I’m writing you this letter to let you know I made it to the other side, and you will soon be alright. Manhood is not a destination. It is a continuous journey that can be appropriately taken, provided we are mindfully heading in that direction. Manhood is the North Star for every man that sets foot on this earth. His maleness consistently heads him south. Down in the dumps of humanity, where he makes mistakes and wreaks havoc. Manhood is the forward progress of every man who decides to matriculate his walk and to elevate himself. However, the questions you will forever ask are, “Am I heading in the right direction?” and “How do I know, for sure, that I am?”
I’m sending you this because I realize now that, like our biological father, we would have done better if we had more valuable instruction. Every endeavor in life is enhanced and affected by the guidance we receive and the accountability we accept. I often cry, knowing how much you missed out on. I cry thinking about the messaging you received that permitted you to participate in what would soon come to be known as “toxic masculinity.” While our mother did a phenomenal job of giving you instruction in becoming a responsible and conscious being, she couldn’t teach you how to be something she was not.
I cry for the times you just needed a hug — from a man to reassure you that your pathway forward would be in the right hands. I cry for the times you were abused both mentally and emotionally. Looking back, I cry for the times you had to [literally] fight your way out of an environment that said you would be less of a man if you weren’t a good fighter and if you didn’t pick a fight with someone twice or even three times your size. I also cry for the times that your sexuality was taught to be an extension of your manhood. And how it trapped you into believing you had to continually prove your worth as a “man” based on how many women you were physically intimate with. It damaged you tremendously in ways that I still have to address, for the sake of manhood and my marriage.
The things you once longed for as a male will begin to dissipate, and the tastes of maleness will be replaced with the appetite of manhood.
As a man, I get emotional thinking about how dangerous it was for you in that mental state of being and how toxic you were to yourself! Never mind those around you. Truthfully, you were of little good to yourself at many times. Like every person in the world, we all become better at things we get information and instruction about. Remember, our favorite athletes all became great because they received great coaching. I need you to understand if an athlete needs skillful coaching to become exceptional, you will need great coaching to become a great man. So listen to all of the older wise men when they tell you the “key to your best life is becoming a servant leader.”
You will also be required to forgive your biological father for causing so much pain. You will not be permitted to use your father as an excuse as to why you never made it to the other side. Every day that you don’t do the work, you are abandoning the better version of yourself that awaits you across the threshold of manhood. Understand that your father couldn’t father you because he was unfathered. He couldn’t give you what he never got from his own father, and subsequently, his deficit in the area of masculinity messaging arrested his development as a man.
There will be many males in your presence that will ridicule you because you choose to break generational male curses deemed as “man traditions.” Although challenging, you will have to walk away from people that don’t want to let go of those kinds of afflictions because they will impugn your dignity. They will call you weak because they lack the information and instruction necessary to get them to see themselves clearly. You will have to be stronger than you ever thought possible, but you will get even stronger as you strengthen who you are becoming as a man! The kind of man that always puts service over self. The things you once longed for as a male will begin to dissipate, and the tastes of maleness will be replaced with the appetite of manhood. It will be painful at times, but it will always be redemptive.
Soon, you’ll “look” like a man and be given credit for being a man because you have the “uniform” of one. People will also hand you the title simply because you hit a milestone birthday. But don’t be fooled! You will look like a man because of your facial hair, the shape of your body, the size of your feet, the car you drive, your watch, and your access. All of those things will briefly distract people from recognizing that you are still stuck in a boy’s mental capacity.
Please begin to align yourself with men that are where you want to go and focus on men who are in the spiritual business of mastering themselves for the sake of serving others. Until you admit you are still stuck in the space of mastering others to serve yourself, your matriculation into manhood will be forever stalled. Your growth hinges on whether you make the most critical shift you will ever make in life; manhood. Trust me, your wife and children will depend on it, and so will your community. Every woman in the world will depend on you being the man that God intended you to be when you were created.
Please don’t let him down. Please don’t put off your destiny. Please don’t dishonor your calling in life. And please honor your mother and all of the work she put into helping you become the person that I am now.
I need you to hear a few things that you didn’t hear often and a few things that you didn’t hear at all. And each of them will serve as the tonic that you will need to reverse the toxic effects of the life that you are experiencing as a male:
-I love you -You will be a great man -You will become a significant voice -You will become an influential writer -You will change the world for the better
Know that all of these things are true! Believe them! Trust that they will happen if you stay committed to your daily work to be better. There is purpose in your pain, and your entire journey will make sense shortly. While God didn’t create your pain, He will help use it as fertilizer for your purpose and allow you to use it for your elevation and activation.
I have become a great husband to a loving wife — a great father to two thoughtful and kind children. Do you remember when you wondered whether you would make it as an actor? Well, I have a 35-year career as a working actor, which has been a blessing. But here’s the thing — the house you live in, the cars you drive, the jewelry you wear, and the money you make — none of those things matter to you anymore. We assumed incorrectly and were fooled into believing those things would define our happiness.
Rest assured, you are the “richest man alive” because you have purpose! And that purpose has been carried out with great precision.
You’ve finally found your purpose in life, and now each day, you awaken to feel like the happiest man alive. One of your often-used quotes is, “acting is my passion, but activation is my purpose!” Each day gets better and better, and the life you wanted for yourself, I now have. We just achieved it differently than you initially thought. But rest assured, you are the “richest man alive” because you have purpose! And that purpose has been carried out with great precision.
In closing, I’m sending you a book. It’s called Male vs. Man. You may recognize the author. He is the version of your future self that you have become because of your commitment to manhood. Please read it. It will feel a little like déjà vu when you get to this side, but it is indeed real, and your work is truly necessary!
I’m so proud of you because you didn’t quit. Now let’s do the rest of this together.