So I have been reading the book Wild at Heart. It is a book about discovering the secret’s of a man’s soul. The section I read recently was about how manhood is bestowed from a man to a boy.
It speaks about how every boy needs to have a specific moment (or moments) when he is faced with a great challenge and he is specifically told that he has what it takes to overcome.
So it wasn’t until several days after I had read that section of the book did it actually hit me right in the heart. So let me tell you a story.
When I was in 7th grade I lost a good friend. He decided life was not worth living. Justin took his own life. I still don’t like to say it. I often wonder what he would be doing now had he not made that choice.
I remember hearing rumors at school.
I remember coming home from school to find my youth pastor waiting for me.
I remember knowing immediately that something had gone wrong.
I remember playing basketball in my driveway.
I remember going to a gathering at church.
I remember hugs, tears and a whirlwind of indecipherable activity.
I remember it sinking in that Justin wouldn’t be there.
I don’t remember anything about his funeral.
But I remember going to the cemetery for the graveside portion.
But I now know that one of the most important events of my life occurred between the service at the church and the gathering at the cemetery.
See, Justin’s father asked me to be a pallbearer.
We all know that no parent should ever have to bury their child. I would like to add that no 12-year old boy should ever have to carry his friend’s dead body.
I think that is when it really sunk in. I felt like it was wrong that I was even asked that. But I felt like it was wrong that I should have to answer such a question. Simply because there is something so backwards about death. Life was flipped upside down and there was no reversing the effects.
But here is the most critical part. I remember looking at my parents after getting bowled over with the question. They told me that it would be an extremely difficult task but that I had their permission and that I possessed the strength to overcome it.
I had permission to grow and had the strength and courage to carry the weight of my dead friend’s casket.
As I grasped the bar that ran the length of his casket, I remember feeling the weight. But I remember thinking it was so heavy that I really didn’t make much of a difference if I “carried” it or not. It almost felt like a mere formality at the time. I now know that is false.
See the ceremony may actually have been serving two purposes. Obviously, Justin made his choice and was placed in the ground. But death does not have the final word.
See the truth is that while we were carrying an irrevocably dead boy to his grave, a man was being born at the very same time.
Read that again.
The thing is that it took 13 years for me to realize it but God began healing that pain right then. It wasn’t just covered with the Band-aid of time. But He has healed and He has redeemed. And it is not done yet.
I did have what it took to carry the weight. I still have what it takes to carry weight. But it is no longer simply my parents believing in me, but I am a man who believes in myself.
“Behold I am making all things new.” –God