I hope he doesn’t mind me doing this, but I have a stepson who is going through some stuff right now. And while on my walk yesterday, I felt God put this message on my heart for him. I’d like to post it here as well because I know that there are so many young men who need to hear it. I realize that young black men aren’t exactly my target demographic, so anyone who wants to should feel free to pass it on as they see fit. I just ask that my name be included.
Andrew, I saw your post from earlier and wanted to check and see if you are OK. I have been meaning to write you anyways because yesterday when I was out walking, God put a message on my heart that I think he wanted me to pass on to you. It’s about how important you are. I’m sure you’ve been told before that you are important, but I’m also sure that you don’t actually believe it or have any idea how true it is. You can’t. Because no matter how often you may have been told that you are important, so much of what you have seen in real life has told you that men, black men in particular, are only problems. You’ve never consistently seen men be important and good. You’ve seen women raise their kids without fathers and carry the majority – if not all – of the financial load for their families. And this isn’t to rip on your mom, but her choosing to keep your dad from playing a meaningful role in your life must have screamed to you that fathers were optional. And if your own father is optional, then how could you not be as well? But nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are you not optional, you are absolutely essential.
We talked earlier in the week about trashy girls trying to find love in ways that will only leave them angry and bitter and alone and probably with a kid or two in tow to boot. But even with young women you know who aren’t trashy, how many of them know what it’s like to be loved properly by their fathers? They may know that they don’t want to go the way of the bootie girls, but if they’ve never seen a man really love a woman (ideally their mothers), they don’t really know what to look for either. They are just smart enough to recognize a particularly ridiculous losing strategy. Even your own mother or other older women you know. How would they be different if they knew they were loved by a man who was good and who they could depend on? Would they be softer? More free? Strong without so many hard edges? Less defensive? Better mothers? None of the women you know can do for themselves or their children what you can do for them as a man. (And to be clear, this is hardly a black problem. Whites and Hispanics and Asians and purple people are all suffering from the same problem. Its just particularly acute in the black community. Which simply means that the black community is more ripe and ready for young men like yourself to bring change.)
Now, it’s not right or fair that you are coming onto the scene so late in the game that its been generations since it was common for families to work the way they need to work. And you have no one to show you the way. But when it’s most dark and its most desperate, that’s when the heroes start to show up. And that’s what you are called to be: a hero. Which probably sounds overwrought and ridiculous. But its not. Just by committing to being a good. loving man, you will change the world in ways that will reverberate through communities and generations and heaven itself. Your children and the woman you commit to will depend on it. And there will be girls who see you and know what they should be looking for when they seek a loving man. And there will be boys who see you and know that they too can be better and do better and that they really are important. There will be other men who are ready to quit who will see you and get the shot of courage they need to try and stay the course. And in time, as others in this generation take up the work of being good. loving men, the rest of the world will see those with no role models and no reward doing things differently and maybe the rest of us won’t have to go as deeply down the hole of family destruction and expendable men as what has been pretty normal for you and your peers. This is really important work that only young men like yourself like you can do. You’re like Frodo with the ring or Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vadar; only you can do what needs to be done to set things right.
And its not going to be easy. Most of us have this fantasy that if we are doing the right things, the people around us will see it and applaud it and God will give us favor. In reality, the opposite is true. If people see what you are trying to do, they will be suspicious. They will insist that they don’t need or want what you are trying to offer because they don’t trust it or think that they’ve been getting along just fine without you or any other man. Some guys who don’t want to have to work that hard or be that serious and deny themselves easy pleasures will be unhappy that you’re, as they say, “raising the price of pussy”. And you have to be really, really strong to do great things in hard times so the enemy will be allowed to interfere so that you can get strong enough fighting him off to persevere and finish the race. It’s hard. But we need you. Life cannot continue as it has been. You have suffered enough and seen enough people around you suffer to know that for life to continue as it has been is completely unacceptable. It cannot be allowed to continue to be this way!
I know you were brought up in the church, but I don’t have any real idea what, if any, relationship you have with God. But I do know that God specifically offers the things that you need. He is father to the fatherless. In Isaiah he says, “Can a mother forget the baby she has nursed at her breast? Even if a mother forgets her own child, I will not forget you. See, I have carved your name in the palm of my hand.” And he’s the role model you don’t have but need. Let me show you how this works in a way that may be helpful to you where you are at right now. From what I have seen, you seem to be someone who feels emotions very intensely. I do as well. There are moments when I feel like my pain is going to destroy me. God is the same way. There is a passage in one of the epistles where it says that Jesus prayed with loud cries and shouts. This is not the way that a happy, serene, untroubled man prays. Jesus went off to pray by himself regularly (a good example) and he would be so upset that his disciples sitting off at a distance could hear him crying and yelling at God. So, I follow Jesus’ example and bring my pain to God. Over and over and as dramatically as I need to. Its also helpful for me to realize that Jesus wasn’t too keen on being here sometimes. Because sometimes, I just don’t want to be here anymore either. It’s too hard and painful and unfair and the rewards are too meager compared to the suffering. Remember when Jesus asked how long he would have to put up with the fools he was surrounded with after one of the disciples said something particularly stupid? He knew what it was like to think that being here just wasn’t worth it. God doesn’t just know what you’re going through because he sees you going through it. He knows because he’s experienced it as well. And you can look to see how he handled things to figure out what you can do to overcome.
One last secret I’m going to pass on to you. Learn to pray for the right things. So often we are discouraged and lose faith because we are in dire need and we pray and nothing happens. Or we are doing the right things and find ourselves in a gutter instead of at the mountain top. I’m struggling with this right now and its heartbreaking and frustrating and I have no answers for it. But what I do know is that every spiritual blessing or gift I have ever asked for has been given to me. And when I needed to change some part of my character or heart, if I just kept bringing my failures to God and asking for his help to do differently, He changed me. Which is going to be vital for you. Because if love is what we do rather than who we are learning to be, it won’t last. Love has to come out of who you are learning to be or it will be crushed when its rejected or too hard or you fail again. But if its part of who you are, it will just keep coming up out of you until it has worked its magic.
So that’s the message I have for you. You can take it, leave it or run screaming from the crazy white lady who’s trying to tell you what to do! It’s up to you. But I have one last warning before I leave you alone. A hero doesn’t do things the way that everyone else does. So, please don’t think that what I’m telling you is the same old “men need to take up their leadership position” bullshit that people spout and humanity’s been trying for millennia. It doesn’t work. Your mission is to love. Pure and simple. And not the kind of love that says “this hurts me more than it hurts you” or “I did this because I love you. Now be grateful” or any of the other crap you’ve seen passed off as love. Love is patient, kind, forgiving, tolerant and rarely pushed to anger. It is not bossy or demanding or proud of itself. It doesn’t point out other’s mistakes, but notices what is good about them and builds people up for those good things. And it doesn’t quit. Which is why it always wins in the end. Because you don’t lose until you quit the game. And even if you quit the game, you can always go back in. Which is why I know that even someone like you who has already made mistakes and has no role model and has been told his whole life that people like you are more trouble than they are worth can do what God has given you to do.
Hang in there, Andrew!
PS I would highly recommend that you head over to my blog and take a look at a post I recently wrote called “Godly Submission”. What the church has taught about men and women and submission has done much more harm than good and I think you might find it helpful in finding a different way of understanding how to relate with women in this regard. Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pa4Ae-93