Whoever said “It is always darkest before the dawn” actually knew what they were talking about.

It was a cold, late October day. I woke up well ahead of the sun and made the one hour drive to the farm where I was hunting. Pulling up to the edge of the woods, I noticed how unbelievable dark it was. The full moon had set about an hour before and the sun was still about an hour from hitting the horizon.

I exited my van as stealthy as I could and bundled up one layer at a time. Somewhere in that dark woods was a tree stand I hadn’t visited in a year. My primary mission was to make it to that stand alive. My secondary goal was to avoid scaring wildlife on my way in. That meant using my flashlight only as a last resort. The anxiety hit shortly after I began to walk.

While I was making my way through a 50 yard patch of high weeds, I heard a “thump! thump! thump!” on my right. It was obvious this was no little creature. Oh… did I forget to mention the farmer told me they were seeing a bear in this area over the summer? I strained my eyes to see the silhouette of a large beast. My heart raced and then slowly calmed down when I realized it was the neighbor’s horse. Horses are freaky in the dark but not as freaky as bears.

One step at a time, I entered the woods, never able to see what was directly in front of me. Each move forward seemed like an act of faith. Every sense was on high alert. Thankfully, I found the stand before my heart gave out. It was a successful hunt, I had made it to my stand alive!

The experience made me think about the quest for “Manhood”. Perhaps the only thing scarier than walking into the woods alone at night is asking the question, “What does it mean for me to be a man?” I think that is why a lot of guys never get around to fully addressing this question.

I prefer to be sitting on my couch in comfort than putting myself in situations where I wonder about my survival. My guess is a lot of other guys do too. As a result, we end up surviving but never thriving.

In order to fully enter manhood, we must take steps to enter the scary places of our lives. “What fears are motivating me?”, “Why am I caught in the same cycle of behavior?” and “Where is the source of my strength?” These are just a few of the questions I continue to ask myself.

In my experience, the journey into manhood is not about “having it all together”. It starts by admitting how weak I really am. Only then can I truly say, “When I am weak, then I am strong”.

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