We’re a long way from those first sessions – those movie clips from 300, Braveheart and Gladiator. We’re a long way from “adventure”. In the very first session, we said, “Stay with this. Stick with it. It will be opposed. It’ll be awfully tempting to not read the book or push into the material.” We also said this is going to be “New Frontier” and used the analogy of the wagon train pushing forward into the western frontier. We will face tough things, hardships and bad weather and it will be tempting to turn back for home. And so we’ve moved past Gladiator deep into some real frontier stuff like posing and the wounds we’ve taken from fathers, mothers, brothers, coaches, etc. Most of this stuff is never talked about in the church.
Once you are exposed to it, you begin to see it everywhere. You see the poser in your boss, politicians, that friend that you just never have been able to truly understand. When you know his story, you can now understand why he is the way he is. Perhaps this helps you better understand your wife to some degree?
(let me interject – many of you are focusing on your sons right now – that’s OK – but before you set out to “fix” how you’ve messed up with your son, God wants your heart back. Let him Father you. Go into the wound and the pose and invite Jesus there. Give this some time in your life before rushing to fix your son.)
Craig McConnell asked in one of those early clips – “What would it be like to be a man that is alive and free and true?” As we expose the pose, as we discover our wounds, and as we see how we’ve accepted the wound and wear it as the defining characteristic of our lives…
Don’t you see how this has just sucked the life out? Don’t you see how hard it is to be free and true when you believe you are just a “seagull” or “you don’t matter” or you’re just “the baby of the family”? Don’t you see how hard it is to be all God designed you to be if you believe you’re just the baby of the family? There is this spiritual numbness that has overtaken most men. Good men but numb, quiet, reserved, checked-out men. Their channels have been silted over and that which once ran deep is now quite shallow. “I was afraid because I was naked. So I hid”. There is always a story behind the checked-out man.
So let me ask you, what is the story you are living in? What did you get from your Dad? Did he make sure you knew you were adored? Did he instruct you and teach you and equip you so you knew the answer to the question, “Do I have what it takes”?
Most men are missing this. I did. My Dad is a good man, full of integrity, a great provider. Neither his father nor his mother ever told him “I love you”. He tells me he loves me. I have grace towards him (and hurt for him) given how he was raised. He suffered from depression and it almost took him out. He almost took his life when I was about 8. I remember the sobbing tears and the waves of depression. I remember climbing up in his lap as he sobbed and hugging him. He came out of that oppression but he pretty much poured himself into work and success as a way to medicate his pain.
He was present but checked-out as a father. He unknowingly left my fathering to my older brothers. They are 5 and 6 years older than me. So at 8-10, my middle brother was 13-15. He taught me how to fish, throw a curve ball, shoot a free-throw and how to play golf. He also beat the crap out of me physically and mentally. He wasn’t prepared to be a father. He was just an older brother. I don’t remember my Dad intervening to protect me from my brothers. He’d just say “Don’t play with them if they’re going to keep hurting you”.
By my teen years, my brothers were off at school and I stopped growing. I didn’t go through puberty until 18 and that was only through medication to kick start it. From 14-18 I fell behind my peers physically and socially. My Dad didn’t engage me in this. He left it to my Mom and she too was ill-equipped to handle it. I kept asking her for help, asking if there was a doctor somewhere who could help. Finally by age 17 as a senior in high school did we go to Emory and they diagnosed my condition and began treatments.
Behind every posing man is a wounded little boy.
So as a teenager, did I know I was a man? I physically wasn’t and I didn’t have a father engaged in walking me through the transition to manhood. Through brothers torturing me to my Dad seemingly ignoring me to drifting for four years wondering if I’d ever be normal, I began to deeply understand “I don’t matter”. I knew my parents loved me. They made extra efforts to help me during those years because they knew it was such a tough time for me but I don’t recall them and specifically him engaging me, fathering me, taking care of me. Through this, I got “You don’t matter”.
This shows up all over my life in the rest of my story. It shows up with coaches, bosses, friends, my brothers even today, my folks even today. My parents were not very good grandparents – never would babysit, never offer to keep the kids so we could have a night out, wouldn’t engage the grandkids, attend soccer games, etc. They were hands off grandparents and still are even today. My wound triggers this in me – an almost rage if I focus on it towards my parents – a rage around their choosing to miss the lives of these precious little girls and what my agreement with my wound does is say, “Richard, your girls don’t matter to your parents, because you don’t matter to them. Out of sight, out of mind”.
The agreement with this wound shows up all through my marriage. It shows up all over our sex life. Struggles in intimacy become a silent battle waging in my head of “You see, you don’t matter to Shannon. All she wants is what she wants. She won’t dive into a great sex life because that is important to you and you don’t matter”. And so in many areas of my marriage, my pose is that of a smart-ass. A short-fused, overly-sensitive, smart ass. I wrongly believe I cannot be real and true with Shannon around this issue, so I stuff it. I listen to the enemy go right after my wound and tell me “you don’t matter” and rather than opening this up to her (After all, why risk that if you don’t matter to her?), I’d stuff it. (I don’t anymore. We are pushing into much greater openness, clarity and understanding and I’m finding great freedom in this.)
I became this passive-aggressive, overly sensitive, smart ass. Secretly looking for ways to punch back at her without being so transparent to be obvious. And in having this layer of Teflon around me, she can’t hurt me anymore than I think she already has.
“Until a man knows he’s a man, he’ll forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrink back from anything that might reveal he is not.” That’s me.
Guys, this is deadly, diabolical, deep stuff. Do you see it?
My wound is clear but I what I want you to see is what I did with it. The wound matters but what is more important is the agreement we make with our wound. Follow me on this…
- The effect of our wound produces the agreement I make.
- The agreement becomes our pose, our fig leaf, our brilliant disguise.
- “I don’t matter” or “you’re the baby of the family” is a mask I wear that puts a protective buffer around me
- This “protective” buffer makes it hard for people to get through to the real me and…
- Therefore, they have a hard time being close to me which, therefore…
- Only further convinces me “I don’t matter”.
It very much is a self-fulfilling prophesy
Again, Craig McConnell asked in one of those early clips – “What would it be like to be a man that is alive and free and true?”
Don’t you see the effect of the posing and the denying/minimizing the wounds?
Don’t you see just how dead, in a prison-of-my-own-making and false that is?
Don’t you see – most importantly – how this posing, this masking of the wound, this blanketing, this Teflon keeps me from being able to be fathered by God? Don’t you see how in trying to protect myself with this false front prevents me from hearing the Truth from my Father?
Lastly, let me tell you that much of this is new to me. I’ve known my wound for 10+ years but only in the past month has God revealed to me the agreement I made with it and how that plays itself out (destructively) in my life. I have been under pretty heavy assault over the past week as I’ve unpacked this and prepared for this week’s session. The enemy does not want you peeling back these layers and looking under the hood. If the pose works for you, if you can minimize or deny the wound from your father or mother or fall back on “it wasn’t that bad, others had it worse” then you are letting the enemy win. He wants to keep you right there – depending on self, depending on your “it’s up to me” or “I can figure out how to make it on my own”. On your own? He wins. You cannot fight the fight of this life behind your pose on your own. You’ll get eaten alive. Oh sure, you can fake it until you make it and none of your other golf buddies are dealing with stuff like this, etc. but it doesn’t work long-term and it carries a massive cost to you. The very last thing Satan wants is for you to hear from the true Father. He wants you Tefloned-up doing it alone. Please don’t kid yourself. There is much here for the taking, much restoration that is available and much “alive and free and true” just waiting on the other side of your pose.
What about you?