We all want control. Americans especially want control. We even have multiple departments of our federal government (CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, National Security Council, etc.) dedicated to the procuring, enforcing, and defense of the illusion of control for Americans and US interests. But control is just that… an illusion. Sometimes our ability to maintain the illusion lasts for a while. We secure health insurance and life insurance. We pay extra for increased safety features on our vehicles and strap our children into car seats that could protect them from a nuclear blast. Even our cigarettes have a disclaimer on them so that we know just exactly what we are putting on the line when we light up. But eventually the illusion of control is taken away from most of us, sometimes violently so. A car wreck, a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, a child’s unexpected sickness, a parent’s death can all tear away the idea that we are in control of our lives or of those that we love.
But some helpful reflection on something we all do every day, should help let us down a little easier… Continue reading
A few months ago, my thirteen year-old son and I read a book together entitled The Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World of Counterfeits by Darrin Patrick. Having read not a few things on the topic myself and judging a book by its cover (a practice which is not altogether bankrupt as it turns out), I was pleasantly pleased with Patrick’s very readable book. In my opinion, the highlight of the book was chapter 8, “Say, ‘I Love You, Man’: The Connected Man”. I know this sounds like the biggest fruitcake chapter of them all, but Patrick absolutely nails the modern man’s propensity to be disconnected, overly-independent, uninvolved, and anonymous when it comes to our male friendships and the heavier matters we all deal with in life. He says on page 112, “Sometimes people drift away, but a lot of times a crisis or disagreement drives them away… It takes perseverance to face hard conversations, poverty and wealth, good times and bad… Perseverance means fighting through each others failures — the hurts, the brokenness — and enduring the wounds in order to cultivate a relationship.” In my experience as a pastor working with other men, maintaining a certain relational independence and anonymity toward male friends is an extremely dangerous situation, allowing our lack of perspective as individuals to grow in unchecked and unhealthy directions. But a man with true friends — not fans or drinking buddies but other men who won’t let us go off the rails without slapping us with the truth of where we are headed — is a rich man indeed.
I can see this book used as a somewhat of an evangelistic tool. Patrick has allowed the book to be “scripture lite” for the first ten chapters so as not to come off as preachy or “for Christians only”, but his last two chapters help the reader to see Jesus as the True Man and Hero we are called to follow (chapter 11) and yet how we all fall short and must start the path toward masculinity as forgiven men (chapter 12). But quite possibly the greatest value I experienced as a result of reading this book were the really good conversations that it stirred up with my son.