"Anything we're in denial about, we empower to destroy us."
These gems were just a few out of the many I wasn't quite prepared for Hollywood producer, preacher, and author DeVon Franklin to drop during our interview. And if our conversation is any indication of what his latest book, THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN: What Men and Women Need To Know, has in store, then we're all in for a lot more.
It's nearing peak brunch hours when our conversation kicks off, but instead of indulging in pancakes and eggs, we're both digesting the pitfalls and issues when it comes to the topic of toxic masculinity. The masculinity that uses "boys will be boys" and "men will be men" to excuse and justify problematic behavior and attitudes of men towards women. The masculinity that causes many women to be harassed and harmed at the hands of those who proclaim to love and honor them. It's the type of masculinity the Hollywood Commandments author says is time out for.
"One of the reasons why I wanted to write this book was to redefine what manhood is and what it should be," he says. "And to also address the manhood of the future. For me, it was the question of what do we do about this? How do we fix this problem? It's a massive problem and it's affecting every area of our society. And that's what compelled me to find the answer."
For DeVon, addressing the issue isn't so much about pointing the finger at men in blame and judgment, it's about helping men acknowledge that the issue exists, accept it as a problem, and become devoted to finding and implementing solutions. And the root of it all? An unchecked lust problem. So aptly named "the dog", he tells me that the challenge of trying to train and master lust is a feat that takes explicit awareness and honesty, something he believes that men aren't necessarily socialized or conditioned for. He explains that there's a sense of entitlement that comes along with how manhood is taught, which makes it hard for men to take an honest look at themselves in the mirror. And that's a problem that even he himself wasn't exempt from. Citing the revelation of his own father's infidelity as the catalyst, he reveals that his journey with how he learned to deal with lust came with many brutally honest moments.
"There were times when the mirror was put in my face and I didn't like it. It can be very daunting. But before you or I can make change in our life, it starts with accepting the very thing we wish didn't exist. So when it comes to the area of lust, it's not something that I even wanted to accept. But once I was able to accept it and say, 'This is in me, it's a part of me,' it really laid the foundation for me to begin to deal with it. How do I train it, how do I master it, how do I not let it master me?"
"Once I was able to accept it and say, 'This is in me, it's a part of me,' it really laid the foundation for me to begin to deal with it. How do I train it, how do I master it, how do I not let it master me?"
He continues, "A lot of the problems we go through, as men especially, is because so many of us are unwilling to accept that we aren't everything that we want to be. But it doesn't mean we can't become the man we really want to be. That acceptance piece is critical because it's one thing to acknowledge a problem, but it's another to accept it. Not with a defeated attitude but with an attitude that says I'm ready to do something about it."
And perhaps it's that candidness that draws men and women alike to not only his personal story but the joint love story of him and his wife Meagan Good. After co-authoring The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love in 2015, DeVon and Meagan found themselves at the center of the often-discussed topic of waiting to have sex before marriage. And while that particular practice is just one illustration of the broader concept of delayed gratification, it's something that many people connected with.
DeVon shares that one of the reasons he and Meagan continue to be open about the ins and outs of their relationship is because they want people to keep the faith when it comes to finding love. They want men and women to know that obtaining a healthy love, while at times difficult, is something that's in reach for everyone. They want people to realize that love isn't just a four-letter word. It's a state of existence, a spirited experience, and a steadfast evolution that embraces the heart, mind, and soul.
"What Meagan and I want people to do is not give up on love. We feel compelled to say this is what we did, this is what you can do, and this is how you should do it. Not in a way that comes across as know-it-alls or experts, but just in the way of sharing our lives as authentically as we can so that people will know love is possible. It's a process but it is possible."
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"What Meagan and I want people to do is not give up on love. We feel compelled to say this is what we did, this is what you can do, and this is how you should do it."
So what is a person to do should they decide to become serious about the process of finding love in 2019? While that may be a lofty question, DeVon Franklin definitely has a few answers he feels should help. "Look, I'm just one person, I'm not going to sit up here and pretend like I have all the answers because I don't. But what I do have, I want to share."
In no particular order but arguably the most important thing is to have the right mindset in your singleness. Know that there's nothing wrong with being single and you should have confidence and a peace about yourself before you dive headfirst into the dating scene. Next, he advises to never just take someone's word for who they say they are. "Allow the dating situation time so that the person can be revealed. So often you meet someone and within 1-2 months of talking you're ready to go, but you haven't given that situation enough time for them to truly reveal themselves."
With that, he also adds to be careful not to create unrealistic and unspoken expectations. When we do that, it can unnecessarily put pressure on a relationship that was never intended to be there in the first place. He continues, "But when you do have realistic expectations, make sure you communicate that. Go to them and inform them of what you're thinking about and ask: Can I expect this from you? And be prepared for their answer."
Along with that, he vehemently expresses the importance of being patient, as well as enjoying the journey that comes with the day-to-day dealings in a relationship. And as we wrap, he leaves me with one final advisory warning that both men and women alike should be privy to: stay out of the gray area.
What is the gray area, you ask? It's the area where you're unsure of the other person's intentions. It's an area where it's easy to assume, based off certain behaviors, that we may be further along in a dating situation than we really are. It's an area where, in order to side-step, we must be willing and ready to ask direct questions. "The gray area leaves you vulnerable because the other person knows what's going on and you don't," he says. "Ask clear direct questions and let them give you clear, direct answers."
"Don't let anyone keep you in a vague area so that they can manipulate you for their goals. For dating in 2019, it's about clarity and truth."
Amen and amen to that.
For more from DeVon, follow him on Instagram. Also be sure to check out his new book, The Truth About Men: What Men and Women Need To Know slated to release February 5, now available for pre-order.