All posts by Mike

Humpty Dumpty: Picking Up The Pieces

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We’re probably all familiar with the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, the egg-man who falls from a wall. As children, we learned some important lessons from Humpty. We learned about the dangers associated with heights. We also learned that eggs are fragile objects that can be safely dropped from heights during science class given the right resources (e.g. cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks, and packing peanuts). But, in adulthood, I’ve learned more lessons from Humpty. In case it’s been a while since you recited this little rhyme, here it is:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together, again.

Let’s break this down and track down some of the adult lessons that can be found within. There are only four lines, so this shouldn’t take long…right?

Continue reading…

Happy Birthday…from Facebook

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It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything. Life is hard, and we’ve been focusing on other things lately (like, since Christmas-ish). I’ve been focused on my marriage. Chris has been job-hunting/starting a new job. And Brian has up and moved to be a part of Desire Church down in Pembroke Pines, FL. I’ll forego reintroducing why Mannerd exists, and just get right back into doing what we are here to do.

I recently celebrated a birthday, and have now accumulated as many years as Baskin-Robbins has flavors. While birthdays as an adult don’t have the same level of excitement associated with them as they do for kids, it’s always nice to get together with (or at least hear from) new and old friends. Then there’s that other kind of friend: the Facebook Friend. I think we can all agree on the definition of the Facebook Friend. These are the people with whom we are barely, if even, acquainted. Sometimes, it’s an even lesser degree of connection. Maybe they’re just the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. Yet, because we accepted that friend request years ago, we’re now given the opportunity once a year to acknowledge the day they “burst forth from their mother’s loins”1 based on nothing more than a little red notification badge.

This year, I conducted a bit of a social experiment. A few days beforehand, I made my birthday private on Facebook. There would be no little red badge to notify everyone on my friends list of my further passage through the sands of time. The results were quite conclusive. I did not receive one single “Happy Birthday” on Facebook. These results perfectly mirrored my hypothesis. This might sound depressing and, in a way, I suppose it is. Without the reminder from Facebook, most of my friends, acquaintances, and even family members don’t know when my birthday is. I did get a handful of well-wishes, and because I knew they were more than a response to a notification badge, they meant a little more to me. Continue reading…

A Simple Thank You

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Thanksgiving is just a couple days away. For many of us, this means traveling, family drama, overeating, and football. For some of us though, it means a weekend of loneliness. Some of you may not be able to afford the time off from work, or you don’t get holidays off. Some of you may be unencumbered by work, but are unable to afford the airfare or gasoline required to visit distant family. Some may have recently lost a loved one, so there’s going to be an eerily empty seat, and unfilled pauses in conversation this year. Others may not have family that accepts them as they are. This, combined with the upcoming season of hectic gift buying and other social expectations can easily become overwhelming.

We want to remind you that a simple thank you can go a long way toward making a friend, who may be dealing with feeling lonely and overwhelmed this holiday season, feel loved and cared for. Taking the time to remind a friend of why you are thankful for their role in your life in a personal way is a great way to reach out to them. I’m not talking about a group text message or email. Find the time to pull them aside or take them to coffee. Sit down and write them a letter. At the very least, give them a personal phone call, and spend some uninterrupted time telling them what they’ve meant to you over the last year. If you’ll be staying home for the holidays, maybe you could invite a friend who you know won’t be with family. There’s always plenty of food, anyway. Make an extra effort to make them feel at home. You may be the one person who reaches out to them, and that can make a huge difference in their outlook toward this season.

Punctuality: Why Time Matters

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Imagine a friend who always finds himself apologizing for arriving awkwardly late to scheduled events. Maybe you don’t have to imagine this scenario, because the person described is one of your friends. Maybe you’re thinking, “It doesn’t happen that often…” In that case, maybe you’re the friend who others mumble about while they look at their watch wondering why you aren’t there yet…again.

Much like money, the use of time requires discipline to avoid mismanagement. In all of our lives, time is a finite commodity. We’ve probably all heard someone say, “You can always earn more money.” However, time is non-regenerative. Unused time doesn’t roll over to the next day. We can’t earn more time. Unlike money, we can’t save up an account full of time to be spent on days where we come up a bit short. Our own time needs to be managed well, and the time of others should be respected. When we mismanage our time we send clear signals to others, especially those close to us. Continue reading…

Practical Burden Bearing Pt:2

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We recently discussed practical ways that we could help bear the burden of dealing with online pornography for a friend struggling in that area. In this post, we are going to flesh out some ways that men struggle in the area of money management. We all deal with money, at least in our personal lives. Some of us even get paid to manage other people’s money. Much of what we know about money management comes from our upbringing. For instance, if you were raised in a home where flagrant mismanagement was the norm and impulsivity ruled, you may find yourself following along that same path. Or, your parent(s) may not have taught you much about how to manage money, so your concept is, “As long as the balance is in the black, there’s nothing to worry about.” Whatever part of your money management skills can be attributed or blamed on your upbringing, there comes a time when you have to take responsibility for the way you choose to manage the money that flows through your hands.

For me this time of reckoning came when the water got shut off at my house. I still want to deny a percentage of responsibility, but it did happen on my watch. It was at a time when my wife and I were still paying bills based on the current checking account balance. The water bill came in the mail, and I contend my wife brought it in from the mailbox and opened it. By my logic, when she opened the bill she assumed responsibility for paying it. She was blissfully unaware of this understanding. Days went by, and the bill re-surfaced on the kitchen counter. I realized it didn’t have a “PAID” stamp on its face. The due date was the day it re-surfaced, and so I logged into the online system and paid it. Problem solved, right? Wrong. A few days later, I learned that the online payment system is not instantaneous, but takes a few days to process. When weekends and holidays are involved, it can take even longer. I learned this when I woke up and tried to quench my sleep induced thirst with a glass of water, and was greeted by the sound of silence coming from the tap. In disbelief, I went and asked my neighbor if their water was working, because it must have been a problem with the water line. His water water flowing just fine. I called the water company and asked about the outage. They kindly informed me that when they weren’t paid for the service they provide, they turned off that service. I was forced to admit that my “system” for managing bill payments wasn’t working. With that, my desire to get a handle on our finances was ignited and I decided to do something about it. Continue reading…

Practical Burden Bearing Pt:1

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We encouraged taking an active role in bearing the burdens of our close friends. Sometimes putting that into practice can be a bit daunting. What can you actually do to benefit your friend? Through the conversations you’ve been having with your friends, you should be picking up on what they struggle with on a regular basis, as well as learning which issues they may need a hand in combating. If you aren’t getting this information, maybe you need to work on getting past the surface level small talk and into the weighty issues of life in your conversations. Is it uncomfortable at first? Yes. Has talking about the weather and sports teams ever truly deepened a relationship? No. Once you’ve established a pattern with your friend of honestly discussing your struggles, it quickly becomes an environment of safety and acceptance. This safe and trusting environment is paramount to your becoming an active player in the life of your friend. None of us wants to even listen to, let alone heed, advice from a stranger. That makes sense, and it’s why we’re all a bit leery of a man in a windowless white van giving away puppies. It would be unwise to allow someone with no knowledge of your station in life, and no commitment to your well-being, to speak into your life with any substantive authority. However, once that hard-gained level of trust is established, steps of action are warranted.

Asking, “What can I do to help you?” may seem like the polite way to interject yourself into another man’s life. However, this man isn’t a stranger, and the reason for your interjection is to relieve him of some burden. Instead, make an offer: “After thinking through our past conversations and what we each struggle with, I’ve given this considerable thought and here’s what I’d like to do for you.” In doing this, you are bearing the weight of the burden, instead of asking your friend to do the leg work and ask you for help. All you’ve left on the table for them to deal with is whether or not they want to accept your offer. It’s a yes or no question. Do your “homework” on your friend’s needs, then jump in and get your hands dirty.

One of the most common things men struggle with is sex (with an emphasis on pornography). Today, let’s go over a concrete example of a way we can reach out to friends who struggle with the issue of pornography. Continue reading…

Hearing Versus Bearing Burdens

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Imagine a man walking down a dirt road. On his shoulders he carries two, obviously heavy, burlap sacks. His gait is slow, and you can see him wince with each step. Every few yards he has to jostle one or both of the sacks back into place on his shoulders to keep from dropping them. Yet, he trudges on. Another man approaches the first and walks alongside him. You can hear their conversation as the unladen man asks what is in the sacks.

The weary man replies, “Oh, just some stuff I have to carry. Nothing you should be overly concerned about.”

“They look quite heavy, I hope you don’t have to travel too awfully far with them,” says the second man. “I can only imagine what you’ve got in them.”

The first man pauses a moment, takes a few more steps, then speaks, “I’m ashamed of what I carry, sir. These sacks contain the last of a poor harvest. Much of my crop went to waste this year, because I spent much of the season too drunk to work my land. I’ve let my wife do much of the work, and my children have been ridiculed because of their father’s mistakes. I’ve promised my wife I’ll change my ways more times than I can count, but I always end up breaking my promises. Today marks a week I’ve been sober, and if I can get these sacks to the market before it closes today, I may be able to earn enough to buy my kids the supplies they need to start back to school without the sideways looks from other kids. I’m quite sure my wife has given up on me, but my kids somehow still look up to me.”

The second man shakes his head, and quickly sets about responding to the plight of the first man. “I’m sure you’re wife hasn’t given up on you for good. You just need to earn her trust back. We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t make us bad people, overall. Just keep heading down the path you’ve been on this past week, taking it one step…one day at a time. You’ll get there, and I wish you the best of luck on getting to the market in time.”

And, with that, the second man picks up his pace and soon leaves the burdened man far behind. The burden has been shared audibly by the first man, and it’s even been heard by the second. However, I think we can all agree that the burden has certainly not been borne in partnership by the two men. The mentality we want to instill is one of action, not one of passivity. Passivity in men pervades our culture. While it feels good to listen to another man’s problems, it doesn’t do much for the man with the problems.

We don’t want to insinuate that you should take on all of your friend’s problems (e.g. they over-borrowed for a car, and you pay off their car note). We do want to encourage men taking an active role in supporting their friend. In the story told above, the initially unburdened man could have taken an active role by offering to carry one of the sacks while talking to the burdened man about what he was carrying. That’s all well and good, but Mannerd isn’t about achieving minimal goals. We’re here to go beyond what “gets us off the hook.” Imagine the unburdened man took on one of the sacks, learned about what was going on in the burdened man’s life, and then jumped in the trenches of life with him. He could offer to have the man and his wife over to join he and his family for dinner, allowing them to enjoy an effortless evening of fellowship and conversation. He could labor in the fields with the burdened man to help him prepare his fields for the next season.

Without inconvenience and sacrifice, it’s difficult to claim we are truly invested in our friends. What are some ways that you can go beyond the minimum, and SACK UP to help your burdened friends?

 

A Personal Invitation

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Intentionality is foundational when cultivating strong male friendships. We probably all know what it feels like to run into a friend while out and about, only to end a short conversation with, “Well, it was good to see you. We should get together, soon.” Both parties know that really means nothing. It’s a nicety we tack on so we don’t have to admit the truth. Sadly, that truth usually sounds something like, “I really don’t value you enough to re-prioritize things in my life to accommodate a deeper relationship with you.” Many of us are busy, but how often are we “busy” due to our own lack of planning or failure to prioritize what we would say we truly value in life? You may find yourself thinking that the idea of investing in close friendships is intriguing, but you just don’t see how you can fit it into your schedule. If that’s the case, I’d challenge how much you truly value the idea.

You may already have a friend in whom you’d like to invest more deeply. If so, here’s a challenge for you. Instead of sharing a link to this site, or contacting them by email/tweet/text/snap/yo/insert-tech-du-jour-here…write them a letter. Issue them a personal invitation from you to join this meandering journey toward deep, healthy, growth-inducing friendship.

There are a few things you’ll need to make this happen, and in this day and age, you may have forgotten what some of them are. So, let’s review what you’ll need:

  • A friend. I don’t say this sarcastically. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and you have tons of friends. But, we’re not looking for buddies to share secret handshakes with. We’re looking for one, maybe two close friends who you trust and are eager to invest heavily in their lives. That may mean some people get “left out.” That’s acceptable. Committing to more relationships than you can realistically maintain does a disservice to all of them. Choose carefully, and know the reasons for your choice.
  • An address. You may already know your friend’s mailing address, but it’s more likely that you don’t. If you don’t know their address, you don’t have to ask them for it directly. I’ll go so far as to recommend driving to their place and writing it down. Use the drive as a time to begin mentally composing your words to your friend. You can also use other resources to ferret out the numbers and letters you need. If you absolutely must ask them for it, DO NOT do it via any digital method. We are trying to foster real relationships. Open up your big boy mouth, and talk to your friend face to face.
  • A medium. No, not a Miss Cleo-esque bayou psychic, but a tangible means to convey your words in written form. Remember, we are being intentional, so don’t just grab a sheet of printer paper and a Bic rollerball. It doesn’t have to be monogrammed, but more power to you if you want to invest in (or design) some personalized stationery. I’ve come to enjoy writing with a cheap fountain pen, as using it correctly forces me to slow down and focus on my writing.
  • A message. This is not a generic, “Hey, how are ya?”, kind of message. This is an intimate (just go ahead and get used to me using the word intimate) invitation to a friend in whom you want to deeply invest. This is why I suggested mentally composing it before you ever sit down to write. Convey your reasons for choosing them, and ask them to be willing to join you on a journey that will change how both of you view your friendship. This is personal. If you write something like a Hallmark card that could be sent to anyone, you’ve missed the point.

Make sure you remember how to address an envelope before you mail your letter. Put your return address in the upper left corner, so they know where to send a response if they choose to respond in kind. Buy some postage stamps that fit your personality, you know, like your grandpa did. DO NOT spritz your letter with cologne before sealing it. That is a subtle trick to woo women, and should not be used on your friend.

Once you’ve posted your letter, wait for a response. You may receive a response in any number of ways. Whatever method your friend chooses, try to acknowledge their reply either face to face or with a phone call. Verbal exchanges are very important to the foundation we are building.

An Introduction

Two friends meet in a small pub. It’s the kind of place that could easily have a wooden sign hanging over the door, creaking in the wind. Far too much time passes between their meetings, and they realize their relationship is weakened because of the busyness that has crept into their lives. As the pints are nursed, they discuss the happenings in each of their lives: the successes, the failures, the unspeakable deeds. Close friends, such as these, can share their highest moments, their deepest depressions, and their darkest desires without fear of punishment or abandonment. This is because it is not a confession of wrongs to an arbiter of Justice and Judgement, but rather a revealing of weaknesses and wounds to a physician of Healing and Sympathy.

This is an illustration of the male friendship that seems to have gone missing in our present culture. Men hide behind how many heavy things they can pick up, how well “their” team is doing this season, or how well they can keep up with the latest trends in technology/finance/realty. Men hide because we are afraid we are alone. Read that again. We HIDE because we are afraid we are ALONE. This is insanity. This is illogical. But, this is real and it is devastating to all of our relationships.

Mannerd aims to inspire the close male friendships that all men desperately need. The benefit of realizing we aren’t alone is huge. When we feel alone, it is far too easy to sink deeper and deeper into our own darkness, because we have no light shining in from an outside source. A close friend is like sunlight flooding into the dank, dark, musty cellar that you have called home for so long. Initially, your eyes hurt and you recoil from the brightness. But, as you become accustomed to the brightness, you begin to embrace the warmth and the sunlight begins to dry up the dampness.

We want to address ways that men can revive this intimacy through both conversational and activity based interactions. We also plan to address how the relationships we cultivate with one another can affect others we encounter on a daily basis.