From Boy to Man

If you are reading this article, you probably already know the clichés I’m about to spout: “God has called you to be greater”, “The media portrays men as egotistical and prideful”, and so on. It’s always been said – but when push comes to shove, we, as men, don’t really understand the gravity of what it means and what it takes to be the man that our God has called us to be. Too many times have I heard these clichés, yet I see nothing is done about them, especially to the men (or dare I say, boys) in our CFC-Youth community. Allow me to break down what it really means to truly be [or not to be] a Man of God. (Dear Sisters, I apologize but this may not be applicable to you, but you can read it if you like! Alternatively, you can proceed to http://cfcyouth.ca/you-are-loved/)

 

What we are told

You are THE man. You are courageous, you are bold, you are someone to be revered. You ran into the burning down home to save the 2 little children who were stuck. You have enough money to drive a Mustang, wear a Rolex and have your wife stay at home to take care of your kids. Your muscles are massive… All the women love you.

 

What is expected of us

As men, we have a level of expectation that we are told to uphold. Our fathers instilled in us to be understanding of how a car engine works, to be the ‘man-of-the-house’ when they’re away, to stray away from being girly/feminine, and the like. Our friends expect to hear us brag about that one time you wrecked someone in pick-up basketball, or how far you got with that girl, or how many girls… you get the point. There is this unwritten ‘code of manliness’ that dictates how we are or who we are supposed to be. My own father was fearful and concerned about me because I wasn’t attracted to girls when I was in elementary school, so he pressed me with questions like: “where’s your girlfriend?”, “when I was your age, ______”, “are there any girls coming to your birthday party?”. These unnecessary pressures and standards that we (apparently) must obey can cloud the brighter picture of what it is and what it takes to be a man.

 

What the Church teaches us

You are a man made in the image of God. You protect others, you are a leader, and you are called to great things. You are strong in your faith and extremely courteous and respectful, especially to sisters. You have a calling to fatherhood, to priesthood even, and a wide range of other responsibilities that can seem like a lot. Like Saint Peter, you are the foundation of whatever you’re called to be strong for, whether it is in your family or future family, in your parish, or in your local communities (like here in CFC-Youth). We hear homilies week after week about being dutiful to our families and a myriad of other ways to be a Man of God…


In high school, the idea of a man was incredibly blurred to me. The Church tells me one thing, my friends say another. My dad and uncles have their own opinion on “Manhood” but so does my Youth Leaders. I couldn’t think for myself and it was such a struggle when it came to making decisions.

Like any high-schooler, I had my share of insecurities, doubts and pressures. I got the classic “let’s get HAM, bruh” (LIT wasn’t a thing yet) or “forest after school?” (place to smoke marijuana) and ‘No thanks’ was always the response. I knew what was right. I knew underaged drinking and smoking are illegal at the time and morally wrong.

I knew going to that birthday house party that had no parents home wouldn’t go well. I knew hiding my uncle’s Playboy and FHM magazines in my room was disgusting. I knew (too well, to be honest) that masturbation and watching pornography on my iPod Touch was unholy, shameful and disrespectful to women. I knew that all these carnal desires were temptations and easily avoidable…

It wasn’t when my friends came over for my 19th birthday and saw me incredibly intoxicated, acting stupid all the while wearing my Celtics jersey as if I just turned into the Hulk or something. It wasn’t when I had some friends over that they went through my search history on my PS3 and shamed me for having porn sites searched up. [Funny enough, they found it while I was pretend sleeping and talked about me in a negative light, but I heard every comment they made about me]. You’d think after all these embarrassing moments and the subsequent call-outs that I’d change my ways, right? With their help I can be the holy man I’m supposed to be?


So many voices screaming at us telling us who we are. Our friends, our family, our parish priests, all the way to random people online, to our acquaintances we talk to every 8 months or so, all have an opinion of who we should or shouldn’t be. Seriously consider this:

Have you ever thought of thinking for yourself?

Think about it: I’ve stated probably 30 or 40 different ways to be a man. Maybe your mind is agreeing and disagreeing with some.

Dig deeper into your soul, and ask yourself “who am I?”.

Honestly, to me, there is no true definition of what a man is.

I’ll hit you with another cliché, but believe me when I say this is legit:

“You are who God created you to be.”

It is not what your friends or parents say about you, it is not what your pastor or spiritual advisor say to you, but it is who you are deep inside that God wanted you to be from the very beginning of time. The only way to truly know who you are is to ask Him.

In my high school days, it was so apparent that I was just doing what was expected of me. I was not supposed to do this because it’s against the rules. I was told to abstain from this because it is a commandment. Does calling me out really change who I am inside? People are constantly bombarding me with what my expectations are, yet, is that really who I am?

The name of the game is purity, my brothers. That, in its purest form is who we are and who we are called to be. If, at the time, I was in tune with our Lord, if I asked Him to reveal to me who I truly am, I wouldn’t be worrying about the other questions about who I am or who I could be. I wouldn’t need to be reminded to be the male archetype of what I supposedly should be. Rather, I can just… be. Be who I am and be who I was originally called to be.

The decisions I made as a high school boy were of those made by a boy who didn’t know himself. My actions were taken as a boy who didn’t bother to ask God “Lord, how did you intend me to be?”. I was just a boy lost, confused and unable to think on my own.

Previously, I shared some stories of myself where I made bad, stupid decisions and lived an unhealthy lifestyle of being who I’m not. Although I was aware of committing sin, I did it anyway SOLELY to crave my curiosity and fit in. In order for me to understand what I needed, I had to ask the Lord myself. I had to go to the source of my entire being, and be honest with myself. Do I really need to commit these sins to fulfill my duty as a “man”?

If your heart and mind are in the right place and if you actually take time in prayer to have conversation with God, doing the MANLY thing will come natural. Leading will become natural, and following commandments would be a breeze. Clearly, the only one who could change you is yourself.

Dearest brothers, it is so important to know exactly who we are. Why would we want to live our lives being someone we’re not? We are told to be so many things, follow so many rules. But really, there’s only one voice we should listen to — the voice of Christ who is already within our own hearts. He’s so, so, so close, so why not let Him speak? For me, once I allowed Jesus to speak to me within my heart, that act ultimately started my slow transformation from boy to man for me. (I, too, am on the path to true Manliness!)

Now, I will give you the answer to the original question “what is a Man of God?”. A Man of God is someone who is honest, pure and needs no approval from anyone but Christ Himself. He makes the good decisions not because he is told to or knows it good, but simply, just does.

I know, I said there isn’t a definition of what a man is. Obviously, there are probably a couple definitions of what a man is in the dictionary or whatever, but God created every man differently, and with every man comes a different definition of what a man is.

Our God is an honest God. If asked, He will respond truthfully. He knows exactly who we are because, well, He created us!

It all begins with: In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Jeffrey Gache – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Canada