Hooch Family Photo

Nine men in a circle before sunup on a Monday morning. I’m in the middle. All heads bowed. Each man has a hand on my shoulder. Praying. For me. And for my family.

Two years ago, I had nothing like this. Sure, we go to church. I have a loving family at home and loving relatives and friends, too. But I didn’t have a circle of real men whom I see regularly, whom are safe to share real life with, and whom I can count on to give me courage and hope. My crew took a hard hit last week. Confusion and grief were at the forefront, and we are really leaning hard on the mercy and grace of God. But you know when you actually FEEL the grace of God? It’s when He puts flesh and bones around his grace and sends an actual human being into your life to impart that grace to you.

I work out several times a week with real men. They’re not real men because they are big and strong, although many of them are. They’re not real men because they stand up in the face of adversity and bring peace and truth, which they do. They’re real men, because they’re more than a contact in my phone, more than words on a page, more than lyrics to a song, or any other thing that is less than tangible in which we too often try to find real hope. Real hope only comes from God through the life Jesus gives. And one of the most powerful ways I receive the breath of that true life is from my F3 brothers. From their real brotherhood and friendship. Their care and encouragement.

Monday could have just been an ordinary workout with some good dudes. But I shared what was going on in my heart and life in the circle of trust, which closes out each of our workouts together, and these real men stepped into my pain with me, put their strong hands on my shoulders, and imparted life-giving hope, as we prayed together to the Giver of Life Himself. It was powerful. I can barely even scratch the surface here of how thankful I am for moments like these – and there have been many – with my F3 Cherokee bros. I’m in the best shape of my life, but fitness is honestly just the icing on the cake. F3 is much more than a workout. It’s fitness, and fellowship, and faith. And it’s life-changing. It’s life-giving.

QIC: Hooch/Turner Lee

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