Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Making of a Man

When do we stop being excited to see one another?

I’m talking about those moments when we unexpectedly spot someone we love. Our eyes widen, we throw our arms open, and we gasp in a way that says, “You are AMAZING! I can’t believe you’re here with me!”

This weekend Frank and I had the opportunity to spend two days at the beach. (Thanks Lift Church for the use of your mission house.) And we relished our time watching people as they interacted all around us.

We had a couple of favorites.

One was a little guy, about eighteen months old. Carefully clad in sun retardant clothing and a slightly over-sized ball cap.

His young dad had multiple piercings, extravagant “body art,” and interesting beverage choices. Smile. But he was totally enamored with his little boy.

We weren’t close enough to hear actual conversation but dad’s body language said it all.

Everything the toddler did caused the dad to throw his arms in the air with pleasure. Clapping and cheering erupted spontaneously. And the wind carried the marvelous laughter of the little fella’s response.

There was no question that the dad was thoroughly enjoying the day with his boy. It made us smile.

Then we spotted a surfer.

A family set up their chairs and umbrella just to our left, making us spectators for a rite of passage. Obviously this dad was an experienced surfer and he intended to teach his young son the art of riding waves.

Over the course of a couple hours we observed the making of a man.

Our location on the gulf side offered no real waves but the gentle surf was perfect for this project.

Instruction. Practice. Fall. Repeat. Instruction. Practice. Fall. Repeat. Again and again the dad patiently took his son through the paces.

The dad never raised his voice or waved in frustration. He just continued to retrieve the board. Offer a steadying hand. Nodding his approval when a fall was avoided.

The boy looked to be about eight years old. And with every attempt, he seemed to gain confidence. His body language had initially communicated that he was starting out timid and uncertain. But he displayed a definite swagger by the end of the training session.

An older brother took a few turns and even the sister. Mom served as photographer. But this day belonged to the middle son. The man in the making!

We glanced over periodically to check his progress. Dad continued to coax his little boy into trying things that would frighten many grown men. And the boy becoming man, loved it!

Even though young and frightened, he kept trying because dad was saying, “You can do this!” The child believed and then began to behave as though his dad knew exactly what he was saying. What a gift!

Mom snapped a few pictures of the kids on the surf board. (Dad balancing it beside them and beaming with pride.)

As she did, I wanted to run over and tell them, “Drink this in. You think it will happen a million more times. But it won’t. Take a few more pictures. Be sure the sapling man is looking into the camera. Make certain to capture Dad’s approving smile. Mom, come around and get a shot of you all together. This is a life-time moment.”

But, of course, I didn’t. You can’t really tell other people these things. They have to live it for themselves.

They packed up and headed on, congratulating the middle man as they went. And a whisper came to my heart.

“You can do what you think you can’t, Sheri.” It was my own heavenly Father. Speaking words of approval and affirmation to me.

And I realized that just like the little boy, I needed to believe then begin to behave as though my “Dad” knows what He’s talking about. Because, He does, dear reader. He is making us into strong men and women of faith. And He knows exactly what He’s doing!