Growing up in Eight Mile, Alabama was awesome and adventurous. We got into lots of fun, bad, and dangerous things, in a neighborhood full of boys. There were frequent fights over all sorts of nonsense and stupid stuff. The thought that I'm sharing today, presented itself to my mind on yesterday, prior to the beginning of church service. Ultimately, it's about hugs between men. Before I dive in, I'd like to share a bit of how our minds operated as children, concerning manhood. We believed that men didn't cry or show any emotional weakness. If you did, you were a punk and found yourself bullied a bit. Affection between men was absolutely gay. I'm sure we all have heard the term, "pissing contest", right. Well, for little boys, we felt that whoever's stream traveled the farthest, was a "greater man" than the rest. Silly stuff right? The last thing that came along with being a man, was getting girls. Sex made you a real man.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."
Now, let me put the ways of childhood behind me. As a man, who has strived to understand love and compassion more and more, over the past 16 years of my life, I see a greater understanding of what it is to truly be a man. Think about it. God created man in His image and likeness, so our love should mirror His. How many of us, men, have ever shed tears in prayer? How many of us have even wailed out to God, in tough and trying times? I don't care how this sounds, but there are times when a man can only be consoled by another man. It takes a man to know the pain of another. There is nothing weak about it!! There is nothing gay about it!! As men, we have to be able to love one another, as God loves us.
Moving forward, there are some significant hugs I'd like to recognize, that have taken place between myself and certain men in my life. As I mentioned earlier, there was a time I firmly believed that dudes don't hug dudes. The first hug, I'd like to call out is one that took place between Mfundishi Mingo and I. He graduated a year ahead of me and went into the Navy. He was home for a bit during my Senior year, on leave or whatever. When it came time for him to head out, I took him to the airport (back when you could go all the way to the gate with the traveler). As the boarding began and we said our "check ya laters", there was a pause, then a "screw it" moment. We hugged with both arms. That was the first dude hug I had ever given, but he was my friend. To this day, I'd have to say he is one of my most loyal friends, if not THE most loyal. I LOVE YOU BRO!
The next hug took place at my Grandmother's funeral, in December of 1995. I read a poem I had written on the day she passed. After the reading, my father approached me and hugged me. I broke down in his arms and let it all out. I had never hugged my Dad that way before, but at that time, I knew that his arms were the only ones that could comfort me. Thank you God! Side hugs and half hugs were what we had been accustomed to. This was definitely the first truly significant hug between my father and I. There is another moment of significance when it comes to my Dad. I can't remember how old I was but I had to be in preschool or kindergarten. I was ill in some way. It may have been an ear infection or something like it. I had slept the night on the sofa, and early the next morning, before going to work, my father kissed me on the forehead. Dad, it's moment like these that I will never forget. It's moments like these that remind me that you love me! I LOVE YOU DAD!!
Moving right along to August 21st, 1998, the night I got saved. I confessed my life to Christ at St. Andrews Chapel, which was more of a shack in the woods at the time. My Aunts Stella, Nana, and Shirley Paulette were there. I'm not sure if Aunt Lisa was there, but forgive Auntie for this hiccup in recollection. My Uncle Butch was there as well. I hugged everyone there, after spilling my entire being onto the wood floor, in the form of tears. BUT, the hug that stood out and lasted the longest was the hug with Uncle Butch. Again, only a man who had experienced some "stuff" in his life could sustain me and my emotions at that time. Also, it was the only hug I ever remember sharing with my Uncle, EVER, up to that point in my life. There was one more hug of significance Uncle Butch and I shared, and it was just after a surgery where the Doctors discovered there was nothing they could do for him. He was staying over at Aunt Terry's, as he recuperated. I remember hugging him before leaving and his reaction, "OW, not too tight, cause it HOYTS!" It was the last time I saw him alive. I must add that his funeral was awesome!! Uncle Gordon (another man with great hugs) sang, and we truly celebrated Uncle Butch's life that day! This leads me into another hug, that I was not even thinking about until now. At the funeral, I was working in the sound booth and I had a break down moment. Cousin Mark noticed and came over and grabbed me. He held me and whispered something in my ear, that I cannot remember, and my wailing of sorrow quickly turned into uncontrollable laughter. I'll never forget it. I smile and laugh, even now, as I think back to this day. I LOVE YOU UNCLE BUTCH & COUSIN MARK!!
The next hug that came to mind on yesterday took place in 2001, and it came from another cousin, Rodney. It took place on vacation, in Orlando, at a time I needed his forgiveness. He sat me down and let me have it, but not in a mean or ugly way, but a needed way. At this time, he corrected me, chastised me a bit, but also advised and counseled me. When the talk ended, he told me he loved me and he hugged me. It was another needed hug. For someone to forgive you, is great, but to follow it with a hug that holds nothing but love for you.......friggin AMAZING! I LOVE YOU BRO!
Last, but not least, is Uncle Jerry, a man who has hugs on tap. Every hug with Uncle Jerry is significant. It's like that Love that words cannot explain. The man loves and loves deep and you can feel it in EVERY one of his hugs. The weight of Love is what you feel whenever this man hugs you. Thank you for being the man you are and thank you for being all that you were for my father, in his early years of becoming a man. I LOVE YOU!
Ultimately, my family is full of awesome and hard loving men. Everyone man mentioned above has played a significant part in my being who I am today. I love ALL my family, but today, I wanted to highlight a few of the men, real men of the Hampton/Williams seed. What makes these moments stand out, I've come to realize, is God. God moves through and uses people to comfort us. Not only have I felt the arms of my Dad, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends, I've felt the arms of God Himself, confirming His Love for me.
Thank you, Lord, for these men in my life! Thank you for using them to show me Your way, at the times I needed to see You the most. I LOVE YOU, GOD!! I THANK YOU, GOD!! AMEN!
HAPPY MONDAY Y'ALL!! I LOVE EVERY ONE OF YA!!
Bryan Hollomon Williams