Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“You have to understand—men don’t let down their guard easily. They don’t let their guard down with other men unless they are very close…The only time a guy’s guard is completely down is with the woman he loves. So she can pierce his heart like no one else.”
“For Women Only—What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men,”
Shaunti Feldhahn (Multnomah Publishers, 2004)
The words came out that morning in bursts through streams of tears as I sat trembling on the edge of our bed.
“Lynda, quick…go get Nathan…right now!” I knew it was finally the time.
Immediately she understood and dismissed, in her usual stride, the urgent tenor of my voice. She knew I was still trying to learn how to be the father to my son that I longed and needed to be. It had been a journey of fits-and-spurts and trial-and-error, learning a better way than my own personal experience while growing up as a child. The better way came through the example of others, especially her, helping to guide me to be the father to my son which God needed me to be.
“Hurry up, hurry up…go get Nathan!”
Lynda had shared with me, a few days earlier, that our then seven-year-old son Nathan had come quietly to her with a heavy concern—wondering if his daddy ever cried. The concern was on target, because in the seven years since his birth he had never seen me cry. I never did in front of him. She knew it was part of my carefully maintained and thorny hedge she had finally been allowed behind, but no one else. Not even him. It was a way of protecting myself from being hurt, if no one ever saw weakness.
And so as I sat there on the edge of our bed crying for reasons unimportant today and long since forgotten, I decided it was time to let one of the protective walls down. Through those tears, I knew it was time to let him see me, real, feelings exposed, vulnerable and sensitive.
It was a risk I needed to take for him and for me, and a leap of faith for one who always kept those feelings—which might expose a weakness or a chink in the armor of the impregnability of my image as a man—well hidden. Steeling my emotions within a keyless vault had served to protect me through the years from further harm, but in the process had made me less of a man than my Creator had intended for me to be.
But Nathan needed to begin to experience all of what being the man God was creating him to be should be like. And as we held each other, with his mom watching approvingly, our now mutual tears turned to smiles and then laughter, as a pathway through my hedge began to open for him and others.
My friends, it’s a sad reality of life that in trying to be a spiritual leader, supporter, and strong rudder for our families while also setting our course in a world that seems to respect only resumes, trophies, things, wealth and achievement, we often miss becoming all that God created us to be. Sensitive, vulnerable, open and honest with all of who we are and all of what we feel. Yet we too often keep the walls up for whatever reason—past hurts, feeling we have to prove ourselves worthy to someone, trying to be what the world says we should be to be successful. And when we do that, we also become distant, hard to reach and unapproachable, to all those around us who need a safe place to land, to trust and to learn.
I’ve seen too many dads who never hug, never kiss their children; never say I love you, with the rationalization because that was how they were raised. You’ve seen it, too. I might ask, as I heard a famous talk show host ask someone recently, “So, how’s that working for you?”
And how do you suppose it’s working for those who never get the hug or kiss or any words of “I love you?” We’ve all been to too may funerals where children and families walk away crying, not just for their loss at that moment, but for all the lost years spent never really getting to know that person, who had occupied such an important place in their life.
Maybe it’s time, no matter your age, to open up. To become all that God created you to be, not just a supporter, protector, husband, father and friend, but all that He created you to be as a man, including the sensitive, vulnerable and open parts of you. Allowing you to experience all the fullness of life God intended for you to experience and intended for those around you to enjoy.
In the forty-seven years that Lynda and I have been married, and will celebrate that anniversary tomorrow, she has been instrumental in teaching me how to be the father I need to be. I am grateful and even more than that—when she began to see all of the warts of my life as I let her in—she never left.
And if you need that kind of assurance—an encourager and guide to help you take that leap of faith, to stand with you as you open your life up and let the walls down a bit to be all He created you to be—remember the God who created you is always there with you as you do.
He made you to be—who He made you to be. And in the process, He will guide, encourage and direct you, and will never leave you as you continue to become all He created you to be—for your good, the good of others around you, and for His glory.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2014. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.