No matter where one grows up, gaining an understanding of “authentic manhood” is not easy. Growing up in a low income area without an involved father makes it nearly impossible. Having Jonathan Allen intern at PTM for the entire year while he works on his MSW has given some of our young men another opportunity to explore what it means to be a man. He, along with Dwight, has started a program for our boys called “authentic manhood”. I am thankful for the opportunity I had this past weekend to take part in
We arrived at our camp site (thanks Sara and Matt McIntyre) on the bank of the Harpeth River in time to set up tents (thanks Bianca Parker) and walk in the river before the sun set. On our third try (thanks to a dried up Christmas tree), we were able to get a fire going that would see our hobo stew all the way through. It provided a perfect setting for some Q and A on what it means to be a man. I was encouraged by some great questions: “when do you know you are ready to get married?”, “how do you know when you are ready to have children?”, “is it okay to change what I am looking for in a girlfriend?”—among other questions that are even more personal. As I listened to questions and answers (from Dwight and Jonathan and me), I was reminded of the questions I had when I was in 8th grade—and the many men in my life that provided great guidance to me. I also had a tearful moment considering that of the 8 boys on our trip, 6 started with PTM when they were in kindergarten. The other 2 have been at PTM for four years. Watching their ease and enjoyment with each other and their genuine desire to pursue God gives me great hope for the futures of their families and great gratitude for all of the people who have invested in these young men.
Following breakfast (cereal bars and fruit) we played a couple of games (Vrrooom and Four on the Couch) and then hit the river for fishing and exploring. I appreciate how the river can test one’s manhood. A couple of our 14 year old young men giggled like kindergarten girls as they held hands trying to cross the knee-high Harpeth (there was stronger current than normal), but raised their hands in triumph at the successful crossing. They laughed together, prayed together, and continuously challenged one another throughout the weekend. So many gifts and contributions went into this weekend—I am grateful. But, more than anything, I am grateful for the joy of serving an organization that is helping to raise young men with a realistic shot of becoming men who lead their families in faith.