Life After 2 PM

It came across to me one Sunday that I do not listen as well to the Spirit of God when I am out of an element of Godly fellowship or church related activity. As an example, on church days I am able to cage my internal ego knowing I am going to be fed and experience some good ole God joyfulness (especially during ‘praise and worship time’) at my church. At church I believe and experience the Spirit of God speaks to me. This is a place where I let God reveal things to me, comfort me, confront me and challenge me (that is where this article is coming from). It seems to follow me from the rise of the morning to the service and somewhat into the early afternoon. But then something happens! Somewhere around 2 PM, my internal ego is let out of its cage: I got it, I’m good, I can do it God.’ Then the rest of the week begins the wrestle of ‘who’s the boss here?’

Most commonly, at that point I do go on and deliver my week of obligations, promises and commitments to social systems and family. But as the week tarries on, it appears that my life becomes a highway I have entered onto and it speeds up ever so quickly. Internally, while on the highway of life, I truly am waiting for the next off-ramp to pull over and take a rest as in the animated movie ‘Cars’ when Mac is driving Lightning McQueen to the California coast for his big race. On the way they are driving late at night and Lightning wants Mac to pull an all-nighter to get to the coast before the challengers do. Mac being aware of his strength, energy and regulations (rules and boundaries) tells Lightning that he is tired and should pull over to rest.

But Mac gives in (against his better judgment) to Lightning’s promptings to drive on only because Lightning exclaimed he would stay awake with him the whole trip. As expected, Mac is left alone in the late hour, driving to keep himself awake while Lightning is fast asleep. In the mist of this late night journey three cars come around and taunt and tease Mac as he is swerving on the road (because he is falling asleep). And that is exactly how I have observed and experienced not tending to care or protect my life from the ‘highway of life.’ And life after 2 PM on Sunday seems to be the spot when we get onto the highway and proceed and exit only if truly necessary. And often against the better judgment of our heart and soul, our ego says drive on. It is there we place ourselves into a dangerous circumstance. As when Mac was having difficulty staying awake and swerving on the road he then became vulnerable to the three other little cars directing and pushing him around on the highway. And Mac being a huge truck is moved around easily by little sporty cars.

Do you think that you are so big that nothing could truly push you around? Are you one who tends to hit the road with the family (or by yourself) and NEVER stop till you make your destination? And if you do have to stop, does it cause you to become angry, annoyed or frustrated with those who have to take a ‘potty/stretch break?’

It seems a bit interesting that author M. Scott Peck titled his book ‘The Road Less-Traveled.’ In that book, the author challenges readers to consider the path they chose and why they pick it with regard to their healing and faith in Jesus. In avoidance of any difficulty and struggle for growth, many appear to take a fast way of living: the highway. For example, as a sexual addict, you may select a supposedly quick fix path for recovery (like: I’ll just read “Every Man’s Battle” and I am good from here on). Taking the ‘road’ implies taking-in the environment you are traveling through and where you have come from. While the ‘highway’ implies ‘just get me there.’ Irregardless you are left with the choice when it comes to 2 PM on Sunday. Either you can start a journey at the ‘road’ or the ‘highway.’ The most enjoyable, nurturing, fulfilling and healing seems to always be taking the road in life. But then again, now its 2:07 PM and you can either exit onto the road of healing or, zoom-on missing the healing and rewarding life God has for you from your sexual addiction.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Martin Fierro

DipSea

There is a race that starts in San Anselmo, California, tracks over the north bay-area’s most famous hill, Mount Tamalpais, and finishes at Stinson Beach (about 7.1 miles). For over 90 years this race has been in existence and known to be one of the most challenging hill races on the west coast. The DipSea Race has a long history of respect and it is an honor to be invited to participate in the race.

The course begins in the small town at sea level, just below 671 stairs. From the top of the stairs a runner will then proceed to climb and climb and climb to just over 1300 feet above sea level. In the accent, there are numerous hill challenges to conquer. Some of those hill challenges have been given the most daunting and haunting names (such as Cardiac, Windy hill, Suicide etc’). Then after the long push upward the decent is seemingly a welcomed process. But, as in the accent, the decent has numerous names (such as Insult) that would cause a reasonably sane person to reconsider or avoid such complexity overall.

For eight months I have been training to run this race. And two months ago I applied, hoping to be invited. Yes, training began long before I even applied to be in it. The race will contain about 1300 racers, of which only about 500 are invitation spots. The other spots are for those who ran the race last year and received a significant time qualifying them to race again.

I have thought about entering the DipSea race for over eight years and now see that the last eight months of training to possibly participate in the race has been a spiritual journey for me too.

Running a good race is beyond ‘pacing yourself.’ It truly is about appropriate physical training and mental conditioning. As referred to earlier, the names of the challenging spots on the course are for a reason. One would be a fool not to look into the course and see why these multiple areas are referred as ‘the valley of shadow of death.’

It has been my experience in life that there are many opportunities to participate in races. For example, job opportunities, church activities, and leadership positions are all types of races. But in my training and process of life I have found it profitable to first recognize whether or not I was at all emotionally and spiritually fit to perform such a task. To take an opportunity that would have life implications towards others without considering my true grounding status can lead to disasters not only for myself but my family and those whom I would serve. So I find it wise to ask, Can I take that hill? And once I get to the top of the hill, can I come down the other side with the same endurance? The honor to be asked to participate in a life race is ego-boosting; however, if I have not done prep-work to increase strength in areas that need attention, such as sexual integrity, then I risk damage in a variety of ways.

When I enter any race if I have not prepared and primed myself physically and mentally for what is before me I will become a hindrance for those who are racing along side me. I must even prepare myself for future ministry so that if and when a potential situation occurs I can approach it grounded and in the best possible shape to discern what decision needs to be made.

Entering the race to heal from sexual addiction is about training and conditioning. There are hills that will pose challenges to work through but they are definitely ones that can be conquered. And yes there are names for some of the challenging hills and valleys that can cause a runner to turn away and not face the opportunity for success. But once through those challenges, you can come out a stronger and grounded man of God.

All the training for the last few months may seem to be a waste if not accepted. However, at this point it is no longer about being accepted, but being prepared for it. And if accepted into the race the next task is to perform strong enough to be automatically brought back to try the hills next year. Irregardless, a large degree of the training and conditioning over the last eight months has made me stronger and more confident in a variety of areas.

Join the race; you don’t have to face that hill of your sexual addiction alone. And if you think you can do that race alone, you are heading for some results that will not play out well. Consider attending Every Man’s Battle as a start to your training for sexual integrity. At the EMB conference you will be challenged and you will have the opportunity to become cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually fit to take that race on.

Also see our Resources for Men.

Martin Fierro

The Mother Wound

Dan Jenkins

I like to tell a humorous story about my oldest daughter when she was somewhere between two and three years old. My wife had placed some figurines on a coffee table and she told our daughter not to touch them. I was reading on the couch the next day when I noticed that our daughter was standing in front of the coffee table, staring at the figurines. Her hand was poised, ready to snatch them up. I was about to say, ‘Melissa, don’t touch those,’ when to my surprise I heard her utter the very same words. ‘Don’t touch those.’ She said these words twice out loud and in a soft whisper. I could almost see the battle waging inside her mind when, unfortunately, her hand won the debate and I had to confirm the command to not touch the figurines. But it told me that she had internalized what her mother had said the day before.

Our daughter had internalized the command, even though she chose not to obey it.

Likewise, all children internalize very important aspects of the mother-child relationship. Mothers provide love, nurture, warmth, and the constant attention that all children need. Infants are born with constant recurring needs, and if those basic needs are met they grow up to understand what it means to build relationships based on trust. If the infant’s mother is largely emotionally absent, then the child does not learn to internalize a healthy representation of attachment to his mother, and later in life, to other people.

Picture a small infant, alone in a crib. Before long, the child is going to need attention, but for a variety of possible reasons, mother is not available. Maybe she is too preoccupied with other children, work, drugs, depression, etc., to give the child what he needs at that moment. If this becomes a pattern, the child will develop an internalized representation of mother that has actually been split into two opposite extremes. There will be the ‘Idealized Mother’ who is perfect and can meet all needs. This is an internalized mother image that can save the child from all the pain and anguish that comes from being isolated and alone.

On the other hand, there will also be the ‘Absent Mother.’ From the child’s perspective this other extreme internalized representation personifies all the negative aspects of the mother-child relationship. Mother is untrustworthy, hurtful, and very inconsistent in meeting the child’s needs. A child with this kind of internalized mother wound will grow up to idealize a relationship . . . until the first disruption, and then the idealized person will fall from the pedestal to turn into the person who is always absent.

You can see how a tremendous fear of abandonment would develop in a person with this kind of early attachment deficit.

Many men who have experienced this ‘splitting’ of their first relationship will find it hard to give up on the idea of an idealized woman who could meet all their emotional needs. They often feel cheated by women, who seem to change after the relationship becomes more emotionally intimate. They fail to see that this recurring pattern originates from within themselves rather than other people.

In more specific terms, they fail to see that it is not the woman who has changed as much as their perception of her. A woman who is a stranger can seem ideal, but as her humanity and frailties become known, she seems to become all that is personified in the ‘Absent Mother,’ along with the intolerable states of aloneness and the desire to find something to fill the void. This leaves the man with a deep sense of loss and abandonment, as well as vulnerability to use idealized sexual fantasy as a counterfeit for true attachment.

If the infant’s needs are largely met, then a different scenario unfolds. Around the age of three the child has internalized enough of the mother to start exploring around in the world without her. He may need to frequently return for attention or other needs, but he has internalized enough of the mother to be able to take her with him wherever he goes. He still feels loved even when she’s not in the same room. The good ‘love-object’ is constant and not going to go away. This also contributes to a stable and constant sense of self. It makes it possible to feel good about yourself, even when you fail.

The Hebrew word for ‘weaned’ actually means ‘satisfied.’ You are supposed to have it taken away after you have had enough. Unfortunately, many people have been left unsatisfied and still hungry from early bonding deficits. Searching for that ideal woman who will meet all our needs is a fruitless and hopeless endeavor based solely in a dysfunctional fantasy from the past.

The first woman you fell in love with was your mother. She set the stage for all subsequent relationships. It’s no wonder that those early wounds would impact your perception of women.

Daniel Jenkins, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in San Diego, California. He is also a Professor of Psychology at Point Loma Nazarene University.