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Two Aces, Two Strikes

Dianne and I were going out for the evening. While she applied her finishing touches I sat down in the den with the flipper to see what the TV had to offer. We do not have cable so I only had twenty-three channels to choose from, but I settled in rather contentedly on a "Gunsmoke" rerun.

Since I tuned in forty minutes late, I have no idea what the predicament was Matt, Doc, Festus, Miss Kitty, and Newly were working their way through in between commercials. Whatever it was, it called for Miss Kitty to have a high-stakes poker game going in the Long Branch with some hapless bad guys and their boss-with-all-the-brains. They were killing time, waiting for the Marshall to walk into their insidious trap about ten minutes before the top of the hour. In the meantime, Miss Kitty was cleaning them out—and psyching them out—at the poker table with marked cards and two aces up her sleeve.

I hate to tell you this, but Dianne appeared looking great about a quarter to the hour and as a result I cannot tell you whether Matt is OK or not. I clicked the power button on the flipper and left with my woman for a night out on the town. But, I have been thinking about those two aces Miss Kitty had up her sleeve.

I realize this was just a "Gunsmoke" rerun, but whether it is Miss Kitty playing high-stakes poker on TV or real interpersonal relationships, have you ever noticed how women tend to have two aces up their sleeve? As a matter of fact, in a little girl’s quest to become feminine, it is like she has this two-ace advantage almost from the delivery room. She is verbal and she is intuitive, and in interpersonal relationships, these two aces stand her in better stead than a man’s ability to fold up a road map correctly.

Rather quickly, a little lady will conclude mom is the appropriate role model to help her become feminine and enter the world of womanhood. And she and her mom talk. They fill the air with words, words, and more words. If words made you wealthy, most women would be gozillionairs. They talk about everything.

Women communicate constantly, and not just with words. Women touch and hug, cry together, and hold hands. But that is not all, they even communicate via the air or the water or something. It’s what the dictionary calls intuition. They can say the wrong thing, or say nothing at all, and still be on the same wavelength.

On the Fourth of July Dianne and I always go with our friend, Dorothy, to the fireworks display over the Trinity River in Fort Worth. Dorothy is a ball to be with and from year-to-year I remember more about the time with Dorothy and Dianne than I do about the fireworks. We take wieners, soft drinks, chips, and chocolate chip cookies–all the traditional Independence Day fare. We drive to the Tandy Center parking lot by the river, set our lawn chairs up in the back of the pickup truck and settle in for the celebration along with the rest of Fort Worth and America.

Last year, as I was driving toward the river, we were all three scrunched into the front seat of the truck and Dorothy and Dianne were talking about a shop where one of their mutual friends had found some cute clothes. Well, they talked and they talked and they talked. And they sited landmarks and intersections trying to be sure they had the same shop in mind. I happened to know where the shop was because it is two doors down from "World of Blades." As I listened to their directions, Dianne’s locators were ten or twelve blocks north of the shop and Dorothy’s were six or eight to the east when they announced, almost in unison, "Oh yes! I know where that is. I’ve been there. They have the cutest shorts outfits this time of year."

I couldn’t stand it. I interrupted their discussion and said, "Wait a minute. How do you know you’ve been there? You are sixteen blocks apart."

But somehow they knew—and they were talking about the same shop. That’s intuition. When a lady says, "I don’t know how I know, I just know," that is intuition, and she is usually right. Women have this intuitive ace that enables them to stay in the relationship game. When words fail them, intuition kicks in and they go right on communicating.

It is without a doubt a difficult trip for a little girl to navigate through girlhood and arrive safely at womanhood, but she has a verbal ace and an intuitive ace that she can play as needed. She and her mom—and the other women around her—talk. And when words fail them, they communicate intuitively.

On the other hand, when a boy shows up on the planet, he has two strikes against him. He is neither verbal nor intuitive—and neither are his dad or his dad’s friends. Even a cursory evaluation of boys and girls will reveal that girls talk while boys make noises.

For all of the verbiage exchanged between a mother and a daughter, as a general rule there is precious little verbal exchange by comparison between a boy and his father. While the boy is busy emulating the noises of guns, planes, cars, and automobiles, the dad is busy answering questions with grunts, hums, and nods. When boys and men do communicate verbally, it is often instructive, punctuated with short, sometimes terse, sentences

When left to fill in the verbal gaps, a typical boy does not have the advantage of intuition. Masculine understanding is usually systematic, logical, and precise. It is not that a man is incapable of understanding subtleties or implications, but in a conversation like Dianne and Dorothy were having about directions to the dress shop, a man will most likely be lost by about sixteen blocks.

Moving from boyhood to manhood is a tedious and fragile task. While little girls approach their journey with two effective, navigational aids, boys start from an inherent deficit. For little girls, they begin from a position of strength, but boys start from a place of weakness. Certainly girls are dependent upon their mothers and other influential females in their quest to become feminine, but if they miss something in the process, they have their intuitive abilities to fall back on. On the other hand, boys are heavily dependent upon their fathers and influential men to demonstrate masculinity for them as they move from boyhood toward manhood. If this process is interrupted through the father’s absence, divorce, indifference, passivity, or anything else that separates him from the boy, the boy will flounder and the unanswered questions pertaining to manhood will begin to haunt him. There is no substitute for the presence of an influential man in the life of a boy. If left to himself, a boy will grow to look like a man, but if he is to truly understand manhood, he must have the consistent influence of a real man in his life.

The passage from boyhood to manhood is one that begins in weakness and progresses only through dependence. Believe it or not, in that statement resides the great secret of a man’s strength. In those seventeen words is the answer to, "What is a real man?"

As a boy traverses toward manhood he is dependent upon his father to demonstrate masculinity and eventually welcome him into the world of manhood. If this occurs as God intends, the boy will probably be hard-pressed to articulate what has occurred or how he got where he was going—we’re back to grappling with the two strikes he showed up with—but he will exemplify masculinity and the strength of a man.

But even more profound, the boy will have an internalized, demonstrated understanding of how to depend upon his Heavenly Father. He will have learned this all of his boyhood life by being dependent upon his dad and watching how his dad depended upon his Heavenly Father.

It is the divine plan: Through weakness and dependence God’s strength is demonstrated in men. We said earlier one of the first things most folks think of when they think of a man is strength. Herein is the source of a man’s great strength.

It has nothing to do with physical strength, sexual prowess, or accolades and accomplishments. Strength is demonstrated through a man’s determination to live now the way he was taught to progress from boyhood to manhood: by depending upon his father, his Heavenly Father.

Preston Gillham

About the Author

As a co-founder, Preston Gillham led Lifetime for 30 years. Preston is a writer, speaker, and leadership guide. He has authored numerous articles and several books including No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower. He blogs on “Life and Leadership”. More about Preston, his writings, speaking, and his consulting practice can be located at PrestonGillham.com.