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Fully Man | Derek Drake: Man Enough

Redding, CA, USA

Above: Derek, his wife, and their two little chickadees! I am so excited to introduce to you Derek Drake, who I have known to be a very talented, inspiring, and authentic friend and co-worker. It is a marvel to know him and the ways in which he makes space for people to be completely who God created them to be. Derek is originally from Arizona, but moved to Redding, California, in 2019. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Studies, and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Psychology. I am so grateful that I get to share Derek's story as he answers the question when was the moment you realized you were becoming a man.

I am excited to share a little bit about a process that will impact and change your life as you continue on in this journey called manhood. Being a father of two kids, I want to share a little bit of my personal journey and speak into your life. There is a need for fathers to truly speak real and true identity into their sons and daughters. As a father, I hope to share something that will resonate as truth to you.

So, manhood. I actually have hated this word for a long time because to me this word meant rejection, inadequacy, inferiority, and weakness. Those were the lenses in which I saw myself when it came to talking about manhood. By nature, I am a very creative and sensitive man and these character traits go against what the world says is "manly." So the first point, real manhood actually looks like embracing all the unique things about your personality, appearance, and character. The world and even other people will try to say you must look strong, deny emotions, work with your hands, play sports, remain hard-hearted, and dominate in social environments. This could not be further from the truth. There is a world that needs the real you to show up. There are sons and daughters actually looking for men who will make space for others to show up authentically and it starts with you. This truth has taken me several years to embrace, but having really great friends in my life who see and know me have helped me understand this, in addition to, the relationship I have cultivated with the best Father in the entire world: God. 

It does not matter whether you identify with being some rough, rugged, outdoorsy man, or a tender-hearted creative. What matters MOST is that you show up as you in every environment. For example, for me, it meant that I had to embrace the fact that I am not a sports guy, so I did not try to make myself become that, but I embraced the parts of me that allowed me to come alive. Secondly, real manhood looks like processing through trauma and pain to find healing and become a whole man in Christ. You are not exempt from experiencing pain and going through hard things. The reality is, you have probably already experienced some pain and trauma. The world and others will tell you to white-knuckle it, keep going, or ignore it, but this will actually cause an infection that will also infect many of the people around you, even those you really love. It does not matter what you have experienced or gone through, it does not change the fact that you are still beautifully and wonderfully made. 

I was sexually abused as a child and also grew up around physical and emotional abuse between my parents. This pain and trauma had spent years telling how unfit for manhood and life I was. Shame was my best friend. I kept all the pain inside and pretended it was not there, but watched it rot inside of me in plain sight. This pain and trauma caused so much anger, confusion, self-hatred, and a lack for zeal for life in general. The most manly thing I ever did was go though counseling, share my story, and let people love me through this pain. You can do it too! You are not a victim to your past, struggles, or trauma. You will be able to overcome it because there is a King, Friend, Son, Savior, and Love who overcame everything just to be with you. 

Lastly, real manhood looks like loving people well and letting others love you. Typically amongst men, love seems to be a mystery and some facet of life that is confused with merely sexual encounters and multiple relationships. Ultimately, this type of living will continue to leave you empty. This is not God's design for your life for cultivating relationships, no matter how many people encourage or affirm your sexual experiences. You will one day find a spouse whom you will treasure far beyond their physical beauty and this aspect of intimacy will continue on in your marriage until death. 

Real friendship in your life will be marked by the way in which you are known by others and seek to know them. The conversations you have with your community of friends will need to extend beyond the surface level of sports talk, the weather, or all of your personal accomplishments (although those are important and should be celebrated). Real manhood will invite you to be courageous, vulnerable, and transparent in your conversations with others. This will mean that the walls and barriers will have to come down. This means that your heart will be on display. Scary? I know right! But, you will find that being known and knowing others is one of the most liberating feelings you will experience. 

Now, I know that this sounds like a lot. This may even sound impossible or extremely foreign to you, but let me encourage you. One of my greatest joys of being a father has always been watching my kids learn something new. I think about them taking their first step, learning to feed themselves, learning to use the potty, saying their first word, or simply tying their shoes. They did not automatically know how to do these things, they had to try everyday and they relied heavily on my love and support to guide them. They did not give up because they saw how confident and affirming I was of them throughout the process. They DID get frustrated and cry or get angry in the process, which even then, I acknowledged. But, when they finally got the hang of it, the excitement and confidence it gave them was a feeling that outweighed how difficult it was in the beginning. It meant they were growing and, as a father, I was so proud to see and be with them throughout the process. 

Our Father feels this exact way about us x10000000000000000. He is calling us to be the men that He created us to be everyday. He sticks around for the process and celebrates every little and big victory. Take heart, God's got this and you are man enough! 

Love you!

Derek currently does not have any social media, but you can find him on LinkedIn. He also is a vocal coach of his very own business called DrakeVoice, which you can check out here. Derek also self-published a devotional for sale on Amazon called Rooted: Growing in God's Word Through Hardship, which you can buy here. If you'd like to send Derek an encouraging word, please comment on this post or send him a private message on his LinkedIn account.


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