(Written in January, 2008. A more current post is forthcoming. Thank you for your patience.)
I can stroll down a sidewalk, through a store, or sit in a restaurant, and I can see defeat. I can read it on the faces of the men around me.
I see successful businessmen, wallets stuffed with money, wondering what it’d be like to simply walk away from it all and live in a cave.
I see affluent men, surrounded by a cadre of assistants, associates, and admirers, wondering what it’s like to have one good friend.
I see other men, heads usually lowered, staring at the ground, trudging like surrendered troops to a prison railcar. They never amounted to much, they know, and they will die soon – nobody will remember.
I see others, loud men, making others laugh, engaging friends, attracting attention – merely because it helps paint over the fact that they feel empty.
I see husbands and fathers waking up and going to work because that’s what men always do. They go to work. And then they come home, go to sleep, and rise just to do it again.
I see men devoting every act to attracting women because it makes them feel alive, but still realizing that to love but one takes more humility than they can muster.
I see men turned inside of themselves, having raised the flag of surrender to the nagging fear that they have failed, that they exist to make money to live in a house which they will leave every morning to go to work to pay for. Hollow, numb, alone. They have interred their hearts in shallow graves, accepting as a matter of course little more than continual disappointment.
Men gave up.
We walk about with a continual feeling of death, every dream unrealized, every adventure cast aside as silly boyhood imagination, and the evil one applauds his success. He cast doubt and it took root.
Men are fearful. We are afraid that we will not earn the title man. We search an eternity for something that breathes life into our hearts, but are interminably disappointed with the outcome.
We forget who made us men.
We smothered the righteous anger and a strong sense of justice, because it was startlingly violent and it scared us. But we are made in the image of God.
We chose to stop daydreaming about adventure, because that’s not what adults do these days. But we are made in the image of God.
In His image, we are men.
No amount of highly masculine activities will confirm in our hearts that we are truly men.
It is not carrying a gun, for when we don’t carry it we feel powerless. And eventually, even while carrying it, it will occur to us that we hide behind it, and that we feel but briefly authoritative when we brandish it.
It is not wearing a uniform, because that is simply an outward show of pomp, shiny bits of metal that supposedly indicate achievement. And without that uniform, we are indistinguishable from everybody else. It was as temporal as a peacock’s tail feathers.
It is not great eloquence, because when we are alone with those we truly care about, we have nothing to say. Speaking great words permits us to not show our empty hearts.
It is not beautiful storytelling, because we hide behind our own characters. They are whatever our imagination chooses them to be, but we cannot control a single person in reality, and hardly even ourselves.
It is not a badge, because without it we soon feel as though we have no authority. It masks the pervasive hunch that nobody listens to us.
It is not carving out a living in a cabin deep in the woods, because we are alone at night, and it is miserable.
It is not money, because we are unhappy with what we buy and grow bored of it.
It is not helping others, because that only temporarily diverts our attention to how much we desperately need to be helped ourselves.
It IS resting in God – in whose image we are made. And He redeems us into men.
So keep dreaming, because we are made in the image of God.
Find peace in nature, but don’t forget the Creator who spoke it into existence.
Speak up for what is right, because God did it.
Stop pausing to see if others will approve, and instead press forward.
Just go. And take God with you.
Manhood isn’t typing budget reports, but nor is it hunting moose deep in the wilderness. It is not starting a fire with flint and steel, and it is not taking good photographs. It is not fine craftsmanship, and it is not physical strength. It is not finding a beautiful wife, and it is not fashioning moccasins from animal hides.
It IS resting in God, in whose image we are made.
And so long as we continue to draw breath, there is still an adventure to be lived. Just go, and take God with you.
Not every dream will be lived, and most will fall far short of expectation, but better to try and fail, than to question having never tried at all. Better to dream and hope than accept continual disappointment.
Life is an adventure and we are men, because we are made in the image of God.
Live, hope, dream, love, speak, and remain silent – and do so dangerously. For you are made in the image of God.
He spoke and they killed Him, yes; but it is better to die but one death boldly, than to cower daily in fear of it, to live in the perpetual state of dying, to shut down one dream at a time, until we have nothing left but our body, which will pass away to dust quite soon.
Live. Just Go. And take God with you.
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
All Rights Reserved