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.

Cultivating God-honoring Friendships with the Opposite Sex

David Mackey

What are your goals with the opposite sex? Think about it. Go back to the beginning when you first started wanting that girlfriend. What was your goal? Has it changed since those early years?

Over the years, a number of not so different goals have been presented to me as I have talked with various guys about that elusive girlfriend. In fact, I am quite aware that MY goals were most often like those ‘various guys.’ Most of those goals had an underlying theme ‘ ME.

Oh, let me clarify, these were NOT the goals presented to the girls’these were the true goals that come out of the heart’ often presented to my buddies but sometimes my secret. The goals were about ‘GETTING’- for ME, a girlfriend so that I might have some kind of status. Sometimes the goal was about ‘GETTING’- for ME, to a certain ‘base’. Still, other times, the goal was about ‘GETTING’- for ME, someone to stroke my ego.

Believe it or not, sometimes my goal seemed a little more proper or even spiritual. I was looking for the woman God had for me ‘ actually was ‘GETTING’- for ME.

Always it seems to come down to goals that are self or ME centered. The girls often were an object for my pleasure, or for my ego, or for my comfort through life.

The title of this article has a very different goal, GOD-HONORING FRIENDSHIPS. God-honoring friendships are probably much closer to what God wishes to see in our modern day relationships.

What would life be like if our goals were really about FRIENDSHIP and NOT ABOUT GETTING FOR ME? For many there would be seen an entirely new way of relating.

Friendships have different levels of intimacy then acquaintances. Within our friendships there might be a wide range of depths of intimacy. But, in friendships there seem to be some basic foundational elements.

In The Pursuit of Intimacy by Dr. David Ferguson and Dr. Chris Thurman some of the necessary ingredients found in intimate relationships are: AFFECTIONATE CAREGIVING, VULNERABLE COMMUNICATION, MUTUAL GIVING, and JOINT ACCOMPLISHMENT. In the book the writers are focused on building deeper intimacy in marriage. The ingredients however, are found also in friendships and they just might be helpful when incorporating them as some of the facets or goals in Cultivating God-honoring Friendships with the Opposite Sex.

Friendships often start in one of these areas. If you have ever worked at a summer camp, been on a missions trip, worked on a school or work project with others of either sex, you may recall that a levels of friendship often develops. This is because you are JOINTLY ACCOMPLISHING something together. This working on the same goal is a friendship builder. If the goal has spiritual elements to it, sometimes the friendships seem to be deeper.

Friendships sometimes start when one person is hurting and another comes alongside to give care and comfort. If this is from the opposite sex, this care by its very nature is affectionate, even if it does not involve touch. Ferguson and Thurman call this AFFECTIONATE CAREGIVING and it seems to forge and cultivate friendships.

Friendships sometimes develop when there is a pattern of MUTUAL GIVING. One person gives and the response is to give back. The giving can start as external such as material gifts, but in friendships it usually ends up more internal, as in giving of oneself in actions and deeds.

Friendships sometimes start and or deepen when we listen to a friend’s heart and give to a friend the story of our own heart. This might be called VULNERABLE COMMUNICATION. To share our hearts: our beliefs and values, our pains and fears, our wounds and scars, makes us quite vulnerable. When we share and someone listens and accepts us a deep friendship can be built. Likewise when we listen to someone else and accept them, they will be drawn to us as a friend.

Back to our goal. What if our goal was to actually cultivate friendships’ with both sexes. If some goals in our life were to care about others so that we give to them affectionately, friendships would be cultivated. If among our life goals was the goal to give to others, not just when they are in need but just to say I am thinking of you, or I care about you, friendships would be cultivated. If our life goals included communicating on the heart level with people in our lives, friendships would be cultivated. If we worked, served, accomplished side-by-side with others, friendships would be cultivated.

If we keep it about me and what I get, people will be pushed away and/or unhealthy relationships will likely be established. If we focus on others, building up others, encouraging others, serving others, seeking the hearts of others then God-honoring friendships will likely be cultivated with both sexes.

Knowing the ROCK; Knowing TRUE Intimacy in Recovery: Part 4

David Mackey

If you are new to the reading of these articles here is a short review: Just as false intimacy was part of what helped maintain our addiction, TRUE intimacy will strengthen our recovery. So this series will look at 4 of the many facets of intimacy which can be found in an intimate relationship with God AND with others.

This is our design: to have intimacy with both God and Others. In the Psalms, David equated knowing God as his Rock, Refuge, and Fortress with knowing God intimately. So far we have looked at the idea of being free from shame and being listened to with acceptance and understanding as pieces, deep pieces, of having an ‘In-To-Me-See’ relationship.

In verse 3 of Psalm 31, David, reveals yet another facet of intimacy. I can’t say that I have ever thought of being lead or guided as a piece of intimacy. For David it was. If you think about it awhile you might conclude that after someone listens ‘In-To” someone; after perhaps seeing another’s shame and vulnerability, then leading/ guiding them seems like another part of an intimate relationship.

In his book Pursuit of Intimacy, David Ferguson identifies one of the ‘foundational blocks’ of intimacy as ‘joint accomplishment.’ He contends that in intimate marital relationships a couple accomplishes things together. So working together to buy and/or build a home together, raise children together, complete grad school together, etc. contributes to a deeper level of intimacy in couples.

Think about the intimacy that develops with your Band of Brothers as you lead and guide each other through the battle. Think about the intimacy that develops with God as you listen to His Word and His Spirit leads and guides you through the battle. There is comfort and security found in being lead and guided within a truly intimate relationship. So for David intimacy was not just a passive event in which he was listened to. He knew that as God listened He was also guiding David, preparing him for perhaps more of the same battles David had dealt with throughout his life.

This is indeed a messed up world. We have found a common set of struggles among men who struggle with sexual impurity. Father wounds, mother wounds, abuse wounds, neglect wounds and many other past issues, very often affect us today. Present issues, wounds, and struggles are often magnified by our past issues. So we need guidance, we need preparation, we need tools for battle. Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress, i.e. having an ‘In-To Me-See’ relationship with God will not just bring healing from past battles but preparation for future battles. False Intimacy didn’t/doesn’t prepare us for anything. Rather it weakened us. We sought comfort in false intimacy and it gave us none. We sought to rid ourselves of some of our shame only to find we were beaten down by deeper and deeper shame. We sought excitement and even happiness only to find terror and depression. If anything in us was at all satisfied with acting out, then other needs and desires of our life became damaged even more.

God invites into True Intimacy with Himself and with others. Part of true intimacy actually leads us, guides us, and prepares us for the Battle. We are not in this alone. Perhaps the most famous of Psalms says even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death He is with us. What a blessing!! It would seem that if we know God as our Rock, Refuge, and Fortress He doesn’t only walk beside us through the battle, the valley, but he leads us and guides us through. More Blessing!! This is intimacy with God. And it is what exists in an intimate relationship with others. Someone listening to the cry of our heart, just listening and understanding and accepting.

So we find another piece of a wonderful invitation God gives us through David! God invites us to be lead and guided while sitting in the Rock, Refuge, and Fortress! Intimacy: Knowing God as your Rock, Refuge and Fortress. What will recovery be like knowing that God is there to lead and guide you through this battle. His Word is not a list of rules’ it intimately leads and guides us through the battles. In your recovery pursue the path of true intimacy with all your being. Remember, this is not a command from God but rather, it is an invitation. Intimacy with God and others is what we were created for and it will bring real fulfillment and a strong recovery. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5