Pages on Manhood: A Letter to My Son

by | Sep 21, 2012 | Uncategorized

What do I need to tell my son about being a man? It’s what I think about as I stare at the single candle flickering in front of my brothers 8 X 10, a tight frame capturing his far-away eyes. Sometimes I know by looking, just a glimpse in the eyes, about the tale of the soul.

The way I knew her marriage wasn’t well the day she walked up to the swivel chair and looked at me in the mirror. The way I knew his heart hurt when he crawled into the passenger seat after school.

My brother’s eyes changed after he drove his mother’s car off the bridge that night.  It was my week of the summer to be his sister in real life.  After I went back home to my mother, the sibling relationship, it became a paragraph in books of stories I never read.

His body crosses into eternal, drugs invade like a thief with a key to the front door. I still remember the boy I called brother in footed pajamas, scooping chocolate refrigerator pie into his mouth at the kitchen table.

The day we got the call about my brother’s death, my son shoved four friends into lake water, blew out candles on thirteen and grew hair in new places.

And somewhere between their two lives, waves a prairie of pages scattered like tumbleweed.  Pages on the wisdom of manhood I’m collecting like a book in my mind to give to my son when he crosses the threshold.

Paragraphs that tell you how . . . .

I’m guest posting with my friend, Daniel Allen, where he blogs gritty wisdom for men following Jesus. Join me for the rest of the story here. I would like to know what you would say, if you were in my shoes.

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  1. Diana Trautwein

    The links don’t take me to your post, Shelly… maybe in the morning??

    • Redemption's Beauty

      He just got it up, I guess something was wrong on his end. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Lynn Morrissey

    Shelly, this is without doubt one of the most astonishing posts you’ve ever written, filled with pathos and poignancy–but mostly power….the kind of power that comes in humility and character and courage. These are the attributes that tip the scale from boyhood to manhood, and leave worldly values weightless–blowing in the breeze like that tumbleweed you mention. It seems to me that you have already started writing that book of life for your son and reading the pages to him by the power of your words, your prayers, and your and H’s example. You are teaching him about character that’s real and raw and forged in the furnace of living a godly life. I am so sorry about your brother, and tears brimmed my eyes afresh for your loss and for my own brother who is enduring a living hell. He had just called me minutes before I read your post, in an absolute panic. His problems are insurmountable unless God intervenes. My brother’s pages have been scrawled and scattered to the wind like debris, and he, himself, has been trashed by those who should have loved him. Who will write his book? And yet, I’m reminded that God is not acquainted with trash because He doesn’t create it. I look into my brother’s eyes and see there reflected the One who considers him to be of inestimable worth. My brother’s name has already been written in God’s Book, and these are the pages that will never be scattered or destroyed. And like you are doing with your son, I can pen pages of love and hope and courage for my brother (and I do every several days and send them by post)–ones that I know he is reading, as your son is reading yours. And I trust that God Himself is reading directly to your brother—pages filled with love and wholeness and an eternally fulfilling ending. Shelly, I can’t tell you how much your words have meant to me tonight. I so esteem you and your work. Thank you beyond words for your ministry. Love, Lynn

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you for your poignant thoughts that come from your own well of experience and compassion. I appreciate you Lynn, look forward to sharing your words here on this space soon. I know you will be a breeze of fresh spirit blowing to those that come to the table looking for relief. You are a gift to me, truly.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        You words are soothing balm. God bless and thank you dearest Shelly–*truly*!

  3. Wendy

    Your words slay me today sweet friend. I too am momma to sons and have been thinking about this so much since my oldest is right on the edge of manhood at 16. What to say? How much to say? Oh my heart. Thank you so much for sharing your heart today. Blessings.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      My oldest is a girl Wendy, sixteen too. You’re right, so much to say weighted against what to say and when. So glad you joined the conversation, that I know we share this season of life raising teens.

  4. wynnegraceappears

    Shelly, raising two young men of my own, your words bend my heart and stretch it too. Even in your grief, or especially in your grief, your voice is filled with a searching, desiring beauty to glorify Him. Your writing and your heart do. I hear and feel it. Bless you in your grieving. Bless you in your healing. And may God bless you as you raise your son into manhood. Harrison is a fine young man, growing in strength and daily. You raise a boy well, friend. So well.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Elizabeth, I’m so proud of my kids as I’m sure you are of yours too. Hope you have a great weekend enjoying this gorgeous weather we’re having.

  5. debra elramey (@elramey)

    That first photo, so dreamlike.
    The eyes do tell the tale of the soul, don’t they?
    What is your brother thinking? I wonder.
    I’m so deeply touched by your musings, Shelley.
    And I pray that you continue to find healing in your art and in your heart.

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