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Last month my friend asked me to write a guest post on her blog Dear Tizaporah for her “Fully Man” series. The series was centered around the question, “When did you realize you were becoming a man?” The following post is what I wrote: a letter to my thirteen-year-old self. If you want to read the original post and check out the other vulnerable men who shared their stories, you can do so here.
I’m writing from the future because I want to help you answer a question that you will think about many times over in the next years of your life. Due to the environments you will be in, and your own personal wrestling, you might feel lost in this process. And that’s okay. This feels strange to be writing to you at such a young age, but I think you need to hear what I’m about to tell you. Though it might not seem like that big of a deal to you at 13, it’s going to affect you, and I need you to have the peace and the strength to endure the journey ahead.
The question I’m going to help you answer is: “What does it mean to be a man?”
I know you have a lot of ideas or images that pop into your head when I ask you that question, and we’ll work through those, but for now I just want to offer you the confidence that it’s not as dangerous to become a man as you might think. Though the world around you might try to attack who you are, let me make it clear: becoming a man is who you are. Despite the magnitude of what you are feeling, this great adventure into your identity is not supposed to be as scary to step into as you feel. Though it’s a dangerous road to walk, you were built for this dangerous road. Rest assured, you will become who God is leading you to be, you don’t have to question that.
Right now, in your head, being a man looks like a lot of different things: Mostly strong athletes known for their success in their chosen field, which is totally okay, and the men around you including your dad, your friends’ dads, and the teachers and coaches who’ve directed your steps thus far. Although these men share common characteristics (some good and some bad), none of them really look or act exactly the same, and I want you to remember that. It’s okay to feel different at times. This phrase has been so watered-down in your lifetime that you might just roll your eyes at another person making this statement, but I want you to actually believe it. Let the reality of those words wash over you: It’s okay to feel different from the world around you. To be different is oftentimes scary. To be different means you will stand out. To be different means you are an easy target. But it also means you are unlike any other person on earth—a true wonder of the world! To be different means that God created you with specific dreams in His heart for you to fulfill. To be different means you can be confident in yourself. In fact, that’s one of the marks of stepping into manhood: living in the satisfaction and security that you have been created uniquely and wonderfully by the Creator of the world, and that He has designed a specific purpose for you. At times you won’t always believe this, and sometimes you won’t even realize the authority that you carry in your day-to-day life, but to be secure in your identity as God’s Son, and aware of your influence, is the call of your life. It’s the only way things will function properly. It’s the only way you will be who you truly are.
Also keep in mind that the characteristics of manhood presented to you by the world around you are oftentimes not aligned with who you truly are, and that’s okay too. It will be hard at times to resist becoming the prototype that you see, or the man that others think you should be, but that’s all part of the long walk to and through manhood. The difference between the men you admire and the men you should resist becoming is one thing: love. Self-less love, at that. What you see produced in the world around you is a selfish type of “love”. It’s not really love at all, but a self-seeking type of maneuvering through the world. Often times, these men are hurting from their own wounds and they don’t know how to heal. Someday you’ll help them heal. But before that can happen you have to learn to live aligned with love.
Most often times these poor characteristics will try to get you to question your whole identity. They will attack your sexuality, and try to get you to weaponize it, while at the same time shame you for your questioning. This is not the Father’s Way. He has spoken over your identity the word “Sonship.” This means you don’t have to have a certain sexual charisma or even sexual leaning in order to belong, for you already belong to the Father, and His words and thoughts are eternal.
Your sexuality, and how you carry it, is not your identity.
Because of the nature of sexuality, and the attacks upon your internal confidence, shame is going to be one of the greatest hindrances to your ability to believe in the Father’s love. I’m asking you, right now, to cut ties with the relationship you have with shame. Shame is a deceptive fellow. He always comes disguised in holiness and purity, but he’s never been a friend, no matter how “comforting” or “protective” he’s pretended to be over the years. He’s an outright liar who works under the table, but hand-in-hand with the enemy, and he is trying to rot you from the inside.
This is the battle of your life: to actually believe that your Father loves you, through-and-through, in every situation, even the failures. This is something I’m learning right now, Seth, so don’t feel bad if you struggle believing it for awhile! But promise me you will wake up every day and clothe yourself in the Father’s love and grace, trusting that there can never be a separation between Him and you. You are His beloved. Now be brave and believe it.
These characteristics you look around and see in the world are also going to try to get you to question your power. They will make you feel like you are lacking because you don’t have a certain look or proximity to the world’s power. The world’s characteristics will also whisper lies into your true power (the authority of God) to try to get you to dishonor and manipulate the world and the people around you for your own gain. This is not the Father’s Way. He has spoken over your identity the word “Sonship” and this means it is already embedded into your nature to use your authority (power) to triumphantly war against evil and to also protect the world around you. It is in the core of who you are to protect and defend, don’t ever let anyone make you feel ashamed for that.
Your authority, and how you choose to wield it, is not your identity.
No matter how “big” they feel, sexuality and power are only parts of who you are—they are not who you are. Both of them are influenced and shaped by your true identity. Neither of them can operate apart from your identity. Both of them are only functioning properly when they sit underneath and exist out of who you really are: a Son.
I have to tell you the truth. It can be hard to stand up for things that you know are right, especially when you know the opposite is what provides the more comforting life. But you were not made for an easy life. You are a Son of the Most High God, and that is your everlasting identity. It’s what He is always speaking and claiming over you. No one and no thing can take His words away, so it’s your job to believe Him.
Sonship looks different than the world’s standards and prototypes of manhood. Sonship models its life after Jesus, the Anointed One, and relies solely on His Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, for sustenance. Because of this daily devotion to the true King, a life bent toward Sonship will inevitably start to look like His life. Kindness, self-control, joy, peace, gentleness, love, patience, goodness, and a confidently surrendered power are the fruit produced in the life of a Son. These are the fruit that are being produced from your life. Don’t worry if they don’t always look like much. They are creating Life in the world, and Life cannot be falsely mimicked. It has to start as a seed, and it has to grow through the hard seasons of life. But in the end, Life is the only thing worth producing.
To be honest, Seth, Sonship is a relatively knew concept for us, as of this writing. Well, relatively new to 26 years of living, but new, nonetheless. But that doesn’t stop the call for you right now! This is where your whole world needs to revolve around. I say “where” because living as a Son means living from a secure place in our heart and living as a Son affects every area of our life. Our heart is a protected city that we reside in with our Father, placed within the depth of our being, and from this safe-city we move through the great adventure of life. This safe-city is the central focus of all the enemy’s attacks upon your life. He’s bent upon stealing your identity, and in the process destroying your soul and murdering your heart. Our enemy does not play fair, and he knows the authority that Sons have, so he will do everything he can do to infect you, disempower you, and shame you. But remember! What he says is never true, and to believe him is to invest your life into a lie rather than enfolding your life into your Father’s loving hands. You must protect your identity at all cost! This is the highest charge I can give you, and the most noble thing you can do. It will impact your relationship with God, your relationships with people, your sense of purpose, the way you give and receive love, your ability to walk through failure securely, and your hope for each new day, despite the present circumstances. Never lose your identity.
You are a Son of God.
To be a Son is to stand in direct opposition of the demonic, the divisive, and the wicked masquerades brought on by the enemy and his friends.
To be a Son is to be a man. More importantly, to be a man is to be a Son.
To be a Son is who you are.
Let that wash over you, forever.
With all my love,
P.S. Always remember: Sons Don’t Struggle. This most certainly doesn’t mean there will not be struggles and hardships along the journey, but true Sons know they have an Everlasting Father who is in charge of the world and in charge of their life. Sons rest securely in each new day, trusting that their Father knows what He is doing, and that they can come to Him with anything at any time. They don’t run away or hide, because Kings don’t run, and Kings are who we are. But we’ll talk more about that soon.”