My dad used to show me how to bring down an opponent with a Judo move, we used to spend hours in the garage fixing a car or boat motor. It felt like heaven. Those were the times when I felt most complete as a boy. Then the divorce happened, I was 14 years old and decided to move with my mom from Africa where we were living at the time, all the way to Russia. From then on, I was alone on my journey.
Every boy feels this question arise from the depth of us. Do I have what it takes? Can I be a man? That is why we will try to climb trees, play with weapons, do dangerous things and try to get the girl. As adults, most of us are still searching for the answer.
My Dad would have answered this question, had we stayed together. We would probably move on from the garage and the judo to academics, relationships, work, and ,very importantly, sex. He would have shared what he knew, he would have kicked my butt, be disappointed in me every once in a while and proud of me some other times. Then there would be a test, a foe of some kind I would have to face alone. I would have come back from the battle, scarred but victorious, and my father would have put his hand on my shoulder and proclaimed the short “You are a man now, you have what it takes”.
But that never happened, I stayed incomplete and searching until I found my first real mentor. I was 26 years old and this older friend took me under his wing, a man of faith and character he taught me, or rather, re-taught me so many things I felt I was 14 again and catching up on fast forward. This great friendship didn’t fix all that needed fixing but was the tipping point that changed the whole trajectory of my life. Since then, I’ve had many other mentors, men generous with their time and energy. I am whole, confident, head of a family that depends on me, and do believe I have what it takes.
This is why I look for opportunities to mentor young men who grew up without a father. I know they have the same question I had for so many years. I know they need someone to walk with them, and tell them one day they have what it takes to be a man.
This is why I support Young Warriors.
– Christian Ray, Guest Blogger for The Young Warriors. Read more by Christian.