There were many men on the medical mission trip to Valladolid this past July. I watched average men be great and great men humble themselves in average ways. It is the joy though, that will never be forgotten. The very exercise of ministering delighted them and the team deeply.
In the United States it’s easy to mistakenly believe life is all about us. Upon arrival in the Yucatan however, we found our purpose through the lives of others, through the love and life of Jesus. We could only find ourselves when we looked through the lens of purpose as we served.
In my ever inquisitive “journalistic” nature, I spoke to several different men over the course of the trip, ages 18-70. Most of them love to read, but went further to say that they were in Mexico to live a remarkable story, not just to read about one.
In order to fully live, they did things that made them uncomfortable. They viewed and performed procedures in medical, built structures they never thought they were capable of and did jobs with materials which weren’t what they wanted or needed or were used to. They wore the same clothes and poured sweat, tears and love into the people of Valladolid. They lived out Matthew 25:36 and had compassion for those in prison.
In short, they lived a great story. They found themselves and it wasn’t a coincidence. They discovered who they are in the hard things that tested them, the moments and experiences that turned them upside down and inside out.
A lot of the men got their question answered. You know the one, the one we all wrestle with, “Am I good enough?” A resounding yes was the moment-by-moment response they encountered in the Yucatan.
And then they went home. For some the story ended. They closed the book on that short story with a silent prayer they’d be able to live it again someday. Some closed it and filed it under science fiction, believing it was a seven day fantasy where they got to be the hero who lives deep in their heart. Others filed their story under the travel section and put it away in their “Been there, got the T-shirt” drawer.
But a few came home and decided to live their new story, right here in the USA. It isn’t easy. The culture continues to tell them who they are and all that they will never be. Old labels haunt their every day and sometimes that pervasive darkness just won’t shake. And then they remember. The sure, strong voice of The Father telling them this is what they were designed for, this is who they are meant to be.
This is where the ladies come in. We can emasculate our men, join with culture in oppressing and marginalizing them. Or we can have compassion. We can affirm the hero they are, their strength and courage.
If we choose the latter, we change the world. There are millions of fatherless kids, desperate to live their true story. The men in your life can continue their mission and come alongside our boys, offering them hope and a different way.
Your love for your men, is the encouragement and acceptance they need to show someone else how to live and love well.