I don't know why but things come back to me at the strangest times. I guess my mind works that way. I'll hear a phrase and instantly link it to a song lyric, a movie line etc.
But at this time... it was the poem, "IF" by Rudyard Kipling. Again, I don't know why it came to mind. I mean I do, but this poem was calling to me. I read it in high school and I knew who the author was, and of course the closing line: "...And which is more, You'll be a man my son."
I think it was the last line that drew me in. Freshly separated in a marriage that was on the highway to hell. Everywhere I went there was pain, suffering, defeat. It was barely enough to get out of bed and walk through the day. I was...the walking dead. Emotionally beaten, broken, a shell of a man. Terrified that I had failed my sons. Scared that I had ruined them forever because I could not give them what every child deserves; two parents who love each other for life.
I was not a man. What makes a man? How can I guide my sons in this time of broken relationship when the one thing I wanted is crashing around me? Am I even a man? A man makes his marriage work. A man holds it together. A man overcomes all odds and rises triumphantly...
I was not that.
They were angry. Young innocent blame casted on me so they could make sense of their chaos.
And the poem called to me.
Called to me to read and challenge my perspective of myself, my place in this world and of being a man. It called to me to re-evaluate the stories in my head that called me a failure, a reject, a loser. Less than.
And so I read: "If you can keep your head about you, when everyone is losing theirs, and blaming it on you..."
And in the reading I found hope, a new vision of what it means for me to lead my boys to manhood. Sometime later I'll share with you the details of this poem and how it played out in my life. For now, I'm satisfied that God used this piece of poetry to get to my heart, and move me to a place where I could begin to live again.
BTW, you can enjoy this poem here: