Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On Becoming a Man

Back in August, my son applied for college -- last week he was accepted. So after he finishes his senior year at high school, this time next year he'll be taking his next step to becoming a man.

That got me thinking ... when did I go from being a boy to a man? Was there a specific moment in time, a rite of passage? Or was it more of a continuum where I gradually left my childhood behind and embraced manhood?

For me it was more of a continuum. It started as a 12-year-old standing in front of the church at confirmation to claim the Christian faith as my own. Next, came my first driver's license, then my first job, then a high school diploma. Each step along the way I made another transition into manhood, but still I never quite felt I was entirely there.

College acceptance came after that, with my confidence growing as the list of completed classes grew larger. Finally, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma. But that didn't make me feel like a man because I was still living at home.

For me, the mental shift took graduating from seminary and moving out of state to take my first call as a pastor. Finally, I had cut the cord to my parents and paid my own bills from my own paycheck. Finally, I felt like a man.

This sense of manhood was heightened the day I got married; it was awakened again two years later when I looked down into the wondering eyes of my newborn son. I felt more a man after each one of those joy-filled events than I had before.

There were other poignant moments in my life that stand out too. I think burying my father and then, years later, my mother, were two more big steps in becoming my own man.

Now I'm in my mid-50s, standing firmly on what I hope will be a slow, gradual slide toward old age and all the problems that come along with an aging body. I can't help but think of senior men I visited 20 years ago in the parish. These were guys who told me with sadness how they felt like half the man they used to be -- and all because they couldn't manage the routine physical things they use to do like mowing the lawn, doing odd jobs around the house, or tossing a football around.

It makes me wonder: will there ever come a time when I'll truly feel like a man?

The answer to that may well be "not in this life." But, that being said, I am confident of one thing: while full manhood may elude me in this world, by the grace of God I'll know it completely in the next.

When did you feel like you arrived as a man? Go here to tell us what you think: click here!

1 comment :

The Layman said...

A great way to connect better with men who are still wondering when ... they are? I find this well written and you have listed many of the MAN MARKERS along life's journeys. Along with manhood comes the all important attitude adjustments that mellow out the boisterous ;-) wannabe? I have looked back from time to time, but I have been trained to set attainable goals, spaced like rungs on a ladder.