Create & Cultivate

A horrible thing happened to me when I was 7 years old. The rain had just started, when my mother and I were in the kitchen making lunch. Chucky, my younger brother, was off participating in some sort of mischief playing as he was fond of doing. My father was outside welding on the car, which to this day has baffled me.  Mom asked me to go get him from outside and let me know that lunch is ready.

I ran outside to find his limp & lifeless body lying under the car. It was confusing and I didn't understand at the time that he was dead. I went and told mom, and the next thing I know we are running down the road to where my grandparents lived.  The rain had short circuited the welding machine and the car acted as a lethal conduit stealing my father's last breath.  From there on out, it was life without a father. My mother turned to alcohol, drinking as an escape to dull the pain. 

My brother and I were left to grow up on our own, leaving us to discover what it mean to be a man on our own. Sure there were men in our lives, but more often than not, they left a bad example, further supporting my mother's drinking habits. As far as I can tell, she met all of them in a bar.

It is no surprise then, that I entered into my marriage without a clear picture of God's intent for manhood. My definition was poorly defined, a piecemeal of sorts, as I sought out mentors in the congregations I grew up in. This week's reflection on authentic manhood, took me back to redefining my own manhood and touch on some sore points that accurately described me in the initial stages of my marriage.

Pulled straight out of Genesis, we see that man was designed from the very beginning to do two things: create & cultivate. Made in His image (Gen. 1:27), we reflect God's initial actions in the Garden. And ultimately, we see that Adam failed this image. He sat idly on the bench, while his wife was making the worst play in her entire life. At any point in time, Adam could have stepped in, put his foot down and lead his family in the right direction. This connects with me as I have seen some huge mistakes in my marriage that I could have prevented; some foxes in the vineyard who stole precious time, intimacy, & resources right from under our noses. And I watched idly as he did so.

While the story of the first man starts in Genesis, it doesn't end there. God was kind & loving, redeeming in his actions. While they were forced to leave Eden because of their sin, God clothed our fore parents and continued to help them prosper in a sin stained life.  Ultimately, God saw fit to extend that grace through Christ redeeming all of us from the first flaw (Romans 5:8) and through His example we can travel back to our original purposes.

In my own marriage, it has been difficult to navigate life without a clear definition of my role as a man. I am thankful for the grace Christ has shown during my many failures. I am striving to create & cultivate a life that reflects this grace, all the while communicating with my wife and especially my children what it means to have God has their Father, for He alone surpasses my mistakes and fills in the gaps dug from a life with an alcoholic mother and no earthly father. 

What about you reader? What do you see as the purpose of men in your life?