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19 August/Posted by aaronplaat

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Since the past few blogs I’ve written have been a bit different than my usual ramblings, I thought it would make sense to write a short bit about something that’s been on my mind. One of the 22.

In the bible, there was a story about two lifelong friends, David and Jonathan. In the purest sense of the word, these two were as close as brothers ought to be. There wasn’t a battle or fight these two didn’t tackle together. It goes on to state the following, which was written at the passing of Jonathan:

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions… How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me….How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!

Talk about true brotherhood.

In society, it’s not common to see men sharing such a strong bond without connotations of a homosexual relationship. I think it’s a bit sad that we’ve restricted the type of friendship we, as men, are expected to have with other men due to jabs and jeers that a loving friendship must delve into the romantic.

I can’t imagine the wife of a man would prefer for her husbands friends to be drunken fools, incapable of sharing a meaningful conversation or having strong bonds of trust with each other. However, we see this all the time within male friendships; being restricted to drinking buddies or workout partners.

It’s very difficult to confine bad behavior to just one person. E.g. if a man isn’t comfortable being an honest and honorable friend to his fellow brothers/friends, due to fear of societal views, it seems only natural that the love he ought to have for his wife, untapped and limitless, would also be hampered by fear and self-imposed restrictions.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have excellent male friends in my life that have built me up, encouraged me, and weren’t afraid to step outside of their comfort zones to call me out in situations where I had erred or was in need of loving correction. There was a situation in LA where my friend, Travis T., confronted me about the way I had spoken to a gym employee.

“Aaron, I’m just going to put this out there and say it. What you did in there wasn’t cool. As men of character/integrity, we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard than losing our temper and speaking to people the way you did.”

That comment has stuck with me for several years. As long as I’ve known Travis, we’ve always held each other to a higher standard than the one we set out the day before. Constant growth, improvement, and personal betterment.

It was a really special bond that I shared with my brother, Mark, and Travis during college. The three of us were true brothers at heart and tackled on a lot of significant life choices as we neared graduation. Travis went on to be accepted into the Columbus Police Academy – a goal of his since childhood – and Mark joined the Navy, eventually being awarded as the top recruit of his class of over 5,000; the Military Excellence Award. I went off to LA.

At the time, the three of us grew in our mind, body, and spirit. No matter what we set our minds to, we hit the task with full force and dedication. I’ve never had better workout partners who pushed me beyond the limits I thought possible. My first bench press of 315lb; after one failed attempt, I sat forward on the bench, cranked Chimaira’s “Pleasure in pain” and hit 315 perfectly. We were there to watch as Mark leg-pressed 1,500 pounds of steel. It was glory.

Brothers are also there to catch you when you fall. During the winter, Mark and I trained for our first MMA fight. For months, we endured brutal workouts and the sight of our own blood as we were, quite literally, beat into shape. When my fighter failed to show, it was only Mark who would step into the ring that night. Travis and I walked him up to the ring as Project 86 “My Will Be a Dead Man” pumped through the venue. Three hearts sank as we watched Mark fall to the mat, beaten by the would-be Ohio champion for his weight class.

There’s a saying that a man’s true armor is those to the left and the right of him. I agree.

When I get married, I’ve decided a long time ago that there will not be a ‘best man’ but the ‘best men’ at my side who have personally helped shape and chisel me into the man who is ready to offer himself, completely, to the beautiful bride standing next to him.

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