I’m Half the Man I used to be….

I left the house the other morning with my son, and dropped him off at school in plenty of time (if you don’t know how big of a deal that is read this).  I turned on the radio, lowered the window, stuck my hand out and began making wave motions to the Dave Matthews Band song that was playing on the radio.

It was turning out to be such a good morning….and that’s when I heard the commercial.   he man

“Hey guys, do you know your testosterone level?….well you should.”  Testosterone level? Of course I don’t know my testosterone level.  She sounded shocked that I didn’t have an answer for her, and she was helpful enough to explain to me that the best years of my life most likely occurred when I was just 19.

I’m sorry… what now?….19??  The only thing I remember about being 19 is that I’m glad I am no longer 19.  Now I’m being told that the pinnacle of my life happened 17 years ago?  She continued in sultry tones to tell me that falling testosterone levels are making me slow, tired, forgetful, lifeless, boring, and less appealing to my wife. “It’s not my testosterone levels” I shouted at her, “My wife and I have 3 children under the age of 8!?!” Didn’t she understand this?  She refused to listen, and continued to inform me that without her supplement, I could look forward to years of sharp decline ending in my 40’s, where I would be found lying in my pajamas on a recliner, wearing a ball cap, Isotoner slippers, with an afghan draped over me as I watched the morning business reports.

I pulled my hand back inside, closed the window, and stared in to the distance. Suddenly I felt tired. I caught my reflection in the rear view mirror and notice a hearty swath of grey hair growing up around the fence row of my forehead.

I let out a long sigh as I entered the supermarket to pick up some items for my wife.  I walked up to the self-checkout  and set down some pull-ups, Clorox wipes, a gallon of milk, and a bag with 2 donuts inside.  (might as well go out eating something I love).  Next to me this young guy sets down a 6 pack of Red Bull and a pack of Hostess donuts.  “I was once like you” I whispered to him….”Before the decline”….”You’ll see”….

I searched the code wheel for the appropriate numbers to punch in to the machine. It rang up for a dozen donuts. I tried to go back but hit the spanish button instead. As the machine was explaining what to do next in a language I didn’t understand, I tried to punch in a different code. That’s when the alarm went off, flashing lights spun overhead, and the computer said, “Attendant has been notified to assist you.”  On the screen there was actually a picture of the “attendant” who stared at me with a sympathetic smile, as if to say, “hey, it’s okay buddy, this is a big, scary, complicated machine and with your testosterone levels decreasing, it’s no wonder you had so much trouble.”

Every day we are ambushed by a marketing machine designed to make us feel inadequate so as to sell us the answer in the form of a pill, a diet plan, designer label, newest self-help book, gold portfolio, and full body detox programs.  The whole system is designed to tell us we are not happy, not who we should be, but we still have a chance if only….And we fall for it, we make the payments, we buy the products and we wear the clothes.  We chase that which another human being has labeled as “ideal” and we subtly teach our children to do the same. In the absence of finding ultimate value and worth, we gladly chase cheap imitations of significance.

After “Testosterone Girl” and her commercial came on yet again, I turned the radio off, opened the car window and stuck my hand out into the cool spring air. I pulled into our drive way and opened the door to the house, “Honey, your man is home.” I declared with a Tarzan sort of swagger. My wife looked at me confused, “You ok?” “Oh I’d say I’m doing pretty good, numerically, I’m probably above average compared to other men my age” I bragged as I pulled her in for a hug.

“Oh hey I got you something today” she says. “Oh, what is it?” I said.

“Well I found these house slippers on sale today, and I know you don’t normally wear that sort of thing, but they are SO soft….I put them by your recliner if you want to try them on”.

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Letters to my Children: You Talk too Much

Dear Adeline,adeline

From the time you were born, you have always had so much to say.  Each morning, before the first bite of syrup-soaked waffle brushes your lips, you have already burned through a small book of observations, comments, songs, questions, random thoughts and unusual mouth sounds.  Each night you spend your last moments, using any unspent words from the day to reject the advances of sleep.

The daylight between those two moments find your brother and I staring at each other in confused disbelief as your mind rotates from one line of thinking to another without missing a beat…. while your Mother just smiles at you like a woman who is on the inside of a secret.

Lately, you have been learning a lot about Jesus, His death on the cross and His resurrection.  You have been talking all about it:

“Daddy, did you know that Jesus died on the cross for our sins??”

 “Three days later he just rose again from the tomb!”

 “Jesus took all of our sin and POOF, they’re gone daddy!”

 “When Jesus died on the cross he broke our sins and we are free!”

 “Can you believe that Jesus died on the cross?”

 “No matter what we do, God still loves us.”

You’re voice is so animated; your eyes are wide and wild. You speak with a smile as you repeat this surprise over and over to anyone and everyone who will listen.  You talk about Jesus as though He is the greatest person who has ever lived, as though the cross and empty tomb was the greatest event in all of history.  When I hear you tell the story, I actually believe it is good news.

As people get older, they don’t talk about Jesus…. at least not like you talk about Him.  You speak so matter-of-fact about Him, you seem genuinely surprised at this unexpected gift, and you assume that others want to hear this amazing story.  But we grown-ups tend to talk about the cross in muted tones and in “appropriate” places.  We know that the answer is Jesus, we just aren’t as amazed as we used to be.

I don’t know why we don’t talk more about Jesus.  I suppose you talk about someone to the extent that you have let him in to your life and allowed him to reshape who you are.  I know for me, the moment my life intersected with your Mother’s, it has never been the same. Then we had, Evan, and a few years later you came along.  Then the surprise that is, Malina, happened and now I find myself forever changed. I don’t know a life that is outside of the one shaped by my family and I welcome any opportunity to talk about you guys to anyone who will listen.

Your brother and I might be tempted to say you talk too much right now. But in your impressive display of words are cradled the very depth and length and width and height of God’s love.  The reason you seem so surprised and amazed and filled with Joy is because the good news of, Jesus, is surprising and amazing and the source of lasting joy.

May you always see the wonder that is Jesus, and never stop talking about Him.

Love,

Your Dad.