by Justin Harper
Every week during football season, you and the guys get together at the local pub to watch your favorite team. Nothing gets in the way of this. Your wives have come to accept it, and manage the home while you are out. This is your time with the guys; an almost sacred gathering. You have been doing this for years.
You can quote stats, remember those obscure plays, even slide in a bit of humorous banter. You feel a connection with them; you are one of them! There is a pride and honor to be part of this group. All week you look forward to these few hours to relax, get into the game, and have a few beers. It’s game time!
This group is likely the extent of your social circle. Let’s be real, it is hard to connect with guys unless there is a shared interest, and sports is an almost universal given.
You get home, the kids are down, and your wife asks you how it went. “How is John’s wife doing?” or “Did Claire make it on that soccer team she was trying out for?”. Umm, what? You certainly didn’t think to ask. The thought runs through your mind, “Should I have? I mean, they didn’t ask me about my family. Nah, that’s not how the guys talk.” And so you uneasily mumble an “I don’t know” and move on to other topics.
This dynamic is all too common. It is a woman thing, to ask these questions, right? It’s got to be; you don’t hear guys talk that way. Why should they?
When God created Adam, he did so in isolation. Adam was created knowing only God, and his creation. He did not know Eve. What we do know is that Adam and God conversed with each other. But about what? Interests, hobbies, entertainment? Possibly; it’s hard to really know. We do know however that their conversations must have been deep, if God gave Adam the task of naming all of creation. To name something meant to take ownership of it, and to also take on a role of leadership and protection. This does not happen in some trivial conversation! Rather, it goes to the heart of identity.
Eve was created into community. When she began to exist, she already had Adam at her side. She came from his side!
When we look at men and women today, what do we see? We see men living in isolation, and we see women living in community with others. And the two couldn’t understand each other less!
God created Eve for Adam, and declared that it was good! What does this mean for us? Men to a certain degree are called into isolation. It is here that they enter deeply into their relationship with God. They are also called into community! God said “it is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18) It is important to note that God never makes mistakes; his statement that “it is not good” does not indicate an error previously made, but rather speaks to the permanence of the reality. ‘It is not good that the man should be alone [forever]”. (emphasis added)
As men, we must at times enter into isolation, in order to experience the living God. But we also must be in community with others. If the relationship between Adam and the Father shows us anything, it is that it was deep and revealing. God shared of himself with Adam, and Adam with God.
So what about football at the pub with the guys? Is that wrong? Certainly not! It’s just not enough. It is easy to confuse this with real community. But if we think about it, does this dynamic allow for men to really know about the others, and to support and encourage them through the trials of life? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) Yes, most certainly.
Men don’t easily see the value of this type of relationship, but having a true brother to stand by you through difficulties is of the greatest value and support. “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Deep conversations are not just a woman thing, although women inherently excel at it. God calls men to depth, and calls them into brotherhood with each other.
So next time the game is on, invite the men to go a little early. Ask them about their families, about work, about their interests outside of football. Start the momentum; be real, and share of yourself. And soon enough, you are likely to find that you value your brothers even more than the sport, and football gives you a good excuse to see them again.