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Shifting the narrative of masculinity

There’s a false perception around masculinity in many of our communities today. Sadly, countless young boys are shaped by those false perceptions, believing that masculinity is defined by physical appearances, status, wealth and power. As a young girl, I too frequently believed the lies associated with manhood, trusting the schemes of the enemy that would’ve in return prevented me from discovering how God called men to live and lead. It wasn’t until I met Demario Davis that I was able to truly peel back the onion. I’d been deceived many years believing masculinity was external, when in all actuality, it is what’s occurring inwardly. 

Tamela Davis
Courtesy of Tamela Davis

Less than a year ago, our family received devastating news that shattered our hearts into the tiniest pieces and shifted our perspective of life tremendously. Our youngest daughter, Carly-Faith, was diagnosed with Group E Retinoblastoma, which affects the retina, usually as a tumor. It’s extremely rare, with only 300 kids diagnosed in the United States per year. Nothing could have effectively prepared our hearts to learn that our child had cancer. As I listened to the doctor advise us on our best options and explain where this journey may lead, I felt weakened. This was a situation that could have easily caused us to lose trust in our Father and allow the enemy to fill us with doubt. So many questions flooded my mind.

While all healthy athletes have a physical warm-up regimen, my husband has a warm-up for life. Demario begins each morning in our prayer closet kneeled before the throne, giving God glory and petitioning Him to shape his life to reflect HIS. At the news of Carly-Faith’s diagnosis, my husband and I immediately went to the Lord in prayer — praying for specific miracles. One of the miracles we prayed for was for God to salvage her left eye. However, that wasn’t a part of His master plan. We had to rapidly move forward with enucleation, the removal of her left eye.

It would’ve been easy to be swept away by our fear or our feelings…but God appeared swiftly and granted me the strength and endurance that I would have never seen myself having under these circumstances. And soon we witnessed Him reveal a different series of miracles that He unfolded before our very eyes.

Before COVID-19 and statewide mandatory quarantines, we were scheduled to be back in New Orleans. Had we been in NOLA, the closest place for treatment was Houston. Thankfully, we were home in Nashville, where Vanderbilt Hospital is located. This was a huge blessing and meant we could immediately see a specialist. One of the top research doctors and surgeons for this particular cancer was assigned to us at that hospital. Surgeons were able to do outpatient surgery on my daughter two days after diagnosis. After weeks of awaiting additional test results we received the news that no chemotherapy was needed because the cancer was removed in the nick of time! Also, it hadn’t spread to her brain or right eye, which was a concern when receiving the diagnosis.

And during all of this — despite the NFL season — Demario was right by my side.

Showing up for family is one of the greatest tasks in fulfilling God's purpose for men’s leadership inside of our homes. Families thrive when fathers are inside the home leading, providing (this doesn’t mean just financially), and sacrificing. Regardless of what life throws our way, I find relief in knowing that Demario will show up displaying grace, servanthood, wisdom, and biblical truth — sacrificially, without me having to ask. He attempts to calm every imaginable storm and takes ownership for things that may be beyond his control.

True masculinity requires one to faithfully love and pursue Christ — I admire how my husband displays this. The closer he gets to Christ, the greater his hunger and thirst becomes. He desires God in every imaginable way, keeping him totally dependent on Him in every facet of life. I understand his passion to invest in impacting the lives of the future generation — awareness, failure, and overcoming adversity in his own life has pushed Demario to incorporate character development and discipleship into how he approaches mentorship, helping prevent young men from following cycles, falling through the cracks —and further away from a relationship with God. 

That’s why I was delighted — and not at all surprised — when I heard Demario had been chosen by his fellow athletes to receive the 2021 Bart Starr Award.  The Award reflects so much of who he is and I’m so grateful to celebrate that recognition with him during the upcoming Super Bowl Breakfast on February 6.

Through my relationship with Demario, I’ve learned a lesson that I will carry through every transition of life: We are all called to the mission — knowing God and making God known. Our mission field may look different based on God's plan for specific seasons of life, but the mission should never change.  Every day when we rise…from our homes, to our jobs, to our community, we are on the battlefield for Him. We should maximize every opportunity, every victory and every storm God entrusted us with to teach and point others to Him. We are to steward all that God has entrusted us with — and He’s not only entrusting us to steward the good things, but He wants us to steward our trials, trauma, and circumstances, so that through it all people may encounter Him. I have been shattered to pieces many times throughout my 33 years of living, but I’ve also been restored and redeemed…and in that, I’ve found my purpose.  

Everything under the sun is temporary. Every experience, every encounter, every uphill battle, every accomplishment… and the list goes on. It’s all short lived. But the only thing that is eternal is God, and if we live sold out for Him, in return we will gain eternal life. I encourage each of you to bloom wherever you're planted…not for your name sake, but only for the name of Christ! 

Tamela Davis is a philanthropist, encourager, believer, cook, writer, speaker, educator, organizer, homeschool mom and wife to NFL player Demario Davis, linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.  In 2013, Tamela and her husband co-founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation, where they focus on equipping the next generation of leaders through education, ministry, sports and mentorship.  When not cheering for the Saints or schooling her four children, Tamela encourages others through her blog, The F Word, where she writes about faith, family, food and football. 

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