When in Wome
Being the youngest of three boys has its advantages. You get to watch and listen to cooler movies and music at a younger age. You get to stay up and out later and longer. You get to learn what works and doesn’t work from the struggles and successes of your older siblings. You get to live like a king once your brothers move out and your parents suddenly have a lot of money.
Being the youngest also has its disadvantages. You don’t get to watch and listen to animated movies and nursery rhymes. You can’t get up in the morning because you stayed out too late and too long. You don’t get to try dangerous things or live a life of adventure because you already know better. You have to live like a peasant again the moment you decide to move out on your own.
While these “disadvantages” are all possible to overcome, having a speech impediment that everyone dismisses as “cute” because you are the “baby” of the family may be the worst!
I attended my first speech therapy session in fifth grade. I remember sitting in a small group of kids that all appeared to be just as embarrassed as me and watching the speech teacher turn her thumb and index finger into a U-shape. She then turned that “U” around towards her own throat as if she were going to massage a lump of undercooked dough down her esophagus and spoke, “The rrrrrrrrrrushing rrrrrrrrriverrrrr. The rrrrrrrrrrushing rrrrrrrrriverrrrr. Your turn.”
Then, myself and the other prisoners of shame, turned our pinchers towards our own necks and repeated, “The wwwwwwwwushing wwwwwwwwibuuuuuhhh. The wwwwwwwwushing wwwwwwwwibuuuuuhhh.”
“Good! Now try this…”
Good? How was that good? Perhaps you missed the part of this story where I said the phrase “FIFTH GRADE” and “FIRST” therapy session. That means I had five (eight if you count preschool) different teachers and countless other adults that had heard my voice, knew I couldn’t say my r-sounds and did absolutely nothing about it because they thought I sounded “cute”!
Kids used to ask me all the time why I had an accent. For me, that wasn’t that big of a deal. I just told everyone that I was from a different country. What country did I choose? Thanks for asking… “I am fwum Wome.”
Lesson number one: Rome is not a country.
Lesson number two: When choosing a country as part of a lie in which you are going to explain to others the reason for sounding like a toddler asking for a “pet wabbit”, PICK A COUNTRY THAT DOESN’T HAVE AN R!”
Calling of the Weak
Traditionally, men do not discuss their weaknesses. The manly, macho thing to do is to puff out our chests and accentuate our strengths. Ignoring those things that make us less than perfect and creating a false image of ourselves can be dangerous to ourselves and others. If we are going to be successful as husbands, dads, and followers of Christ, we must live lives of truth and set realistic examples that point others towards our perfect strength in HIM.
Attack Your Weakness – Don’t Avoid It
When your child comes to you and says they need help with a math problem, what is your response? Do you tell them, “Don’t worry about math. Just focus on being a good person instead”?
When your child constantly swings at pitches above their head in baseball, do you tell them, “Just keep swinging up there. Eventually the ball will hit your bat”?
A good father will see the weakness in their child and do everything they can to help them overcome it. They will show them other strategies, teach them other techniques, and spend time guiding and instructing them to turn their weaknesses into strengths.
For the fathers reading this that enjoy lifting weights and exercising, consider this. If all you ever did, was work on your upper body and never did anything to build muscles in your legs, what would happen? Your bottom half would crumble under the weight of your upper half. You would be like a brick resting upon two pretzel sticks. You may hate “leg day” at the gym, but you know that if you avoid it, there will be severe repercussions in your health and appearance.
Our children need to know that it is not only okay to admit weakness, but also extremely necessary for growth and development. We need to set the example in our own lives with our own weaknesses, so that our children will see how hard we work at improving in those areas in which we struggle.
We all want our kids to see us as superheroes, fighting crime and saving the world. We must also let them see us with ice packs on our knees, tears in our eyes, and doubts in our minds. We must let them see that we were once that kid sitting at a crowded table producing guttural sounds of suffering in an attempt to take our place as the next RRRRRRuler of RRRRRRome.
Avoid Your Weakness – Don’t Attack It
Not all weaknesses need to be attacked. Some should be avoided at all costs. If you are allergic to cashews, you are not going to overcome your allergy by eating more of them. If you have severe asthma, you are not going to overcome your condition by running a marathon without an inhaler. If you are an alcoholic, you are not going to overcome your desire for intoxication by spending your entire day at the bar.
Sin. Our greatest weaknesses will always be based in sin. In these cases, avoid at all costs. Avoid that website. Avoid that co-worker. Avoid that store. Avoid that song. Avoid that event. One of the most convicting things a dad could ever hear their child say is, “But DAD does this” or “But DAD says that”. Our kids watch everything we do and listen to every word we say (even when they do not respond or acknowledge us).
A Bible verse I have shared many times over the years when teaching children of all ages comes from Ecclesiastes chapter 12. The author is giving advice to a young audience and tells them to, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come…” (NASB). Some translations will use the phrase “Don’t let the excitement of your youth cause you to forget the Creator” (NLT).
If our kids see us making healthy moral choices based on the things we choose NOT to say and do, they will be much more likely to follow our example. When they build these habits at an early age, they will have the strength when they are older to avoid the weaknesses that we openly worked hard to overcome.
God has given us a unique spirit of discernment that allows us to decide when to attack or when to avoid. Attack: If I would have avoided going to speech therapy, I would sound “weally” silly standing in front of a class of “fowth gwaduhs” teaching them about “Califownia Explowuhs.” Avoid: If I would have followed the excitement of my youth instead of the calling of my God”, I would be writing for a way different type of website right now.
Attach Yourself to Others That Make You Stronger
You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.
The sooner you can get that through your head, the better off you will be as a husband, father, and leader. If this world was made up of a bunch of men operating in unbalanced isolation, the Earth would fall off its axis. We are at our best, when we are in community and fellowship with other men willing to live lives of honesty and integrity.
When God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, he provided Aaron to be the mouthpiece for an insecure public speaker. When David struggled with sexual sin, God provided Nathan to be the voice of reason, conviction, and accountability for a wandering eye. When the paralytic man wanted to see Jesus, God provided a group of friends willing to risk their own safety and reputation to lower him into the presence of the healer.
A quarterback can’t release the ball without the time and space provided by a strong offensive line. An author can’t publish a book without the revisions of a skillful editor. A construction worker can’t build a home without the hands of a steady partner holding a beam in place. You need other men in your life that are different than you. You need other men in your life that are the same as you. You need other men that are willing to admit their weaknesses. You need other men that are willing to share their strengths.
Surround yourself with other men that make you better. Be the kind of man that makes other men better. In turn, it will make your kids better. It will make their kids better.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
God is not surprised by who we are. He is not shocked when he sees us fail. He is not astonished when he sees us succeed. He is not perplexed by our weaknesses. He is not mesmerized by our strengths.
God has called each of us to “go into the world and make disciples of all nations”, “…teaching them to observe His commands.” You know who is part of “all nations”? You. Your wife. Your kids. Your co-workers. Your boss. Your neighbor. Your friends. Your enemies. ALL people. Our calling is great and not to be taken lightly. We need to be attached to each other and to our all-powerful Heavenly Father. “I am always with you”.
You are not alone.
Attack. Avoid. Attach.
This is the calling of the weak.
Check out the previous article: Calling of the Called: Embracing Your Influence on the World Around You