RU…excurvatus?

We’ll start a new series of short, to the point questions called “RU” and today we’ll ask, “Are you Excurvatus?”  Are you living outward?  It’s a yes or no question.

As we’ve discovered going through Wild at Heart, we all have wounds and we’ve all made agreements with those wounds.  For many of us, we are blanketed up, bandaged up and have retreated our heart in order to no longer be wounded.  Eventually the blankets and bandages suffocate.

Many men in our midst – and you can see this in their eyes – are simply checked out.  You can look at him and here the part of his story that he’s wiling to share (very little) and you can tell he’s living a fraction of the life he’s capable of.  Busy?  Yes.  Dutiful with work and the kids and soccer practice?  Yes.  But at his core, at his heart, he’s walled off, isolated and doing life alone.

Alone.  No true friends other than maybe a hunting or golf buddy or two but these men, as well, are surface level men.  They dare not go any deeper.

All of this to ask, “RU Excurvatus?”  Are you living your life outward?  You see, if you’ve blanketed up and numbed your heart, you’re not living outward.  To live outward means you’ve got to be real, true and vulnerable.  To live outward is to love with no promise of love in return.  To live outward is to live a life of moving towards others.

There is “more” of this life than you’re experiencing.  Don’t you want to be “that man” … real, true, genuine, authentic, vulnerable, alive?

RU?

Advertisements

Antwone Fisher clip

If you were moved this morning by the Antwone Fisher clip, you can watch it below.  Here is a stark contrast.  In the first few minutes, he is meeting with his birth mother for the first time.  He’s asking “why didn’t you ever come for me?”  He’s asking, “Why didn’t you love me?”  He talks of dreaming about her, running through the city looking for her around each corner but never finding her.  He dreamed of her taking him in and making him cookies.  He dreamed…of being loved and wanted by his mother.

She never came for him.

And then in the next part, we get as close to a picture of Heaven as maybe I’ve ever seen in a film.  He leaves his mother and is going to meet his father’s family for the first time.  They didn’t even know he existed.  Look at this scene.  Marvel in it.  Generations of a family there waiting to embrace and love him as he steps through the door.  Much as I imagine Heaven will be for us.  And then, he steps through another door to the elders of his family seated around a banquet feast prepared for his homecoming.  His love is there waiting for him as well and finally his grandmother knocks on the table to get his attention and pulls him close with both hands on his face and simply says “welcome”.

Maybe your Mom didn’t, couldn’t, can’t embrace and accept you as you need but our Lord Jesus does.  He simply wants you to drop your pose and your defense, step through the door so He can pull you in close and look you in the eye to say … welcome.

slide the viewer at the bottom to the 2:17:00 mark.  The total clip is about 10 minutes…   (note, sometimes when these go out as emails, the youtube clips aren’t imbedded.  If you’ll go back to http://www.manliveup.wordpress.com, it is there in the post)

 

Mother wound

“The ancient societies believed that a boy becomes a man only through ritual and effort – only through the active intervention of the older men.  The father or another man must actively intervene, and the mother must let go.  In one tribe, the men take the boy away for initiation and when he returns, the boy’s mother pretends not to know him.  She asks to be introduced to “the young man”.  That is a beautiful picture of how a mother can cooperate in her son’s passage to the father’s world.  If she does not, things get very messy later – especially in marriage.  The boy develops a bond with his mother that is like emotional incest.  His loyalties are divided.  That is why scripture says, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife.”

Sometimes when the mother clings, the boy will try to tear himself away, violently.  This typically comes in the teenage years and often involves some ugly behavior, maybe some foul words on the part of the young man.  She feels rejected, and he feels guilty, but he knows he must get away.  This was my story, and my relationship with my mother has never been good since.  I’ve found that many, many adult men resent their mothers but cannot say why.  They simply know they do not want to be close to them; they rarely call.  As my friend Dave confessed, “I hate calling my mom.  She always says something like, ‘It’s so good to hear your little voice.’  I’m 25 and she still wants to call me her little lamb.”  Somehow he senses that proximity to his mother endangers his masculine journey, as though he might be sucked back in.  It is an irrational fear, but it reveals that both essential ingredients in his passage were missing; Mom did not let go, and Dad did not take him away.”       Wild at Heart Chapter 4

What about you?  Has mom let go?  Does she (or did she) affirm you in your transition to adulthood?  Or did every Christmas and Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day leave you with a feeling of guilt because you weren’t there enough for her?  Did she compete with your wife and try to interject herself in your marriage?  Did she allow you to “leave and cleave”?

Our mothers are not perfect beings.  It’s amazing how we believe they should be, they must be.  I see this in my own daughters (22 and 19) with my wife.  Shannon is there to always be “on”, always be available and there is very little grace for any imperfection she might show.  My girls seemingly cannot see Shannon as being human with her own disappointments, hurts and hang-ups.

Mom’s have it pretty tough when you think about it.  They must always be perfect and heaven forbid they ever disappoint or hurt or don’t come through.  We all tend to keep a pretty long list of all the many ways she has disappointed us.

They aren’t perfect.  Many of them have deep wounding of their own.  Some raise five kids and work long hours outside the home and cook, clean, be a wife, be a coach, be a tutor, be a…

What we saw and heard from men this morning was an awakening to some grace to let Mom go.  Some grace to forgive and appreciate, while imperfect, she gave all she could muster day after day, heartache after heartache.

The point of the wound isn’t to make villains of our Dad or our Mom or our brother.  The point of the wound isn’t to heap all blame for all my short-comings at the feet of my Mom or Dad.  Again, they were imperfect people to start with.  No, the point is to find those wounds and see the agreements we’ve made with the wounds and how those agreements have shaped our lives.  The point is to invite Jesus into those wounds to hear what He has to say to us in our brokenness.  To hear what He says as our Father and yes, as our Mother.  The point is to finally forgive Mom and Dad and let go of the hurts to extend grace to them like Jesus did to us.

Here is Stasi Eldredge’s talk.  I encourage you to watch…

 

 

hang in there

Guys, I know it has been tedious and slow.  We’ve deliberately and prayerfully crawled through this material to give it time to soak in.  You’ve been great participants.  Please stick with it.  This week we’ll be talking about the Mother Wound and then next week we move on into learning to hear what God says about us.

We only have a few more weeks in ManSchool this Spring before we break.  Obviously, we won’t finish Wild at Heart and instead, plan to come back next fall and tackle the second half of the book dealing with Eve and Warfare and Adventure.

Thank you for your faithfulness to see this through.  Many men are reporting significant and substantial breakthroughs.  Many are seeing wounds from their past showing back up and they are gathering an understanding for the agreements they’ve made with those past wounds.

As we said last week, sometimes God will resurface old wounds so they can be healed.  Some men brushed off those wounds or stuffed them and they are just now cropping back up.  God wants you to deal with them.  He wants you to invite Jesus into those wounded places so you can see and hear what The Great Healer has to say to you.

It is worth it.  So very worth it.

“Come Lord Jesus, come.  I need you right now in my heart healing those wounded, little boy places that even just today showed up.  Free me Lord Jesus from the bondage – some of it of my own making.  Wounded deeply by others?  Yes.  But I’ve taken those wounds and made agreements with them out of my own self-protection.  What I haven’t done is invite you Lord Jesus into those places.  I haven’t invited you into the places/times my Dad just checked out and abdicated his role.  I invite you there now Lord Jesus.  I invite you into that wounded place where my Mom isn’t a nurturer and where it seems “I don’t matter”.  I invite you Jesus to speak to me about just how very much I matter to you.  Lord I invite you into the woundedness from my brother and his violence towards me, his seeming desire to break me down and his competitiveness against me.  I made agreements in all this…to protect myself.  I took you out of the equation and medicated myself.  I give it over to you Lord Jesus.  You’re all I need.  Your perfect love, it saved me.  When I was unworthy and unloved and minimized, you loved me.  When my whole world showed me “I don’t matter”, you grabbed me by my face and you looked into my eyes and said, “You matter son”.  I love you Lord Jesus.  Forgive me for running.  Forgive me for medicating and chasing idols in a foolish attempt to bring myself comfort.  Come Great Comforter, heal my broken heart.  You are, indeed, all I need.”

Navy SEALs and Special Forces aren’t immune to this…

Operation Restored Warrior is a ministry to the military where they go after these guy’s hearts.  SEALS, Rangers, Special Forces, Delta Force, Marine Recon, Airborne.  Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq veterans are invited to a 5 day of intensive, Wild at Heart like encounter at a ranch in Colorado.  What they find as they go into their story and lives is that it is actually the wounds from their childhood that define them more than the military.  There is an event that happens in war that brings it to the surface but as they step back and look at it, in the 100 men that have come through this program, every single one of them have a childhood wound running deep.

As SEALs, Delta Forces, etc. they’ve figured it out that “you’re on your own”.  To the world, they’ve proven, “I have what it takes”.  There is no question, they are the real deal.  But they hide behind it and Satan absolutely takes them out.  Most have personal lives that are destroyed, family lives destroyed.  Many times it is from them trying to exert total control over their lives and it just doesn’t work.  They look, to the outward world, like a man’s man (their pose) but they have father wounds, a search for validation, etc.

95+% of these men, in this ministry’s experience, when they first come into the military, are wounded, wounded men.  They come in trying to get validation through “Do I have what it takes?”  They get that answered in the military way i.e. they reach the “best of the best” status but they never get it answered at the heart level.  Becoming a SEAL is really no different than an utter drivenness that propels you to becoming the CEO of IBM.  We may reach “that place” but it never answers the heart question.

These guys – our most elite warriors – usually have no idea there is a spiritual battle underway for their soul.  They go off to war and experience some horrific things and then are pretty much left on their own.  It has some devastating consequences.  So in this ministry, they go at their pose and their wound.  “What is the message of your life?”  And they have them tell their story.

For 80-85% of them one of their biggest wounds from childhood is abandonment.  Remember, these are Navy SEALS, Special Forces, etc.  They dig deeper and ask God, “What else?”  What else is in my story?  What was said against me?  What were the lies spoken into me?

They gave an example of a Staff Sargent who led 12 men based on intel that insurgents were building and stockpiling IEDs.  They go in.  Break into 3 groups of 4.  Head into a big area of high grass.  They walk into a booby trap, ambush and fire fight.  Right off the bat, his best friend by his side takes what proves to be, a fatal head wound.  Then two privates get shot.  He’s tending to his friend and returning fire.  Down to his last 100 grounds and two grenades, he has enough ammo to just get out.

So he fights his way out of the grass and rushes back to post which was nearby, rearms himself with as much ammo as he can carry and goes back, by himself.  He takes out the entire insurgent group and uncovers the largest stash of IEDs in Iraq.  Sets Al Qaeda way back.  He’s awarded the Silver Star.  He’s a guy hero’s are made of.

When he gets to the ranch, he’s totally taken out.  They go into his story and the singular message of his life from his father is “You’ll never get anything right.  You’re such a screw-up”.

You can guess what he was hearing in his head and his heart after this battle – “At that moment in the battle, I should have known better.”  And he lived with that.  And it ate him up.  Sometimes God will raise events to unearth these agreements we make so that He can heal them.  He was shut down, carrying deep guilt and shame stemming from a foundational belief of “I can’t get anything right”.

We have to heal the soul.  Drivenness cannot fix this wound.  “I’ll deal with it” won’t cure it.  Walling it off and compartmentalizing it won’t make it go away.  We have to invite Jesus into these wounds.  What was He saying to us as little boys when these wounds came?

So they took this Sargent back into the battle.  Satan was there pounding away condemning him.  So in listening prayer they asked him to go back into the battle, into the pain, the smoke, the gunfire, etc. where all his team died and invite Jesus into this deep wounded space.

“What is Jesus saying to you right in this moment?”

And it happens almost every time they do this with these men, this man said, “Jesus is saying to me, “I’m His son.  I didn’t mess up.  I did what I was trained to do.  It wasn’t my fault”.

These men are gladiators and it defines their lives.  They hide behind it.  It works.  For a while.  Until an event like this happens and the walls come crumbling down.  Eventually the drivenness doesn’t anesthetize.  The booze doesn’t make the pain go away.  The porn doesn’t bring healing.  Eventually they look UP.

When they look UP and invite Jesus back into this most wounded and sometimes ashamed places, they receive healing and truth and restoration.

So…what about you?  “What else?”  What else is in my story?  What was said against me?  What were the lies spoken into me?  What agreements do I carry like “I don’t matter” or “It’s up to me” or “I’ll always be a screw-up”?

Perhaps it’s time you drop the pose and pull off the bandages and ask Jesus into your wounded places.

 

The wound (4) – men share their story

Today, we heard the testimony of three men who wanted to get up and share their story, the wound they received and, more importantly, the agreements they made from the wound.

Don shared this quote from CS Lewis that is striking… “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Wrap it up carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. . .The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.”

We’re talking about our hearts here and the damage these wounds inflicts upon the heart.  What do we believe?  The lies that were spoken over us or about us by fathers, mothers, brothers, grandmothers, coaches or bosses?  Or do we believe the Truth from God that He loved us so much that Jesus was willing to die for us?

In Jimmy’s story, his father’s sternness, work-ethic and pain drove Jimmy to a performance-based, “I’m on my own” in life.  He excelled in football in high school and at Auburn.  After school, it became work.  Perform, perform, perform and “do it on my own” was the agreement he made to guard his heart.  He took it into his career.  Ultimately, it didn’t work.  The performance couldn’t heal the heart.

Don was taught, “Got a problem?  Suck it up and move on.”  Don’t show weakness.  But ultimately, that doesn’t heal it either.  It’s only a Band-Aid.  He didn’t let anyone in, self-protected, shut down and believed that “in order to be loved, I had to be perfect.”  What he’s learned here recently is that how he treats his heart is how he’ll treat others.  Not only had he walled off others to protect his heart, in so doing, he’d also walled off God.  But he’s pushing into this, facing these wounds, coming to terms with the agreements he’s made and inviting Jesus into his story.  Is it worth opening this up?  His answer, “Absolutely”.

Robin’s Dad left when he was young.  After a bitter disappointment at four-years old when his Dad failed to show up and a fight ensued between his folks, Robin said, “It’s OK Mama, we’ll get us another Daddy.”  At four!  Through this any many other incidents, Robin made the agreement of “Dad’s don’t follow through.”  But through it all, Robin sees God’s intervention in his life and understands his mission today to be “to point others to the glorious joy and understanding of knowing Jesus loves me”.

Amazing stories.  Wounded little boys.  Brave men.  We’re all there.  We’ve all got them.  So why do we push into them?  So that we can take away what others said to our heart and in our agreements, what we say about ourselves so we can hear what Jesus says.  So we can hear Truth and invite some kindness into our hearts.  Men, this is worth pursuing.  Walling off your hurts, rationalizing with “I’m fine” or “I can make it work” is only a temporary fix.  Like a weed in your lawn, it’s just going to keep coming back until you invite some Truth into it and let Jesus heal your broken heart.

dealing with pornography head-on

If pornography or sexual addiction is a problem for you, there is hope.  Satan loves to keep things like this in the dark.  He thrives in the darkness.  If you bring an issue like this into the light and invite Jesus into it, you can beat this and get to restoration.

Just this morning, a man walked up and said, “I want in the class on sexual addiction”.  Good for him.  GREAT for him!  Right there in that one action, he brought it into the light.  That’s the critical first step.

Eric Kennedy is starting a series appropriately named, “Living in the Light”.  I’ve been through the material and used it last fall when we addressed pornography at ManSchool.  It is very good.  They are meeting on Sunday afternoons starting a week from this Sunday on Sunday May 3 at 4pm in the prayer room.

This is a great, safe setting for you to begin the process towards freedom.  No shame.  Anonymous.  Just come.  Stop trying to do this alone.

If you want to join the group, please text Eric at 706 575-7470