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Who is in your Gentlemen's Lounge?

My wife and I watch this show called Ready to Love that's on the own network and it's a show. It's a reality game show. I wouldn't even call it a game. So it's a reality show where the host tries to match up single individuals over the course of several weeks. And over the course of time, individuals get eliminated.

If they're determined or it's been determined that they are not ready to love based upon their behavior, and based upon feedback from a lot of the other participants on the show, and every week, the host of the show will meet separately with the men and the women for them to discuss the progress they made during that week. Who they went out on dates with and what their impressions of those individuals were. And when he meets with the men, he calls it the Gentlemen's Lounge and the men that are there they'll talk about the ladies that they went on out on dates, with who they have a connection with, or they don't have a connection with. And why.

And usually at the end of these gentlemen lounge sessions, they'll decide upon one or two ladies that they've determined are not ready to love and hence forth their journey in this competition, or this show, will end. And the ladies do something similar in the, in the ladies lounge.

Well, one of the episodes in the gentleman's lounge, the conversation veered away from discussing the ladies that they'd gone out with and who's ready and who's not. And one of the guys took some time to give some kudos and show some appreciation for one of the other brothers. Now, these guys, when they come on the show, they don't really know each other yet. They're all in the same city, but they don't know each other.

So they develop friendships. They've developed relationships during their time there. And one of the guys spoke kindly and gave a lot of kudos for one of the other brothers who helped him move.

He said, "Listen, I called this brother up and he was right there. He was ready to work. He helped me move from point a to point B. He showed up in the clutch man. This brother's A-1, he's a good dude." And you know, the other guys chimed in as well to say "Yeah, he's a solid cat. He;s a good dude. I really enjoyed this brother." And it got teary-eyed. Guys started tearing up a little bit.

One of the things that was said in there is as men there isn't a whole lot of bonding or sharing or appreciation shown to black men in a lot of cases. Certainly society has not done a very good job of demonstrating that appreciation, even within black community there may also not have been a lot of appreciation shown for black men. So in that moment to hear not just one brother say to another brother, "Hey you a solid dude. I really appreciate it. What you did was incredible. Thank you so much" brought a lot of the guys to tears.

One of the guys even said that he didn't grow up hearing or hearing expressions of appreciation. Of being thanked or being told whether or not he was good, bad or indifferent, or not being told that he was doing something well. So it was really powerful that moment. And it went to show how important it is to have a tribe of men or men who can gather around you. Men that you can talk to. Men that you can share with. Men that you can be vulnerable with because it helps to strengthen the other brothers around as iron sharpens iron.

This also reminds me of a men's event that we had at my church a couple of weeks ago, as of this recording it's July, 2021. So this happened around Father's day of June, 2021. And it had been awhile since the men had had a chance to gather. Obviously we didn't have a chance to do this in June of 2020. Every June we call that Men's Month. We have Men's Emphasis Monty where we try to do things to emphasize the men in the church and do things that center around brotherhood and manhood and how to be a better man, how to be a better Christian man, how to be a Christian Black man, particularly in this world that we're in.

So it'd been awhile since we had a chance to physically gather, and we gathered at a park that's local to us and about roughly 15, maybe 20 brothers showed up.

We called it our Lunch, Laugh and Level Up events where everyone brought their own food and , lawn chair, and we had a chance to break bread. And there was some laughter as you sort of start to get some of the pleasantries out of way, how's everything, how's it going ...a lot of ribbing of one another.

But then the dust settled and we got into some discussions and I was asked to be the moderator of the discussion. So I asked some questions to inspire some conversation and get people talking and get them sharing and get them being open. And it took a second. As guys, as men, we don't open up immediately on a lot of things. So it takes a second for us to be transparent and vulnerable. But once we did, towards the tail end of the outing, it really got good. It got intense. It got real. T

he kinds of things that the men shared with one another, the testimonies that came out of that, and we all walked away stronger. We all acknowledged that this kind of setting where men talk and where a man can share and where men can be vulnerable and transparent doesn't happen often and it needs to happen more.

That was one of the big takeaways that we ultimately wanted to have the men walk away from this event is that you can find support through and with other men that. There's no need to go through any journey alone. That certainly they're going to be certain things that another brother's going to have to hold you up on. That you're going to need some help. And it's good to be surrounded with men that can support you in that regard.

So when it comes to planning your success for the second half of life, sometimes even before you decide upon what you want to be successful at in the second half, where do you want to go? What specific goals? The bigger question may be who are you surrounding yourself with? Who is going to be in your gentleman's lounge, that you can kick it with, that you can chop it up with on a surface level? And then once some of those layers get peeled back, once the dust settles on some of the pleasantries and some of the ha-ha's and he-he's, you guys can actually start to talk about real things, real issues, real challenges, share one another struggles.

One of the things that came out of the men's event was how similar some of the stories were. How similar some of the challenges had been. Maybe everyone wasn't going through that at that time but everyone could identify at a time in their life where they felt like that or when they went through something like that. And it was good to hear that because you know you're not alone and it's helpful to know that others have been there or going through it with you and you guys can support one another ,walk with one another bear, one another's weight. It's makes the ultimate burden lighter across the board.

So the question and the opportunity for you to examine at this point in the stage in your life...and probably you've already got some people that you hang out with. You have some friends, you have some colleagues, some comrades, some brothers in Christ, or just brothers that you grew up with, whoever.

But the question is as, are you intentional about being in the presence of these guys? And are you intentional about engaging in these kinds of conversations? And maybe it happens in a lounge like setting. Obviously we are, as of this recording, still dealing with some COVID-19 protocol issues.

So whether or not that can happen physically, certainly things are certainly opening up here in the states while I'm recording this. So it can be, it can happen outside. It doesn't have to, it can happen virtually. I'm part of a men's group with my church. And we meet virtually and have met virtually for quite a while, at least once a month and we chop it up and we discuss some things and everyone has a chance to let everyone else know what's going on in their lives. And that's a good thing.

So the opportunity, and what I would challenge you to do is who's going to be in your gentleman's lounge? Who are the individuals that you want to have in your lounge? Having men around in the same situation or similar situation? Men, that you can look up to. Men that you can walk beside, and maybe even some that you can lead.

That would be a good thing as you're plotting the second half of your life. That's one of the areas where, by and large, we want to have success is in the relationships that we have with people that are most important in our lives. Who we surround ourselves with can, more so than anything else, determine how successful we're going to be at the "whats" in our lives. When we get the "who's" in our life, right? The "whats" can sometimes almost take care of themselves.

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