Story 27

An Answer to an Unspoken Prayer

F3 was, literally, an answer to an unspoken prayer. Over the last few years, I had lost two men that had been strong mentors in my life. My father-in-law had died unexpectedly, and a good, older male friend of mine had moved a few states away to be with his family. It had created a hole that I sensed needed to be filled. But, I wasn’t sure how. I have many people in my life, but few close friends. I am great at making acquaintances, but making close friends can be a struggle for me. I knew I needed more men of substance in my life for me to grow and be better. 

Exercise was something I enjoyed, but I would get bored with easily. I had tried different programs, but I would lose focus with them quickly and fall off the wagon. Running has always been something that I enjoyed, but, other than that, I was a fish out of water. So, I feel it was more God’s timing and not my workout ethic that had me packing my bag to head to the Y on a random Friday in July. There, I ran into two gentlemen, Hazmat and Tupac (not their given names) in the parking lot. Hazmat, I knew slightly from church. I gave them the “manly” head nod and a “hello” and then spent the next 15 minutes being told about this workout group called F3 that was open to men and free of charge. I told them that I would try and be out on Monday. 

Part of me is still surprised I made it out that Monday. Showing up to random events like that is not in my comfort zone. But, I figured that it would be a bunch of middle aged men, and being a “runner”, I could hold my own. Boy, was I wrong! After meeting men named Q*bert, Stark, and Casper and after rounds of running hills, burpees, and things called Merkins (push-ups), American Hammers (Russian Twists), and Big Boi’s (sit ups), I was trying not to splash my merlot (throw up). At the end of it, I was toasted and stoked. I got my own F3 name (Montoya), and I couldn’t wait to show up again. These were men who I didn’t have to try and be anything around. These men, who didn’t judge me in many of the ways I judge myself, didn’t care about my occupation, my income level, or my education. All they cared about was what they could do to help me be a better man, and they asked me to do the same for them. A core tenant of F3 is to leave no man behind but to leave no man where you found him. 

Throughout my year at F3, I have met men who I call brother, and deeply mean it. I have love and respect for each one of them. The workouts are varied and are only limited by the creativity of the man leading it. I have a great, but busy life. I have a wonderful wife of 14 years, five awesome children. I work as a nurse at an area hospital and am in school. My life is full, and at times, stress filled. But, it doesn’t matter the mood that I am in at the start of the workout, I am always smiling and laughing at the end. It doesn’t matter if I am there every day, or once every other week. I am always welcomed, and people are quick to check in on me if I am out for too long. I am surrounded by examples of high quality husbands, fathers, workers and leaders that push me to be the best version of myself. F3 fills a spot that I didn’t even fully know that I needed filled. These men are a true gift from God.

Ron “Montoya” Stowers

October 2019

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