I am in love with a man, no, a legend! I love John Wayne, even my truck is named John Wayne. I have a life size John Wayne cutout in my living room. I have seen almost every John Wayne movie. I own most of the books written about him, when Christmas rolls around my friends buy me new John Wayne books and movies. I am pretty sure that I would marry him if I could and, well, if he was a little younger and still alive, but we don’t need to discuss that right now. My friends joke and poke fun at my admiration for him, but I think few of them know why I love this icon of Hollywood history. To me, John Wayne embodies the true American sprit. He also embodies the qualities of a real man, qualities I fear are dying out in our modern day world. Everything I read about him indicates that he was an incredibly hard working, strong, individual who was also very gentle, and a great father. The more I continue on the adventurous search of a modern day YSA for her eternal companion, the more I hope for a John Wayne-like character to remind me that chivalry lives on and that men and women are equally vital in our world and in eternity.
As I thought about my love for John Wayne I went back to the very beginning when we would watch his films as a family. To be quite honest this romance of a legend did not start out with the admiration I demonstrated previously. In fact, as a child, I found his films rather boring and dull. I remember as a small child I would sit with my daddy all excited for family movie time. He would often pull out McLintock, The Searchers, The Quiet Man or another great classic with great excitement, I would feel the boredom and annoyance set in. However, as I matured and the movies continued, like so many other classic romances, loathing turned to loving. Here I stand today, 25 years old and madly in love.
What is the exact cause for this transformation? I would say that it is a number of different reasons. The first being his what I would call “real man” character. A character that is becoming harder to locate in our day. There is a book that I love to read called “Wild at Heart” by John Eldredge, that illustrates this point of loss so perfectly. The book is about finding the real heart of a man. It's meant for guys but I think it's just as helpful for women, it helps us girls know how we can assist in renewing the hearts of our men. It also helps us see how we as wives, mothers, sisters, friends are de-masculating the men in our lives and how they are letting it happen. We live in a different society a society that is ruled by technology and appearances. The heart of a man, a heart of honor and chivalry, is being lost. I love John Wayne because most of his roles on and off screen embody that chivalrous heart of a man that is vital. His heart is dedicated to his country, his women, his fellow men, his family, and his God.
What about equality? That word is thrown around all too often in our world today. However, like in the Princess Bride, “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” My fellow ladies, if we allow men to have their hearts and be chivalrous are we letting go of our independence and right as women? No, we are allowing them access into their roles. Equality does not necessarily mean same. It often times is two different things working to an equal goal. To create the number five, you must add two different numbers. The roles of men and women are different but meant to be put together to equal a same goal.
The duties of real men and real women can be summed up for me in the example of a baseball team. Allow me to explain, when you play baseball you must have nine players in order to qualify. Well, the Lord has set his team against Satan. In baseball each position has a different responsibility and not everyone can be a catcher or a pitcher. Some may be outfielders, some are on base duty, but all are vital to play the game. Sometimes we don’t feel important as we stand in the outfield because we are not the pitcher. However, most times in baseball the best batters are the outfielders. When it comes down to it each player must do their different part in order to win the game.
Same goes for men and women, we all have different roles but each is vital to returning home to that God which gave us life. To me John Wayne gives an example of someone who played his position and played it well. I have seen others who have played their best in their position, and others who focused so much time on wanting to be the catcher or the pitcher, they let every ball that was theirs roll by. I think we have all seen these moments of boys who failed to be men and women who have failed to be women. We have also been in those moments ourselves. So allow us to take a step back and see where we sit... Boys are you pushing aside your duties and failing to be men? Girls are you snuffing off or degrading your gifts and failing to be real women?
All right, enough with negativity, the point has been placed, chivalry is a dying art, there seems to be no more John Waynes left in this town. On the contrary, as I have continued through my short 25 years I have had many negative stories of Non-John Waynes butI have had moments where my hope has been restored. I have had to look but I have found various “John Wayne” types in my life. Let’s start from the beginning, I mentioned that it was my dad who constantly played his favorite John Wayne films. Coincidence? I do not think so. I find it incredibly profound that the first “John Wayne” in my life is the one who got me started with this love affair. My father is not perfect by any means, but he has taught me incredible things about what a real man is capable of. He has taught me to be a real woman. He taught me how I should desire to be treated as a real woman. He was that dad who was in the living room sharpening a knife when my first date walked through the door, and I have had nothing but gratitude for him. The next “John Wayne” in my life is split into two fine men. These men joined me as boys in the living room of our mountain home as we watched those classic John Wayne films. These boys grew to men and I feel beyond privileged to call them my brothers. My two little brothers are bigger men than most that I have met. I used to fear that I was too picky in my choosing of an eternal companion, that the man I was seeking was a fictitious being. My brothers have proven time and time again that there are John Wayne’s left in this town and that my expectations are not too high. I am not looking for perfect, but I do know that there are “John Wayne” types left. There are other friends and acquaintances that re-kindled my hope for the continuation of the “John Wayne” way of life.
There are other “John Wayne” types I have fallen for that have helped me see the vital need for real and worthy men. On the spiritual side of things you have incredible men of God in the scriptures who uphold their priesthood and work for the will of a loving Heavenly Father. Men like the stripling warriors(Found in the book of Alma in The Book of Mormon). They took the lessons of their mother’s and went into righteous defense. Of course there is Captain Moroni, my other crush. He is an example of being a leader and a man of God. In Alma chapter 48:17 it says that if every man was “…like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” Of course the ultimate example that John Wayne himself took from was that of our Savior. He is the perfect example of chivalry, worthy priesthood holding, and what it means to have the heart of a man. With these examples, we move into a world that is in a growing desperate need of these real men examples.
So here's the challenge as we move forward in a troubled world. Boys you must become men, become a “John Wayne” for those around you. Go on adventures stop talking and start acting, fight for the damsel in distress, find your heart. Girls you must become women, don't just look for any boy look for a real man that will fight for you, and WITH you, and take you along on the adventure. Give them something to protect, back off let them be men and have their adventures and have their rights as men. In my opinion the way a women can show her true strength is by embracing her womanhood. By no means are you being weak. Look at Maureen O’hara in films like “The Quiet Man” or “McLintock” never was she dull, weak, or clingy. She showed nothing but fire, independence, passion, and love for her real man. Men keep in mind that a woman wants to be fought for but don't make the adventure all about her, bring her into your adventure. Become a team that fights together. As men and women learn to use their different gifts to fight in unison the world will change for the better.
I think this is my favorite passage from the book “Wild at Heart”: “'A women doesn't want to be the adventure; she wants to be caught up into something greater than herself.’ Our friend went on to say, ‘I know myself and I know I'm not the adventure. So when a man makes me the point, I grow bored immediately. I know that story. Take me into one I don't know.’" Isn't this what everyone, both men and women truly desire? As a strong independent woman I think that this statement is incredibly profound and true as I search for the “John Wayne” types around me. I resolve to be a real woman and to stand beside the “John Wayne” types in this world. I know that John Wayne is still left in this town.