My grandparents had a small concrete basketball court in the backyard. Sitting right by the pasture, cows would chew grass while we were shooting hoops.
I threw and missed. My uncle yelled,
You throw like a sissy!
To give you some background, I come from a great line of athletes. Even though I was only in the 3rd grade at the time, I felt a big gravity. I clearly came up short in the family gene pool. I was incredibly skinny and uncoordinated. Here was just one more example. I was devastated.
That next fall, I failed miserably in basketball league. In school, I dreaded playing shirts and skins. Playing skins was the worst…it showcased my boney body and horrendous hoop skills. I quit and vowed never to play again. To this day, I’m terrible. I can now say this with humor.
Normally, when someone says I can’t do something, I excel just to spite them. But, the cut runs deep when it comes from someone you respect and look up to; a cut from family always hurts…especially at a young age.
I heard my friend Toure Roberts speak on masculinity this past weekend. He discussed how men constantly walk beside a ruler.
Do I measure up?
Often times, when we compare ourselves to others or to certain standards, we feel inferior.
One of my greatest sources of shame is when I recognize where I’m supposed to be, but come up miserably short. The destination seems like light years away, and I don’t even know where to take the first step. After turning circles in many directions, I finally take a seat in exhaustion.
When the task seems impossibly difficult, we often distract ourselves with the convenient and easy. Some may call it coping. Toure said, “To cope is to remove the possibility of victory where you are self-medicating.” Coping is super easy nowadays. Anything we think we need is virtually right at our fingertips.
Instead of planning, confronting our fears, going outside our comfort zones, uprooting shame, praying, brooding or contemplating, we take ourselves out of the race altogether. We end up paralyzed with fear, sometimes overcome with anxiety at the thought of even leaving the house. We might even develop an addiction.
Why do I write about masculinity? Because I acutely understand that great divide of transitioning from a boy to a man. For a long time, manhood seemed impossible to me.
But when I put the comparisons and expectation aside, that great divide became a simple step. It turns out I wasn’t far away. In fact, I had everything I needed within.
You are the ruler.
Maybe it doesn’t quite feel that way at this moment, but you have dominion over your life. You are called to be a king. But more importantly, you are the measuring ruler. You decide what you should measure up to. Manhood is a confidence that grows within, shaped and molded by the great men who walk before us…often mentors and fathers.
I get so many emails from guys who thought they’d experience rejection if others found out the truth. But in their honesty and authenticity, they discovered acceptance and a huge weight lifted off of their shoulders. The same is waiting for you.