Courage

I’ve talked to some courageous men lately.

If you do a little Bible homework, you’ll find courage/courageous used more than 50 different ways. It speaks of the wind, the heart, stones, the will, rationality, and boldness to face fear.

What I mean by courage is the bold willingness to face the darkest parts of themselves (and sometimes others). It takes guts (along with a healthy dose of desperation!) to look in the mirror and face the man we are. To compare ourselves to Christ and ask where we fall short, and then invite his correction? Not for the faint of heart.

In this past week I’ve talked to men who have looked rejection, failure, insecurity, loneliness, abuse, addiction, shame, disappointment, a forest-fire-charred family tree and raging wives in the face and stood firm. They’ve held their own pain, and their wives. They’ve held their kids faces and reassured them “daddy isn’t leaving”. They have tossed in the towel and moments later gotten back in the ring for extra rounds, taking Ali style jabs thrown from the sinful flesh of the old, sinful man they are toe-to-toe with.

And in every re-engagement, every surrender to the process, every decision to take their finger off the nuclear button, Jesus is made known. He is glorified. His strength shines through.

If you’re at critical mass reading this, I reassure you there are men fighting the good fight. If you’re dialing in the codes and ready to blow the whole thing up – reconsider. If you’re still in the affair – end it. Porn stash – delete it. Online persona – erase it all. Women’s underwear – throw them away. Inanimate objects – trash them. It doesn’t have to go this way any longer.

 

Anticipating Temptation

This post may seem obvious, but some times we have to be reminded of the basics. One of those basics for me is anticipating temptation.

We all know, when we are in our right minds and thinking clearly, that certain people, places and things will set off our temptation. Unfortunately, too often, we just blindly walk into situations where we feel caught off guard and there’s a struggle that ensues. But if we were careful to anticipate the situations, we would have our guard up and be ready for the fight. In fact, usually when we anticipate it, there isn’t even a fight.

So what are the anticipatory signs you need to be on the lookout for?

We need to break this down internally and externally.

Internally – what goes on inside me that leads to temptation?

  • Mind – thought patterns that are negative, self defeating, critical and pessmistic
  • Heart – emotions like fear, anger, loneliness, disappointment, the 3 I’s.
  • Soul – experiencing a drought spiritually or being disconnected from the Word.

Externally – what goes on outside me?

  • What restaurants typically have scandalously dressed women at lunchtime?
  • What billboards/signs/establishments will I pass on my way to the office?
  • What interactions do I know are on my calendar for today that make me feel uncomfortable?
  • Am I going anywhere today that the physical location is triggering?

These are some of the things I need to anticipate in order to honor God with my life. If I am aware of them, I can made commitments and decisions ahead of time so I’m not caught off-guard. When I do, the likelihood of living with integrity goes up.

What do you need to anticipate?

 

Angerization

I wanted to take a minute to talk about angerizing emotions. For men who struggle with sexual integrity issues, there are usually 2 ways emotions get dealt with – Sexualizing or Angerizing.

When the integrity issues or addiction are/is active, emotions that should get appropriately felt and expressed are stuffed and stunted. Instead, they end up getting turned into sexual energy. This happens in the form of fantasy, masturbation, the pornography viewed, the women flirted with, or the escort ads perused. It is especially true of what we would typically categorize as negative feelings – hurt, fear, failure, shame, disappointment, loneliness, rejection, boredom, injustice (feeling falsely accused) or feeling misunderstood. It can also happen with positive emotions too- some guys act out as a reward mechanism, in effect not knowing the experience of healthy celebration and recognition.

During active addiction or struggle, the sexualization provides a relief; a temporary reroute of the emotions, diminishing their intensity and thus the perceived negative impact. For some guys the acting out doesn’t take enough of the edge off, so the residual emotional churn becomes irritability, frustration and general rudeness.

Often though, when the addiction ends and someone stops acting out, the release valve is removed and the emotion gets turned into serious anger. Sometimes it is intense – rageful, out of control, scary. It can even scare him! When that low level anger is present, the angry feelings are familiar. But when that’s not the case, the newfound rageful experience can feel like a monster trying to escape. The chemical, endorphin release of acting out provides a soothing or calming effect, but without it the anger can be raw.

Don’t let the anger be your lead, let it be your guide. When you feel angry, it is telling you there is more to the story. Your heart is trying to feel and express something, and likely longing to connect with God and others.