Zooming down a hill on a skate board, kill the carrier, basketball, jumping in a freezing cold pool, playing dodge ball in the dark (balls whizzing by your face), and manhunt. What do all these have in common? It's a small taste of a 7th grade boys W3 weekend...and it is an insight into a man's heart.
Why is adventure such a critical component of life? Because life IS the adventure. It is what you make of it. At the center of every man is the desire to prove he has what it takes - to make the grade, to lead, to win, to be meaningful to those he loves. But as we progress in life, it often doesn't turn out the way we expected. Somewhere along the way a fear creeps in that we will let everyone down and you start to feel like you missed something, that you were meant for something greater. At some point, life feels like a struggle to survive instead of an adventure to live. The adventure is easily lost - set backs, heartache, loss, work can become a grind and marriage feels hard. As men, we can struggle to engage with all those around us in an authentic way and instead choose to ride it out on our own or simply resign from our post. There is a better way...as men we should embrace our situation and bring the adventure back into our hearts.
Strive, Resign or Embrace. To solve the problems presented in life we have choices. Just knowing there is a choice is much of the battle. Taking the time to identify those options and make a wise decision is a learned response. A response we want to teach the young men in our lives.
Going it alone is no way to face life. Yet men seem to be conditioned that this is their battle to fight...in isolation. Don't let anyone see you struggle...don't be authentic. Dig in and do it because you have to! Right? Maybe...but the adventure is quickly lost. You can only stand on duty, strive to stand on principle and try harder for so long. This can lead to a dry and exhausted life. Turning inward, going it alone and ignoring the fundamental issues of your heart is not the answer.
Another choice is to hide. Rather than live authentically, we cover up the mess with a fake existence, putting our social media face on and pretending everything is OK. Others find relief to the constant presence and pull of life with resignation, searching for an escape. The distractions of choice often have a screen (video games, porn, movies). Along with these distractions comes the lie that this is normal, this is all that is left. When you choose to "fade" as a man, you choose the lie.
So what is the truth? The truth is that life is an adventure. It is a puzzle to be solved, a battle worth fighting, a woman's heart to capture over and over again. Our job is to embrace that adventure and find other men that we can enlist in the fight. To live the adventure with. As a man, a joyful, fulfilled and authentic life is an adventure. We must stop treating it as something that is deserved or owed. We must be honest with our sons and let them fail - let them see that life is hard, risky and messy. We must let them get dirty, take chances and be stupid. What a better time to start letting them test the waters of manhood than in 7th grade. Fail a class, get a zero on an assignment, go to summer school...they will only need to learn this lesson once and believe me it's best learned in seventh grade.
God put this desire to seek adventure and take chances in us as men. It presents itself at such an early age and as a society we try to squash that zeal for the unknown. Let the horses run in your son. Yes, guide him, offer counsel ,but more importantly, be there to break down the wins and the losses and help him realize that his entire life is an adventure. If he embraces that and feels the rush of solving life's problems, instead of grinding it out or receding into the background, his heart will be full of an arsenal of weapons to resist the LIE and embrace the adventure.