Sunday, September 8, 2013

#473: The Man I Want To Be

"You're always talking about what you want to be for someone else, but what kind of man do YOU want to be?"

Damned head-shrinker. Always asking the hard questions.

I have a pretty good idea what kind of man God wants me to be. I know what's expected of me at work. I'm far too aware of the things I should have done to be a better husband... but what kind of man do I want to be? What kind of self would let me say, "I'm understand that you feel that way about me, but I'm confident in the person I am"?


First, I would be courageous, like the wolf. My life's compass would be Love, not Fear. I would be proud to join the pack, and lead when needed, but I would also run alone when my heart told me it was the right thing to do. When faced with danger of loss or defeat, I would use my senses and my experience to choose the best course of action and take on the challenge as an opportunity to grow in wisdom and courage. When other, weaker wolves were placed in my care, I would teach them, challenge them, protect them, and defend them with my life.

I would be strong, like the lion. I would work to keep my muscles and mind ready to do the things that need to be done. I would eat what I needed to grow strong and powerful; rest to allow myself the chance to restore and recover from the day's tasks; and exercise to teach my body how to overcome today's obstacles and to prepare for tomorrow's challenges. When my heart said "Go!" I would have the capacity to go, even through great fatigue or even pain. I would have no need for other's weakness, because I would know the confidence of  my own strength.

I would be compassionate, like the gorilla. I would see the world through eyes that may not always understand, but always accept. I would use my courage and strength with tenderness toward the world, taking only what I needed, doing no harm, bringing gentleness and patience to the task of nurturing myself and my community. Though I would be a fierce adversary, my ferocity would be tempered with kindness, and my heart, powerful enough for any battle, would be soft enough to feel the pains and joys of every creature I encounter.

Finally, I would be joyful, like the bear. I would know the beauty of play and treasure the value of laughter. I would wrap my arms around creation and roar with happiness at the blessings of this life. To others, I might appear clumsy, oafish, clownish, or even dangerous, but in my own heart, I would know the happiness of a bear who knows where the softest moss is, where to find the best fishing, and how to roll back and laugh as the water tickles my belly and the sun dries my fur on an autumn afternoon.

"Do you see," asked the head-shrinker, smiling, "that you are all these things already? You have courage and strength and compassion and joy, and you exercise them every day! This man you wish you were... he exists right now. He is not perfect, and he does not always live up to his own ideals, but he is alive and growing and he is YOU... he is NOW... not some future possibility."

It is so easy to notice and remember our vices. Ask me to list the cowardly, weak, selfish, miserable things I have done in the past year, and I will fill pages with sins and omissions. Opportunities missed. Responsibilities shirked. Mornings when the sunlight was just too much to bear and I pulled the covers back over my head. Nights when it was easier to turn up the music and eat ice cream than to listen to the voices arguing in my own soul. I know the things I've done wrong I know them by heart.

And that's why I've started recording Three Right Things. Every day, before I go to sleep, I try to remind myself of three things that I have done that reflect the man I want to be. It might be something as simple as getting out of bed when I was filled with anxiety. It might be an hour spent on the road or in the weight room. It could be a long phone call with my Mum. Or it could just be sitting and laughing with a child at the Y who finds some kind of delight in the company of a big, round, hairy bear of a man with a loud voice and eyes that seem to see you when they look at you.

As I remember the things I do right, I am reminded of the man I am. I am reminded of the man God created me to be. And I remember that God is sending people and experiences to me so that I can learn how to better be the man I want to be.

Three Right Things. It doesn't seem like much. Not when you compare it to the mountain of things I do wrong every day. Maybe it isn't a very ambitious goal. But it is mine. I will work to imitate the wolf, the lion, the gorilla, and the bear. I will try to do three things every day that make the world better than it was. I will continue to nurture the best in the man I already am.

I will battle with strength and courage. I will love with compassion. And whether times are good or bad, I will not miss an opportunity to lay back in the sun, wave my big paws in the air, and laugh.

That's a self I can live with. Even if it is only three times a day.

Peace,
Bob
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