I just want to start by saying that being a man is hard. If you’re a man and you don’t think so, well you probably haven’t actually entered manhood yet. See, it should never be a walk in the park. Manhood is an endurance race that takes a lifetime to run. But this race is worth it—through the ups and the downs. Let me speak evidence of that through a little of my story.
When I was young, boy stuff was easy. Imagination ran wild and so did I. I made friends easily. No one was my enemy. I was a good kid, a smart one, a studious one. I was loyal and nice and respectful to everyone I met, cause that’s how I was raised. I maintained an untainted childlike innocence for as long as I could before life got the best of me.
In 2012, everything changed—literally EVERYTHING. On Thursday, April 12, around 10 am, my older brother Josiah died unexpectedly. He was found dead in his car from a seizure that triggered a fatal heart attack. His heart just stopped beating. He was 21 years young, a thrill-seeker and a dreamer; he loved hard and well. I was 20, a sophomore in college at the time and my younger brother Levi was 16, still in high school. We became men overnight.
Six and a half years have passed since that horrid day. My grief over Josiah’s passing isn’t fresh, but it’s still hard. There are days that are really good. Anyone looking from the outside in wouldn’t detect that I’ve taken huge losses. And other days, it hits me like a tank flattening my helpless body on the pavement. Not fun. However, I’m the best son I’ve ever been and the best brother. I’m the best artist I’ve ever been. I’m creating art that I never ever dreamed of creating. I’m the best friend, the best pianist, the best listener, and the best lover. And when I say “best,” I don’t mean best in the world. I mean that I’ve discovered how to show up and to be the best version of myself. I have learned how to bring my story to the table. It’s no easy task when death seems to be on your doorstep.
But with all of this, I can still say, “God is good.” I can still wake up and have a renewed mind. I can still go about my life, walking with purpose and wonder. I can still explore the world with a childlike curiosity. Cause I carry a story of hope. Yes it’s a story textured with broken pieces and bullet hole scars and traces of tears draining from my eyes. But my faith grounds me. This is the man I’ve become and am turning into. Again, being a man is hard. At this point, I’ve been humbled so many times over that I know I can’t do it alone. I choose to partner with Jesus who meets me where I’m at. Isn’t that truly beautiful?
And so, wherever you’re at, my brother, don’t lose the hope, don’t lose your sense of worth. Sure my story looks different than yours. But we’re not that different, you and I. Remember that as you dig deep, your roots just get that much deeper. For as a man, it’s in the digging that helps cultivate the soil to keep a wellspring of life, turning it into a beautiful tree of life. Don’t lose sight of your mission. You are a man of God after all. Hold onto your royal sonship because the world needs to see your crown every single day.