At the Takeout we are circled up, my sweaty shoulders draped by the arms of other men. Heads bowed, quiet, humbled by life’s hardships. One by one we say a short prayer, some subtle and some proud, but all invoking His grace on us at this time together. Most of us really need it.
These men have lost everything to addiction. Many have come in off the street, grizzled and tattooed, hard men having lived hard lives. But they are here, at Rebound, with hope of turning things around. They have committed themselves to a rigorous, faith-based, twelve step program that is their last, best chance to claw back physical health and self respect. When F3 joins them on Saturday mornings we bear witness to what they are doing. We stomp and grunt and laugh alongside them, and help to provide just one more backstop to keep a fellow from sliding back into that bad, dark place. Because we can be men together, cursing our failing and weakness, (maybe even poking our Q!), but standing shoulder to shoulder nonetheless. Because ‘the last shall be first…’
We have nothing in common. I am wealthy; he is poor. My face is smooth; his is scarred by fists from the street. I drove myself here; he asked permission to step out of the dorm. But we’ve everything in common: scattered children, angry wives, an addiction we won’t admit. We are all sons of men we fought with, and fathers to children we have disappointed. Right now we are tired and our bodies ache, and we’ve the man-sweat and grey whiskers of passed youth. And maybe some measure of passed happiness too.
During my week I post all around F3 Metro, where it’s “you against you” as we say, striving to run a little faster or keep up with the other pax. It feeds my competitive spirit and I love the camaraderie among those doctors, lawyers and lions of finance. What an extraordinary thing that I can test myself against my friends, and they against me. Note, though, that it’s about “I” and “my”.
Saturday workouts at Rebound are different. When those men check out of the dorm and come into the sunshine to join us for side-straddle-hops, it’s about them. This is less “Iron Sharpens Iron”, and more about “No Man Left Behind”. We F3 regulars have come to serve, not be served, and the rewards for us are very, very high. The more we engage with them, coach them and run alongside them, the richer it is. We get to come here and do this and be a small, positive part in a man’s bounce-back after hitting the very lowest point in his life.
COT and the small prayers continue. Heads bowed on that hallowed patch of asphalt, we make a shared call for His compassion. Here, we are all common men.
Join F3’s workout at the Charlotte Rescue Mission
Saturdays at 9AM, at 907 West 1stStreet, Charlotte, NC