By Jason Micheli
To My Preacher’s Kid (about) Becoming a Man
It occurred to me recently that, as a preacher’s kid (PK), you hear me give guidance to others more often than I do for you.
As a result, I thought I’d write you this ‘FYI’ even though it may be a bit premature. In the event I’m ever iced by an angry church member you’ll at least have these 2 cents on record. You’re still at the age when the word ‘selfie’ probably strikes you as a good name for a Marvel villain, and the mere mention of GIRLS makes you blush and wrinkle your nose in contemptuous embarrassment.
This may be premature, but perhaps not. After all, you’ve been learning about ‘the puberty’ at school but, even more so, it seems appropriate because- no matter your age: Who you will be always begins right now, with who your Mom and me are helping you to become.
That’s a parent’s baptismal promise, to shape you so that your character is grounded in the character of Jesus. God, I hope your Mom does a good job of it. What it means to have the character of Jesus, who was the perfect image of God, is to regard others as the exact image of God.
That means, son, to see people as holy, as sacraments, and sacraments- as you’ve learned in church- are examples of a whole lot more than what’s visible to the eye. That means, son, to treat people as (God’s) people. And never as objects. It means you never see only a person’s physical beauty, or notice only their lack of it- which I also hope you’ll learn is a terribly unbeautiful way to live.
Brass tacks time, son:
If you see a pretty girl, in real life or on Instagram, and from that point on that’s all you can see in them or that’s all you can think of them…that’s YOUR fault son NOT the girl’s fault. I hold you responsible and I’m damn sure your Mother will too. Sure, said girl made her choice when she dressed said way. But you make your choices too. You can choose to objectify others or you can choose to treat your neighbors as your self.
Some parents excuse their boys’ demeaning girls by demeaning boys, by saying ‘boys will be boys.’ I think I’ll give you more credit, son, which also means I’m giving you responsibility.
You can treat girls as they should be treated.
But let’s be realistic, sometimes you won’t. You’ll have impulses, thoughts, desires…and THAT’S OKAY. It’s natural. It’s part of being human. It’s not any girl’s fault and it’s not yours either. It’s not dirty or bad or unholy. Jesus (God) was human, don’t forget, so there’s nothing that can run through your head that didn’t run through his. And so there’s nothing you need to be ashamed of. Now that you’re hitting puberty, son, you’ll realize to what an extent that’s gospel, good news.
While we’re on this track, let me just say that, like other parents, your Mother and I certainly hope you’ll ‘wait’ for that perfect girl.
Always remember, though, if you do ‘wait’ you’re no better than anyone else and no worthier of my love. Or God’s. And if you don’t wait, you and your other whomever is no less beautiful to me. Or God. Parents who suggest anything to the contrary are on some ugly, unGospely footing.
Finally, son, let me ask a favor of you. If, in the years ahead, you ever mess up or make a mistake, in the real world or the virtual one, please don’t let me get so self-important that I resort to faith-based innuendo to shame you. Always remember, even I don’t always appear to:
There’s nothing you can do to make me love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make me love you less. I hope that one day you will find someone for whom you can say the same.