In my younger years, I was lured into going into the Navy by my family’s connection to service, the movie Top Gun, and the Kenny Loggins song “Danger Zone.” Mostly Top Gun and Danger Zone. This is what I am listening to right now. It always take me back.
Strange. Maybe. But it’s true.
After the obvious thrill of aircraft carriers, jet airplanes, and walking the tightrope of death, I enlisted and got the “dream job” of working on F/A-18’s. I loved the smell of jet fuel in the morning! Really. I spent 4 years in the Navy, never fully mastering my craft. Between the night-time catapult launches, blazing afterburners and the deafening sound of jet engines screaming off into the night, I lived in a steady mix of pride, fear, and adrenaline fueled with a healthy mixture of “What am I doing here?”
Our squadron was a well decorated, hard charging group of people who never seemed to turn down a flight. There was a lot of pressure to keep the aircraft up and mission ready! One day when I was working below in the hanger bay I was given a rookie task. I was supposed to take off two 1/4 inch nuts, unscrew a plug and inspect/clean an afterburner flame sensor and reinstall it. Again, a rookies job. I got my tool box out and open. Taking out my 1/4 inch socket and ratchet, my menial task was to begin. I took the part out, cleaned and inspected it. It was fine, so I began the install. The flame sensor was in place. All I needed to do was put on two nuts. I installed one without a problem. The other one, well, it went on just fine until I tightened it down too far and it snapped off… inside the engine. This would unfold into a much bigger problem that would prove humiliating and leave me wondering even more, “What am I doing here?”
Word got around that some knucklehead (me) had caused this problem and now, the aircraft is down. Apparently my personal humiliation wasn’t enough, so droves of upper echelon leaders come by for a closer look-see and to take away any dignity I had left. I stood there like an idiot. My ineptitude induced a paralysis that was both a gift and a curse because in those days, I would have said what I thought without care or concern of the audience.
After hours of writhing in self-pity, over thinking, and a good butt chewing, my senior NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) got a borescope (inspection tool) and found the broken part inside the engine, retrieved it and therefore, he saved the day. Yeah (yep, that’s sarcasm)! Not before I had been deeply humiliated and wondered yet again, “What am I doing here?”
This humiliation is very much a feeling I was accustomed too. This is how I felt for much of my upbringing. I didn’t think I could do anything right. Grades, sports, and bad decisions gave me an injection of poor self-image and insecurities. I didn’t have people lining up to tell me good job for things I did right either. I have words now to describe it, but back then all I had was anger, silence and a damaged soul. I craved to be affirmed, to be encouraged and emotionally supported. Men, we all do. Don’t ever accept defeat in this area. You can be fully known.
I longed for someone to tell me “good job” or “well done” and when that didn’t come, I took matters into my own hands. This is a dangerous place to be. A man who doesn’t know where to direct his strength will possess others to find it or create it.
If a man doesn’t have affirmation in his life, he will always wonder if he has what it takes to be a man or to do what is required of him.
In my youth, those needs were unmet, I was confused.
This confusion and lack of affirmation spurred me to develop some corrosive habits.
I become a perfectionist. I strived for individuality. I manipulated others to get what I wanted. I am not proud of these things, but I won’t hide the truth.
I am still fighting battles on these fronts, but I am gaining ground. You can too.
You may be asking yourself,
“What is wrong with me?”
“Can I do anything right?”
“Is this the right thing to do or to be?”
“What is a man to do?”
Men, we need to know where to start. We need to orient ourselves around Someone that is timeless and always true. We need affirmation from God, our Creator.
This too, is a part of our quest to be fully known.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29–31, NIV 84
You and I need to be reminded by God that he approves or disapproves of what we do. These give us affirmation, confidence and security to fly off into the horizon of our lives and into our danger zones (you know I had too)!
We affirm a manhood that honors God and help one another to become their best masculine self. Apart from God, it is impossible.
@anewkindofman is a tribe of men who will be there to offer what many of our fathers and father figures could not or would not give, affirmation.