“A man is born as many men, but, dies as a single one”
There I was on that cold November morning back in 1970. A bouncing baby boy born to a woman who didn’t know at the time the strength she would have to conjure up to raise me on her own. Yes, there I was born as many men influenced by the environment that surrounded me. It’s now 41 years later and I’m on a journey to die as a single one. This story is more about the character of man I will die as and not about the many facets of man that I have lived. Just hang in here with me. I’m going somewhere with this one.
Each day we live my friends is a day we are closer to death. This process starts at the very moment we are born. When we are born we have no habits, except maybe an addiction to sleep and milk. When we were babies we had no ideas or personalities, at least not any we could have formed into words or expressed with actions. All a baby can do is cry. As a father, when the baby cries we don’t really know what he or she wants. We just hope that it is that addiction to milk which causes the uproar and in the mouth the bottle goes. However, mothers have an instinct that we just don’t possess as fathers. A mother can tell if her baby wants milk or has a tummy ache and just needs to be comforted. How do they know that if the baby can’t talk and only cries?
How quickly babies grow and progress mentally and physically. A year has passed and baby can walk now after having crawled for so long from one point to another. Whatever language is native to them starts to form one word at a time. Before long, more personality and physical ability is developed and baby boy is aware of and adapts to his environment. He speaks what he hears and mimics what he sees. In that environment is where an abundance of behavioral patterns are formed.
As years had gone by into my teenage years and on into young adulthood, I had grown into many men. I was a master at keeping up with all these different facets of man. I knew when to be who I needed to be and where I needed to be that particular man. I was the good son when in the company of my mother. Most of the time I did things to make her proud. I never let her see me down so as to chase away her worries. If only she knew. I have done things as another type of man when in the presence of the crew I hung around with. Oh boy! We did things that my mother, nor theirs, would be proud of. In front of my crew, I had to be that man who had the same emotional characteristics of a railroad rock. To prove none in the crew was as soft as a cotton ball, we drank the good stuff and smoked the better stuff. We were higher than an Alpine Ash. We only have God to thank that some of us are still around. We were covered by the blood even in our ignorance.
I was another type of man when it came to women. Armed with lust and memorized lyrics of the most sexual Prince songs, I almost always had something to say in order to get to the prize. Fornication and adultery became a lifestyle that I was sure I would never grow weary of. Like many men, I never cared about the penalties that came with that lifestyle nor did I care then about the women whose well-being I would negatively impact for the rest of their lives and, consequently, for the rest of mine. Oh what a selfish somebody I was.
While there were other men I played the character of in certain company, one of the most important was the man who knew how to act in front of church people. I became a man of the church. There is a difference between being a man of the church and being a man of God. To become a man of the church, one has to study. Likewise, studying is required to be a man of God as well. You have to learn what makes the Pastor of the church happy when you are a man of the church. If you are a singer or musician and still embroiled in sin, you can still make the Pastor happy as long as you are still singing and playing. But what about making God happy? Do we praise and worship the Pastor when we should be praising and worshipping God? When you are a church man, you learn what makes the church people happy too. You find that group of church of people whose behavior is most like yours. You do what they do and say what that say. If you curse, they curse. If you get drunk, they get drunk. Everyone is pleased in their own little groups. Yet, not one in the group is trying to please God. When you are a man of the church, you are easily distracted by the woman whose dress is more suitable for a late night social event than for a Sunday morning service. That’s the way it is when you are a man of the church and not a man of God.
A man is born as many men, but, dies as a single one. Through an infinite desire to be relieved of being many men, there is only one place to find that relief. I can’t find it in establishing a relationship with my father who wasn’t there. I can’t find it in the arms of my wife whom I love so dearly. I can’t find it in the smiles of my children when they are delighted to see me walk through the door. To be a man of God and not a man of the church or any other man, I had to first be in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the verse states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (KJV). There is no more of the man who posed as the good son in the presence of his mother. He has passed away. There is no more of the alcohol drinking, weed smoking homeboy in the hood. He has passed away. There is no more of the fornicating, adulterous and selfish man. He, too, has passed away. There is no more man of the church. Old things are passed away. I am transformed into a man of God.
When it is my time to leave this place, everyone that knows me will remember something significant about me. I am a son, a father, a brother, a cousin, a nephew and to some a friend. To be perfectly honest, while still in this flesh, I remain a fallible creature. As the Apostle Paul said, “Where ever I go, evil is always present.” I won’t always say or do the right things. I might even sometimes be subject to behavior I will have to pray about. If I should find myself in a hole, the first thing I’m going to do is stop digging. Yes, I was born as many men, but, I will die as a single one.