“Is there a man in your life?”

“Is there a man in your life?” I was walking purposefully, head down, not making eye-contact, trying to navigate across the church courtyard.  It had taken me 45 minutes to make it this far, and I needed to get to my car. I answered too quickly: “Nope, not today,” as if he was trying to sell me solar panels or a dozen lobsters at Costco.

Then I looked up. The man at the men’s ministry table looked crestfallen. “That’s really sad,” he said.

Is there a man in my life? “Nope, not today” isn’t even close to the truth. Sure, I was answering accurately according to what I thought he might be asking, conference brochure outstretched. I wasn’t offended by his question, but I’ve been thinking about it all day, and here’s what I wish I’d said:

“Is there a man in your life?”  “You betcha–lots of them!  Stacks and heaps of ’em!  My pastor who helped me buy the right car. The police officer at church who is always ready with a joke. My friend who sees the big picture more clearly than I do. My sweet father and big brother. My landlord who taught me how to smoke meat. My “borrowed” dad in the Last Frontier. My gregarious boss. The alumnus who writes to ask if he can have a team of students visit.  The colleagues who make my joy complete. John Newton, though he be dead, yet speaketh. My prof-turned-colleague who influenced me to be a teacher. The dozens of students who serve alumni each summer.”

“That’s really sad,” the man had said. It is. . .some days–as least as he meant it, but here’s what I wished I had said to that:  “Nope, not today.”

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“I thank my God on my every remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5

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