Our lives are marked by threshold moments but I believe one threshold is mysteriously missing in our culture – the rite of passage to manhood. If the past 12 months of my life could be reflected in objects, they’d be represented as pictured above. It was around this time last year that we welcomed our son, Valor, into the world. We kept the gender a secret from ourselves, wanting to be surprised until the arrival of God’s gift to us. Prior to his arrival, I was reminded of the story of Gideon and how, despite the odds being against him, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to Gideon, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of Valor.” Valor means bravery, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness. The word was marked on my heart (and soon after tattooed on my arm). The moment Valor was born in the comfort of our own home with our precious daughters singing “happy birthday” just seconds of him entering into the world, we knew his name would be, Valor. Having a son has radically transformed my life. The past 12 months have, without a question, been the best days, weeks, and months of my life.
The word CHILDLIKE became my word for 2018 as I observed my three children and the way I saw endless wonder in their eyes. Manliness and childlikeness seem to be at odds with each other, but they’re not. I want to die young at a ripe old age! Most men lose their childlike sense of wonder, and that’s the day we stop living and start dying. A child’s faith, their trust, their joy, their forgiving hearts, their sense of spontaneity, adventure and fearlessness inspired me. For the past 12 months I decided to live out that word as robust as possible in all areas of my life and I’ve done things I’ve never done before, like falling in love with the ocean, which always scared me. Paddle boarding led to surfing. Once a distant admirer of the waves, I’ve learned to fall in love with them and immerse myself in. C.S. Lewis said, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.” This past year, it’s in having a son that I’ve learned how to be a son, and enjoy my Heavenly Father like I never have up until this point in my life. I’ve seen the fingerprints of God as I’ve embarked on new adventures, made new friendships, deepened old relationships. Finally deciding to learn how to play chess and enjoy it for hours! Talking about hopes and dreams, and having intentional conversations over countless cups of coffee; making a decision at the beginning of the year with a band of brothers to put selfishness aside and pursue Biblical manhood through servant leadership — we gave each other matches in a glass bottle to remind ourselves of the decision we made that evening and to serve as a constant reminder to always fan the flame of integrity in our lives. To remind myself of what God desires for me, I would set an alarm to go off at 10:27am as a reminder of Luke 10:27 which says, “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your strength and with ALL your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Today I’m 33. In 2 days Audrey turns 5. And in 3 days Valor turns 1.
I’m living my dream as a husband, father, child of God — and I know it is still just the beginning. The child of God knows that one day all the bad things will turn out for good, the good things cannot be taken away, and the BEST things have yet to come. I believe it, I proclaim it, and I’m looking forward to it!
All photos captured by the incredible Jenn Daigle