Sometime ago, my wife got the opportunity to pursue further studies abroad.
Let me back track a bit. About a year ago, during a conversation with an older couple, I remember us talking about decisions and challenges that young couples face. Half way through that conversation, they proceeded to stress that my wife and I ought not to loosely categorize ourselves as a young couple.
And then it hit me. It is easy to hide under the banner of youth and miss the fact that you are growing. What our mentor couple was basically saying, in no uncertain terms is that our response to some of the decisions that we make as a couple would have to demonstrate maturity.
As a married couple, that meant making decisions with a view on the long term. It meant putting away my boyish ways of handling issues and taking on a more mature approach, not just in my marriage, but also in my life.
But how then can a young man learn how to make these decisions? How can a young man develop good perspective to the hard questions that life throws his way? Or as Bob Dylan so famously sang, how many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?
There are many times I have faced decisions in my life that have forced me to my knees in prayer. Especially as a man that is leading a family. As I mentioned earlier, my wife got a chance to pursue a course abroad. This was a big decision for my family as the repercussions on whether to accept or decline this opportunity were grave. Obviously, we had to consider whether or not to accept this opportunity factoring in the long-term impact of either decision on our family.
How can a young man learn how to make the tough decisions? I have had to go to God. Despite the fact that we consulted other couples that had faced a similar situation, ultimately, the final decision had to be made by us. What I found quite funny was that no two couples approached this issue in the same way. However, the principles that informed their decisions were influenced by their faith as Christians.
Love as is portrayed in the Bible is a choice.
Many people quote the verse that husbands are called to love their wives. What they don’t do, however, is finish that sentence. The full quote calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. The love that is being spoken about is a sacrificial love. A love that is selfless. A love that thinks of the welfare of the other person first.
Sometimes, I look at those definitions and I’m shocked at how sometimes I fall short of that standard. The truth of the matter is that the love that is expected of you in marriage is a love that you cannot give on your own.
Agape love is love that is derived from the spirit. And it is to the Holy Spirit that you must go to learn how to show love to your wife.
For a long time, one of my friends would nag me about the need to join a Bible study. I was never one for groups. I would go to Church and do the basics to call myself Christian. As God would have it, I found myself in a Bible Study group despite my best efforts. The people in this group were around my age and the more I attended the meetings, the more I realized that we shared common interests and frustrations about life.
Some of the guys were dating, and it was fascinating to see how they showed leadership in their relationships. I remember the shock I had, when I found out some of them were actually engaged to be married. For me, marriage was something to be considered later on in life. When all the stars were aligned, and you were well on your way to the ‘successful life’. I was still in the early stages of my career, and so were the members of my study, so you can imagine my shock at that time to hear your friend is getting married.
I got to learn that marriage is about building a life together, from scratch. I got to see my friends contend with the complexities of life with a maturity that I always admired. And I believe that it was at that point when I realized that God was working on me. My outlook in life was being revised, and it was at that point that I met the girl that I would eventually marry.
The Bible study that I am in now is a different one. It’s one with much older people, family men and women.
How can a young man learn how to make the tough decisions in life? Find older men whose faith you share. Though I would not say that I picked the people in my study, I found that I’ve learned a lot about my role as a man simply by observing other men within my study.
There was one day I remember, when the husband to one of our members insisted on picking his wife at the end of one of our Bible study session. We normally conclude at around 8:30p.m or 9:00p.m and that specific day we went through to 10:30p.m. Whereas it would have been easier for the lady to take a taxi back home, her husband made the trip from his house to mine to come and pick his wife. I was blown away by that demonstration of love.
Manly confidence, says Dr. Oliver Kisaka, is quiet, steady and focused on important things. It is being able to identify and nurture gifts. And therefore, looking at where my family is, and the gifts that God has placed in our custody, God will hold me accountable as the leader of my home for the extent to which those gifts are given opportunity to flourish.
It such an understanding that compels me to make decisions that seek help my family grow. For me specifically, it’s meant beginning to think about going back to school and showing support to my wife in her plans for the same. Though this may sound very easy and obvious, I assure you that it’s not.
How can a man learn how to make the right decisions in this area?
I have found myself going back several times to our mentor couple for advice on many, many issues. They’re now in their late 60’s and have gone through pretty much most of the stuff we take their way.
The older I become, the more consequential my decisions are. As a man, and now as a husband, my decisions have an impact on my family. It is this sense of responsibility that sometimes can be scary. But I’m encouraged by the examples of other men who have walked this road. I draw strength from the support we exchange with other men my age that are walking in this road.
I am still very, very, very far from where I need to be. But I feel that I am on the right track.
This is in the hope that when younger men that look up to us, that when they sift through all we’ve left behind, the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.
May all who come behind us, find us faithful – Said Steve Green.