My wife and I had an adventure over the years when asking God for a family. We have had numerous miscarriages and disappointments along the way, most of which occurred before our first little girl bounced into our world in September of 2001. After a second baby girl batted her eyes at Daddy in 2003 I felt as if I was meant to be a father of daughters. Knowing several wrestlers and wrestling coaches that God gave all female squads at home (my high school coach and the legendary Dan Gable both came to mind) I deeply suspected that a man child might not be my future. Yet an ultra sound in 2006 changed all that. Well, it was actually a genetic combination at conception that changed it all, but my knowledge became aware of things at the ultra sound - ontology before epistemology…being always preceeds knowing. Thomas Reid Monaghan was born in August of 2006 and struggled a bit in his first weeks of life. After some time in the NICU we brought home a baby boy.
Now that little baby is a two year old whirlwind who is bouncing off the walls left and right. His level of energy and his ability to turn everything into a sword or light saber continues to amaze. I enjoy each of my kids and I enjoy learning how to lead and teach them. I pray about this often, try to pay attention to what is going on in moments with them and try to seek wisdom from God to channel my kids in good directions. Recently, Tommy and I bonded over what I am calling our “man words”
Of course it is quite evident to him that we are both men and that we are different from Mom and his sisters. We are working on potty training and all I have to say is that he knows only Daddy can “shoot dat water.” Anyway, the other day I was praying virtues over him at bed time. Not that he has a clue yet what virtues are, but I was praying man prayers over his little life with some vigor. Three words kept coming to me as I prayed for the little gremlin…Courage, Truth, Valor.
So I decided to make these our “official man words.” So in the midst of an intense sword fight with turkey basters (yeah, seriously) I yelled out three words with some pause in between and with my turkey baster held high. COURAGE! TRUTH! VALOR! The little guy just looked at me curiously, jumped in the air, spun around and shouted a bunch of two year old accented nonsense. It was awesome! But now he knows Daddy and he have something special - we share man words. I will sometimes just drop out a “COURAGE…TRUTH” on him and he’ll smile sheepishly and let loose a “Vawor”
Someday we’ll discuss that a man must have courage to walk in a way that is good and right and true. A man must have courage to face his own inner demons, stand and lead others in a chaotic and challenging world. He will know that it takes humble courage to repent of pride and bow his knee and strength before the God who can save him.
Someday we’ll discuss that courage must lead a man to truth and the one who is truth. He will learn the integrity of his word and to take God at his. He will lean that the truth is painful, must be fought for and he must stand in truth no matter how the winds and waves of history flow.
Finally, someday he would learn to combine courage, virtue and battle in the arena of his peers, his family and his own children. Valor is a lost thing among many men today - I pray it not lost in the Monaghan home team. Valor means to be of worth, strength in mind or spirit that enables a man to encounter danger with firmness. Valor walks through fear in the strength of God and then climbs upon the walls of life to stand for faith, family and friends.
The ancient warrior Joshua once had God speak man words into his life:
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As little Thomas continues to grow, we have lots of work to do with the little guy. Yet the call is clear - Courage, Truth and Valor my son - the fight is before us and God is very near.