the only example we have.
Find a man in your life whom you admire and whose life you want to emulate. Someone you have a personal connection with. Examine his traits. Ask yourself what you truly admire about him. What has he done in his life that has captured your attention? Apply that to your life! I guarantee fame, fortune, success – while they might have those attributes - aren’t the details of their life you admire most. Truly examine why you aren’t living like him and start making the little changes to start! What’s holding you back??
These men aren’t any different than us, they merely answered the call of loving sacrifice. If they are still alive, talk with them and learn from them. They have incredible wisdom! If they are no longer living, like my Grandfather whom I admire, talk to people who knew him best and learn more about his personality. I’m always amazed at the detail people have of my Grandfather’s life because he lived a life worth emulating - a life of service to his country and his family - and the people around him noticed.
We have these men in our lives whom we admire, have inspired us, and built us up. We also have men in our lives who have hurt us and torn us down – men who are selfless and men who are selfish. And you know what? I’m willing to bet both types of men have held doors open for people.
Holding the door open certainly is not enough, but the desire to die to yourself in the action is. It is in these small, seemingly insignificant sacrifices that we will be made saints and bring others closer to God. We have the ability to effectively change the world and begin to heal its brokenness that selfish men have caused.
It’s time to decide, men. Are you going to be the man that holds the door open and does no more, leaving the world as it is? Or are you going to be the man that holds the door open with the understanding that it is only a small step on the road to Christ like loving sacrifice, virtue, holiness, healing, and honor? The choice is yours, but the time is now.