I had funny ideas about masculinity while I was growing up, as most young men do.  In the beginning, I thought it was all about being tough and able to beat anyone in a fair fight that you should have occasion to spar with.  At the time, I thought it certainly consisted of standing up for yourself if someone should try to take advantage of you.  Over time, my ideas would change about what was masculine.  There were certain key events in my youth that I’m quite sure God had a hand in as He developed me into a man who would be useful to Him, a good servant leader, kind and compassionate to all, striving to be a good example, and giving my best effort to be a good husband and father.  I had a temper and a bit of a mean streak when I was younger, no doubt learned from my father who had quite a temper, although no one outside the home generally knew this; he was quite careful to only expose this side of him when we were at home.  In any case, my temper caused some grief to my sisters when we had our various fights.  In the beginning, my sisters were bigger than me and would take advantage of their size and the fact that they outnumbered me two to one.  In time, though, I would grow bigger and tougher due to the magic of testosterone.  But God orchestrated events that worked the cruelty out of me.  There were a couple of times in which I struck my sisters, bringing pain to them and tears to their eyes.  Their tears got through to my heart finally, convicting me, and I stopped resorting to violence to solve our quarrels. 

Another incident that really got to me was in middle school.  I was thirteen and in the eighth grade, which was the highest grade in the school.  During gym class, since we were the oldest, we would sometimes swagger around and push the younger boys about.  One day, however, I had pushed a boy who was in the next lower grade but still about my size.  He responded by punching me in the face.  I really do not know what happened next, but I know I became totally unglued, and the next few moments my mind went completely blank as I was consumed by rage.  I don’t remember anything about what I did, but when my mind came back to me, I had the younger boy down on the ground with one hand around his throat, and the other hand hitting him in the face.  I don’t know how many times I had hit him, maybe only a couple of times, but I know in my heart that I would have seriously hurt the boy had my coach not intervened.  His huge hand (the man was almost 7 feet tall) grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me off.  I think I got five hits from him that day as punishment at the end of the large wooden paddle he kept in his office in the gym (what basically looked like a small oar for a boat).  But although the strikes from this large man’s paddle did hurt, the thing that really left an impression on me was the fact that I had blanked out from the complete rage that consumed me. 

This really scared me.  I always vowed that I would not be like my father, controlled by anger, but that moment showed me that I was on the path to be just like him.  God convicted me deeply, letting me know that, if I did not change, in time I might seriously hurt or even kill someone.  So I vowed that I would never again lose control of my temper.  That doesn’t mean that I would never fight again, although in time, I even gave that up.  But I would never again fight out of anger.  The few fights that I had after that, I was completely in control of my emotions, and I only fought because I felt I had to.  Most of the fights I had in those days were usually not over something that someone had done to me anyway; they were usually fought on behalf of a friend that I felt someone had wronged.  I’ve always had a deep empathetic streak which makes me feel pain when I see others in pain and makes me want to fight whoever or whatever is causing pain to the people around me.  I’m sure it is a spiritual gift connected to the greatest of the spiritual gifts, the gift of love. 


And although I would never dream of striking another person now unless I was defending myself or a loved one against violence, this deep empathy and desire to fight against wrong and evil has remained in me to this day.  It drove me to get involved in the fight against abortion while we were living in Mississippi in the early 90’s, and it drove me to fight against corruption, incompetence, and abuse of power in the job that I was working in the government, ultimately losing my job after "blowing the whistle," which I am now fighting through the Merit Systems Protection Board (please pray for my victory in this fight so that my struggle on behalf of others would succeed).  I believe this is the true essence of masculinity, protecting those you love, fighting for the defenseless, and creating strength in others, not by use of force, but by creating places of safety and love where they can be themselves, be happy, and be successful.  True masculinity does not take away.  It builds up.  It stands in the gap for those who cannot stand for themselves, and it speaks up for those who have no voice.  Sometimes, it holds back strength, and it stays quiet and humble so that others may shine.  There is no shame in being humble.  It is the most noble and masculine thing in the world.  After all, our Savior had more power than any man ever had at His disposal, but He used it so sparingly, and always for an act of love or for the glory of His Heavenly Father.   

More on this tomorrow.  I pray you will have a blessed day. 
 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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