My Musings

Monday, November 26, 2007

Being a Real Boy

For several years, I worked on the staff of an Independent, Fundamental Baptist Camp...Cedar River Baptist Camp. During my four year tenure at the camp, my fellow staffers and I were constantly challenged to be men. We were encouraged to work hard and play hard. Often times our evening and weekend recreation was crude basic events such as wrestling, boxing, soccer that turned into wrestling, etc. Now, of course, they monitored us to be sure that we were boxing or wrestling out of enjoyment of the sport and not just because we wanted to pummel the other guy. Nevertheless we fought.

Boxing became one of my favorite sports events. I'm scrawny but I have long arms and good stamina. I got my face handed to me on a grassy platter more than once, but I still enjoyed the sport. There was something about standing up when your body was telling you to go down that made you feel like you were doing something that men do. The idea of getting a bloody nose and then sitting down and drinking a Coke with the guy who gave it to you felt right (Yes, I've done that!).

The summer between my Freshmen and Sophomore years of college, I served my fourth summer on staff at the camp. I was a veteran. I knew the ropes. I knew what my leadership expected of me and for the most part I stepped up and met the demands.

It was during this year that I was placed in charge of refereeing the teenage guys who wanted to box. I took my job seriously and no one will argue that. I never let anyone's temper into the ring. I never let anyone get hurt (unless you count their pride). I would referee the matches with pastors, youth pastors, and counselors watching me. If you ask them, they would tell you that I was focused and did a good job.

But I abstain. During one particular week of teen camp that summer and decided to promote a challenge. I stood in the ring and told the teenagers that if they bloodied the other guys nose, that I would by them a soda or an ice cream from the snack shop...their choice.

I saw brothers climb into the ring together, try to bloody each others nose, and then walk off and buy each other sodas from the snack shop. I saw friends get in and out of that boxing ring all week fighting, sparring, being aggressive, trying to win my prize and then walking away friends.

The next week the camp director came to me and shared with me that we had received one complaint. One pastor had called him and complained about my offering of an ice cream cone to anyone who could bloody someone's nose in a boxing match.

"I'm sorry." I said, "The last thing I wanted to do was cause you any trouble. Do you want me to call the pastor and apologize or anything like that? What do you want me to do to make this right?"

He looked at me and a big smile crept over his face. "I want you to double your prize this week!" And he turned and walked off. I knew him well enough to know that he wasn't kidding. And so...I did as I was told.

The bloody noses, scraped knees, and broken bones helped me become the man I am today. And without sounding heartless, I hope that any boys that I have get a bloody nose once in a while boxing or wrestling. When my kid falls off his bike when he's learning to ride, I plan to tell my kids the same thing that my dad told me, "You better get back on that bike or I'm gonna tan your hide. Ain't no son of mine gonna be a quitter!" He told me something along those lines. And I'm glad he did.

I am sick and tired of the pansy little girls in our churches today that call themselves men. It makes my blood boil to see some of the guys I know act the way that they do. I wouldn't give you a fake nickel for a man whose afraid to get his hands dirty.

To be continued...

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