story from the field

Submitted by Gene McCumber, TTWM Partner

 
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So, my family was attending a party at a friend’s house. There were probably a total of 40 people there including several couples with whom Annie (my wife) and I had become close. We were engaged in conversation about motorcycles with two such couples. I own and enjoy a motorcycle. It is my second, and I’ve been riding for a total of five years. I have taken the PA Motorcycle safety course and consider myself a cautious, safe rider. It is important to note that I am 8-10 years older than the other participants in this conversation. Here’s a snapshot of how the pertinent portion of the dialogue went:

 

Husband 1: She doesn’t want me to get a motorcycle. She thinks they’re dangerous.

Husband 2: Yeah, my wife doesn’t want me to get one either. She doesn’t understand how much fun they are.

Me: Well, just buy one, have her ride it with you, and then she’ll get it!

I’m sure everyone over the age of 35 just cringed. I said what I said in jest with a smile on my face while laughing.during the latter part. I believe it was received in the manner with which it was intended because neither of these guys has taken my “advice”. However, I had a revelation about a week later. It went something like this: “Dude, you can’t joke like that with these guys. You should be giving real wisdom and good advice, not telling them the best way to start the next fight with their spouse. Even joking like that is unacceptable. YOU’RE NOT A KID ANYMORE! These guys look up to you and listen to what you say.”

At the time of this revelation, I was 33, married for twelve years, father of four children, owner of a home and two vehicles, employed at a full-time job, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. It really feels like I should have gotten the hint that I’m not a kid anymore before making a terrible joke, but, that really woke me up. I hate that it takes mistakes to make me see things like this. But it’s important to learn from the mistakes.

I have a very deep relationship with an elder at our church who is ten years older than I am. We’ve walked through a lot together, and he has spoken much life into me. Has he made mistakes? Sure. But who hasn’t? Seeing where we are now gives me hope for my relationships with those younger than I.

I keep that motorcycle story close, especially when interacting with young adults. About a month ago, I had the opportunity to speak life into a guy who is ten years younger than I, and i took it. He happens to be one of the guys in the motorcycle story, so there’s some redemption there. It was encouraging to me to hear him respond with, “Thanks. I really needed to hear that” with tears in his eyes. I had spoken truth about who he is and who he is not, and he received it.

As I look forward to 2019, I see a deep need for me to continue speaking life into those around me. The world speaks much death and untruth. The people around me don’t need to hear it from me as well.

DISCLAIMER: If you want a motorcycle, but your wife doesn’t want you to get one, I advise you to keep that conversation open until you have reached a consensus together. DON’T JUST GO BUY A MOTORCYCLE!