Manlier than most 11-year-olds

Lucas Littles on the Job

Lucas Littles on the Job

I would give anything:

  • to ride a horse like Josh Rushing
  • fight bulls like Lucas Littles and Daniel Unruh
  • rope like Vincent Oullette
  • raise stock like Jake Stubbs, Matt Williams, or Brian Adams
  • teach and preach like Doug Aldridge or Chad Chambers
  • cowboy like Doug Reser or Tyrell McClintock
  • be a husband and father like James Hurla, Clark Boatright, or Tim Schultz.

…but I cant and probably never will. These men have skills that God did not encode into my DNA.

The comparison game is played anytime people converge. For guys it started in grade school where we needed the same shoes, a cooler bike, or lego set that a friend had. In Middle School, it was football or basketball ability, clothes, or game systems. With high school comes car, girl, popularity, college offers, and power index comparisons that command man’s attention. College brings girls, parties, cars, clothes, and talents that arise envy. When they enter the workforce its salary, benefits, houses, vehicles, vacations, and girls and before we know it we are sitting at Bakers Dozen Doughnuts comparing 401 K’s, retirement funds, and our ability to greet more people at Wal-Mart than our doughnut-dinning-buddies.

The cover of the April 2015 edition of Popular Science caught my eye on the magazine rack. The cover showed Corey Kluber, the American League Cy Young winner, throwing a curve ball.. The title of the article, accompanying the cover, read: “42 Things You Should Know How to do at Every Age”.

I will have you know that I knew all 7 things in ages 1-11 (riding a bike, shooting a bb gun, tying my shoes, hammer a nail, pitch a tent, and paddle a canoe) except for properly loading a dishwasher.   Now before you blame my mother, I’m sure she tried to teach me and it didn’t take. I know how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, hammer a nail and do the rest. So rest assured I am more manly than most 11 year olds.

I also have accomplished almost all the skills that should be learned from ages 12-17. I can drive a stick shift, jump start a car, do a donut, survive in the woods, find myself on a map and get down a mountain. The last skill is throwing a curve ball, which I do during softball warm ups just to tick people off. I, however, have not done a flip off a rope swing for 2 reasons: a) lack of opportunity; b) it scares me to death to dive head first into water.

From ages 18-22 it gets a bit sketchy. I know how to safely cut down a tree, plan a road trip, throw a curve in bowling, light fireworks, and fit a couch through a door. I do not know how to unsnap a bra with one hand (didn’t need to know that until 2 ½ years ago) or throw a punch. In a fight I am less than worthless and when it comes down too it, I’m more likely to throw a haymaker than a jab and pray that it lands at its target because my eyes will be closed.

At ages 23-30, I plateuaed because I can’t do anything that the age requires of me. Butchering a pig, making a cocktail, or knowing how to plane a door are things that never came up on my to do list.   Even in the next age range, 31-45, the only thing I know how to do there is to work a circular saw. I have never been able to whistle, hate golf, don’t know what a roux is, and the thought of changing diapers makes me throw up in my mouth.

I fare no better in the last two age ranges save one skill: fly-fishing. Sailing seems to expensive, driving over 100 mph too illegal, playing poker for money seems to costly, building a stone wall too extravagant; but I can fly fish. My dad taught me year’s back and I still have my pole somewhere and would love to do it more often. It beats golfing I guess.

All in all, I guess I’m manlier than most 11-year-olds out there. Still the comparison game is haunting.

Before David goes out to fight Goliath, Saul tries to make David like him. He dresses him in the King’s armor, with the King’s sword. Saul is saying “you must be like me to fight Goliath” but David refuses to play the comparison game. He gathers his own sling and stones and goes out to fight (1 Samuel 17.38-40).

In Mark 5, Jesus heals a demoniac. Upon his healing, he desperately wants to join Jesus. He wants to follow and be like the other disciples, but Jesus says “no”. Anyone familiar with Jesus mission is befuddled at this point. Wait, wasn’t that what he came for? To have people follow him? But the former demoniac heads home and tells everyone what Jesus did and the next time Jesus comes back to that place, the whole region comes to him. Jesus wouldn’t let this guy play the comparison game.

I may be behind in my manly report card. My lack of muscles, the smattering of chest hair, and inability to do many manly things are not what stunts my development, leaving me stranded at age 22. What leaves me stranded in immaturity is my inability to drop the comparison game and walk faithfully in the role God has written for me. I desperately want to be like the guys I mentioned…but ultimately God is asking me to be faithful with the skills, abilities, gifts, and people that He has placed in my life. Just as the guys above are doing in their lives.

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About Travis Long

I am a cowboy saved by the grace of God.

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