On Abs

I have never understood our culture’s obsession with physical attractiveness.

When I was in 5th or 6th grade listening to a bunch of my classmates talking about a boy who was “cute” (actually pronounced “keeewwwt” in a high squeaky voice), I interjected something like, “but you don’t even know him.” I couldn’t understand how someone could appear attractive when they knew nothing of his character.  They in turn looked at me like I was speaking Russian — or Martian. It didn’t fit within the scope of their understanding, and I knew at that point that I was probably from another planet.

Today, male attractiveness generally seems to center around “six pack abs.” I’ve been around swimming pools enough to know what six pack abs are, but do they define someone’s attractiveness?

For Father’s Day, I’d like to suggest a different set of abs, abs that are truly attractive.

1.  ABsolutely Present — I’ll never forget being in 3rd grade and winning the spelling award.  (I beat Jack Harvey, no small accomplishment).  From the stage, I looked out over the gymnasium full of children sitting on the floor, and parents lining the back wall, and I saw my father.  He had taken time off work to see me receive a 3rd grade award.  Bud has done the same when our children have won things.  A father who is present in his children’s lives is pretty darn handsome, especially to the little girl he’s there for.

2.  ABle to ABsolve —  Forgiveness is a difficult struggle for so many.  A man who can forgive, even when wronged in the worst possible ways, is incredibly attractive.  When my mother was in her sharp-tongued angry stage of Alzheimer’s, my father was so patient, so loving, so forgiving of all the harsh things she said.  What an example!

3.  ABundant in Praise — Philip had a tee ball coach named Wayne, a man I would daresay was not thought to be physically handsome.  I’d even go so far as to say he was rather funny looking.  His hair was scraggly;  his teeth were crooked;  he was built like a bean-pole.  But when he was coaching those 5 and 6 year old boys, he melted my heart.  Never an angry word.  Never anything but encouragement from his mouth.  I will forever remember him, big smile on his face, kneeling down to talk with one little boy who ran around the bases in the wrong direction.  “You ran such a straight line!” he said.  Encouragement and praise — beautiful.

4.  ABirritant — This is a big word that means soothing.  It is compassion.  Is there anything handsomer than a father who gets down on one knee and holds a crying child?  Yes, and gets snot on his shirt and maybe blood from a boo-boo.  Compassion in action is such a beautiful thing.  Bud is the one in our family who removes splinters and empties the throw-up buckets.  I love him for it.

5.  ABsolutely principled —  When my father coached Little League, he had, for many years, the losing-est team in Cooperstown Little League history.  I should know — I was his score-keeper.  Players either groaned or were delighted when put on the Cooperstown Dry Cleaner team.  They groaned because they knew in all  likelihood they would have a losing season.  They were delighted because they knew they would never sit the bench for the whole game.  Every boy on my father’s team always played at least three innings of every game.  My father’s principles of fairness far out-weighed his desire to win a trophy.   (In the end, I think he did finally win the championship too.)  Having principles and sticking with them– you don’t see that very often these days, but, man, is it attractive!

6.  ABat-jour — a French word for a skylight, literally, it “throws down the daylight.”  A man who can shine the light of Christ into his family is the most attractive of all.  I’m thankful for a husband who loves God!

So there you have the qualities I find most attractive — present, forgiving, encouraging, compassionate, principled, and Christ-like.

I don’t know about Brad Pitt, but I do know that my father and my husband both are quite dashing.

Happy Father’s Day to both of you.

My father with two of his grandsons

Bud snuggling with Laurel.

My father, me, and my husband — taken Father’s Day 2012

5 thoughts on “On Abs

  1. Oh, Sally! I love your definition of “abs.” And I agree–they are the abs that are the most attractive in a man.

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