Knowing the Needs of a Man’s Heart

Bob Damrau, LPC, LMHC

Men feel most like men when purposefully moving through life with the confidence that what they have to offer impacts the lives of family members and neighbors in some positive fashion. Navigating this side of eternity, however, is rarely marked by fair skies and calm seas. The storms of life often bring doubt in one’s ability to make a difference. The winds of adversity can add despair as thoughts spiral downward. Men tend to think, ‘I don’t have what it takes,’ so they drop their sails and are tossed aimlessly in need — never sending out a call of distress.

Most men learn to hide their needs as boys. They are taught what is acceptable and not acceptable at home. The masculine characteristics are encouraged and usually include strength, independence and fearlessness, while unmanly attributes like weakness, dependence, and fear are disdained. So, to be accepted, guys strive at an early age to gain supreme control over their feelings (usually by pushing them down) which results in not being able to identify the needs that are embedded in those emotions. Dragging this type of strategy into adulthood results in a continual denial of a man’s needs, as well as the deprivation of his heart’s longing for genuine connection.

‘Needs are a key factor in love and intimacy,’ says David Ferguson in his book entitled Top 10 Intimacy Needs. Ferguson continues, ‘It’s possible to ‘hydro-plane’ through life and never share the joys of intimacy with another human being.’ The lack of a real emotional life, where feelings are voiced and needs are met through caring for one another, leaves a man vulnerable to the changing current of his times. When not directed by their feelings about themselves or the needs of those for whom they care, many men turn to an addiction, which will never bring satisfaction ‘ lust.

Before reading the rest of this article, I encourage you to reflect on these questions.
What do you think are the origins of lust in your life?
How does this problem affect your relationships today?
Are you willing to change course?

If your musings conclude that your acting out behaviors go deeper than, ‘It feels good;’ if your fantasies often center around the desire for real intimacy; and if you genuinely want to break the compulsive cycle, then listen up. IT’S OK TO HAVE NEEDS! God created man with emotions in line with His own image. He also made humanity needy, so that individuals might exercise faith in the context of relationship both with Himself and others bearing His likeness. The very first problem recorded in the Bible is spoken by the Lord. Genesis 2:18 says, ‘It is not good that man should be alone.’ God’s remedy for this was to create another human being for the purpose of relationship. Man was never meant to go it alone, neither should he remain isolated.

So, what does a guy really want? Knowing the needs of a man’s heart requires him first to identify what he is feeling. Let me explain. When a man acts out, whatever he was feeling would most likely go away, leaving him unable to target that emotion and, therefore, sinking him deeper into need. You see, there are needs imbedded in every feeling. For instance, a person feeling alone needs support. Or a man who is in transition may need comfort (change always carries a degree of loss). The guy who is feeling rejected probably needs acceptance or a sense of security. Now, once the feeling is identified and the need is generated, then a healthy connection with a spouse, friend or brother-in-arms will lead to getting that need met. And whether or not a need is met has a profound impact on a man’s life. This is another appropriate place to reflect.

Are you OK being a person designed with needs? Can you identify the relationship between your acting out and your unmet needs? What are your most vulnerable internal triggers (feelings/needs)? A person admitting he has needs is not admitting some personal weakness or that he is unhealthily dependent or that he lacks courage. Rather, it is a confession of one’s humanness. All men have needs as per God’s design. Acknowledging neediness is both truthful and beneficial. It is the rudder that keeps a man on course as he grows to love God with his whole heart and those around him from his heart. May you have fair skies and favorable winds.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

Loneliness: Winter in the Heart

Roger Parks

The experience of loneliness has been very familiar to me although I wasn’t aware of its impact on me until later in life. Having grown up as only child in a rural setting, I spent a great deal of my youth alone. At the time, I considered it quite normal to play by myself since I was very shy and didn’t have the desire or confidence to cultivate any friendships. My active imagination enabled me to entertain myself by creating various scenarios of baseball games in my mind and then acting them out on the field next to our home. Needless to say, it’s very challenging to enact an entire baseball game when you have only one player!

During the years from age 12 through adolescence I never consciously perceived myself to be lonely. Having no close friends and lacking a strong connection with my parents, I immersed myself in watching sports, reading, and studying, all of which kept me busy and assuaged any sense of boredom. Then at age 13, I distinctly recall viewing my first photograph of a naked woman, not in Playboy or Penthouse, but in Life magazine, a mainstream family-oriented publication! It was a small picture of Marilyn Monroe lying on a blanket. Even though it wasn’t sexually explicit (we’d call it soft porn today), it was enough to stimulate my adolescent hormones and introduce me to the exciting world of sexual fantasy and its close companion masturbation.

I remember feeling guilty and yet very excited that I had found a new ‘hobby’ to entertain myself whenever I wanted. At that juncture in my life, I had not yet been exposed to pornography but that absence didn’t prevent me from generating my own images. Remember, I have an active imagination! Combining these self-generating images with those elicited from seeing actual girls at my high school served as a powerful source to fuel my masturbation habit which eventually developed into a daily practice, i.e., addiction.

During my early adult years I viewed pornographic magazines on a very sporadic basis as my embarrassment usually kept me from entering stores to buy them. The masturbation continued unabated and by that point I didn’t give much thought to the habit since it had become such a routine part of my life. There were occasional episodes of guilt, especially after becoming a Christian during college, but I never seriously considered eliminating the habit altogether. I compartmentalized it and assumed the rest of my life could function as normal. Then came the Internet which introduced me to the intoxicating world of cyberporn. Viewing countless images generated a sexual obsession and intensified the masturbation. Of course, like any addiction, one builds up a tolerance such that greater amounts of the substance are needed to produce the desired effect. Without realizing it at the time, I had found a way to address painful feelings of loneliness by comforting (self-medicating) myself through viewing Internet porn and masturbating to these images. This led to a self-perpetuating vicious cycle of loneliness ‘ distress ‘ self-medication ‘ guilt ‘ and more loneliness.

This cycle generated an intense conflict between my desire to please and honor God through maintaining sexual purity and my actual addictive behavior.

Feeling disconnected from God and powerless to overcome this addiction through my own efforts, I sought help from a group of men who have struggled with the same addiction. Among the several valuable lessons I’ve learned in my quest for sexual purity, the importance of accountability within the context of a caring community is critical. I firmly believe that as Christians, God calls us to bear each other’s burdens and struggles in truth and love so that the body of Christ truly does become a healing community for all those afflicted with sin and addictions.

Can you relate? You don’t have to go this alone. Please see Every Man’s Battle for help on this subject.

More Tools In The Battle: Part 3 of 4: Wash EACH OTHER’s Feet?

David S. Mackey

Unless you take the position that washing some other guys’ dirty, stinky feet could be one of the biggest ‘turn-offs’ in history, what could feet possibly have to do with being strong in the battle?

In review, the premise of these articles is that part of winning the Battle is to leave the false intimacy of sexual acting out and pursue the true intimacy of loving God and others with our whole being.

Many tools/facets of True Intimacy with God and others are found in the ‘Each Other’ passages of the New Testament. ‘Each Other’ messages can help us build True Intimacy, with God and others.

Jesus’ primary message was to ‘Love Each Other’ or ‘Love One Another’, in a kingdom way right now. Loving others will be a powerful, maybe THE powerful tool, towards fighting this Battle by building True Intimacy. The ‘Each Other’ passages are actions which are to be actions of love, and actions of love build true intimacy. When True intimacy destroys false intimacy the Battles are WON!!!

SERVING and FEET WASHING

Some church communities actually have foot washing ceremonies as part of their worship activities. Most of the church has taken the more symbolic meaning in John 13 and understood Jesus’ intent as being to serve others. In fact Jesus says that this is why the Son of Man came’ to serve.

In Galatians 5:13 the ”each other’ phrase ‘serve each other’ is found. Peter also tells us to serve in 1 Peter 4:10 and throughout the New Testament the message continues. We are called to serve each other.

Back to John 13 and Jesus example of serving by washing his disciples’ feet we find some significant meaning. History tells us that it was the custom, in the times of Jesus’ walk on earth, for people to have their feet washed when they entered a home. Actually, it would be the house servants who would do the washing. More specifically, among the servants, it would be the servants of the lowest status who would do the washing.

So Jesus was not just saying be just any servant but he even modeled taking the position of the lowest servant when you serve. If you think about it, there was good reason for this task to be delegated to the lowest position. People in that day wore open sandals and walked in pretty dirty conditions. The dust and sand would be bad enough but consider all the animals and their deposits made also in the walking area. So people who come walking in off the street would have REALLY dirty feet.

The message of Jesus and the New Testament is to serve each other even to those with the lowliest possible need.

Could this possibly have anything to do with fighting the Battle? I say absolutely.

As has already been said in this series, taking the focus off ourselves and on to others will give us strength in the Battle. A focus on others needs and moving to serve those needs is an even greater distraction to the temptation all around us and it is a distraction from the temptation within us.

Remember the acronym HALT BS? Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Bored or Stressed. While serving others it will be hard to be focused on Anger or Loneliness or being Bored which are 3 common triggers toward acting out.

What about how we feel about ourselves? Hasn’t it been the case that in our acting out we feel pretty lousy about ourselves. Our goal in serving others should not be to make ourselves feel good but the truth is that serving others will make us feel better about ourselves. In Christ, we are ‘new creatures’ we should think and feel good about who we are in Christ. Serving will reinforce that truth. Serving will build us up, it will encourage us. Serving will put us in touch with love’ loving another and being loved. Serving is the ultimate esteem builder.

The kind of service we are called to is part of intimacy. Washing another’s feet seems like a pretty intimate activity. As with Encouragement, it does involve looking more deeply into people and seeing their struggles and needs. Serving puts our focus more often on others, take the focus so perpetually on ourselves and builds up who we are in Christ.

Can you see this as yet another tool in the Battle? What difference would your Battle be if you were focusing on the needs of others? How would you feel about yourself if your focus were on others’ needs and not your own desires.

The Battle needs to be fought on many fronts, using many internal and external tools. Serving others though an external tool will internally change and strengthen your heart giving you strength in the Battle.

Serve Each Other!

For more insight or help on this subject see Every Man’s Battle.