Grieving Personal Wounds

Bob Parkins

While recently at an Every Man’s Battle conference, the group I was facilitating had been processing the relationship between personal wounds and sexually acting-out. While it is often exciting to watch men reconnect with their hearts and risk vulnerability by sharing painful experiences, I encountered quite a bit of resistance from the group. Men often ask me the purpose of “rehashing” the past, “blaming” one’s parents, or they will give me a monologue on “choices” and “personal responsibility.” Their questions are fair and deserve answers, but to miss the issues behind them is to miss the heart of the man that asks.

Some wounds leave us so deeply injured that even looking at them can be terrifying. We are not only afraid of hurting again but we dread uncovering unknown fear. Sadly, we trade God’s healing touch for the certainty of the mundanely dulled and bruised heart. To us, this can feel better than the dread of having our hearts split open, spilling into our own consciousness or for others to see. But whether we acknowledge it or not, we still bleed from within. This is why our addictions have kept us in bondage for so many years. Willingly and sometimes happily, through acting-out, we turned our backs on our own hearts as they bleed from within. Acknowledging a wounded heart is not “rehashing,” “blaming,” or skirting “responsibility” for our own actions/transgressions. When we acknowledge our woundedness we are taking responsibility for our hearts, and that honors God.

Acknowledgement moves us closer to truly surrendering these wounds to God so He may begin to heal them. God patiently respects our unwillingness to acknowledge wounds, for a while. Fortunately he also loves us enough, that in our unwillingness, he allows crisis to bring us face-to-face with our wounds and our transgressions. For many men struggling with sexual addiction, a crisis of truth may take the form of having one’s transgressions exposed. While this is usually humiliating, I frequently remind couple’s of God’s graciousness and his heart for them. A loving father does not allow his son/daughter to continue in sin indefinitely without confrontation. Being brought to a crisis of truth is an opportunity and chance for redemption. For some, it may not be possible to reconcile a broken marriage, but for many others it is still possible. Regardless of what is lost, a chance is given to reconcile with God and with self. Reconciliation with self can never happen without an honest look at one’s wounds.

Healing wounds can start with resistance. Like any other feeling, resistance can tell you something about yourself. If you feel defensive or resistant about an issue, you may actually be afraid to address it. Your resistance may be telling you to dig deeper and deal with some specifics of an issue. It is not “rehashing,” but addressing the issue or wound. You may have a pattern of acting-out sexually to deal with the wound. If you are taking responsibility for your wound by addressing it honestly, you cannot be “blaming.” God will honor your efforts to take responsibility and will graciously see you through the process of healing your wounds, if you let him (Rom 8:28).

For more help in the battle for purity and integrity see Every Man’s Battle.
If you are married and have attended Every Man’s Battle, we encourage you and your wife to join us at our next New Life Weekend.

David Goes To Anger Management

James Hutchison

In our lives we face many things that block the goals we have set for ourselves. Sometimes, when our goals are unmet, we become angry. In many cases, anger is a by-product of our not getting our way. But there are times when our anger may be a secondary emotion that hides our true feelings. Back when we were children we learned to hide our emotions to spare ourselves from more pain. We learned that it was unacceptable to cry on the playground. ‘Suck it up,’ they said, or ‘Don’t cry, be a man.’ We were encouraged to, ‘Fight and defend yourself.’ We learned that the only emotion that was OK to express was anger. What that means is that many of us have been stuffing our feelings since we were five years old, with anger being the only emotion we are allowed to show.

In our recovery it is our responsibility to look back on our lives and see what self-preserving strategies we have been using since childhood to keep us from pain, strategies that are no longer useful and should now be abandoned. King David was faced with such a task. When David was on the run from Saul, he and his men had moved into the Desert of Maon, where they provided security for a man named Nabal. They watched over Nabal’s flocks and shepherds to see that no harm came to them. It was common practice for the owner of the sheep to pay for this protection when it was shearing time. At the appropriate time, David sent ten young men down to see Nabal about the payment due. Having been a shepherd himself, he was well versed in the business practices of the day and knew the proper way to ask for his payment. I think that David felt safe being back in the fields with the sheep, because it was a reminder of the days of his youth. Judging from the wording in the Bible, he also probably felt that there was a kind of father-son relationship with Nabal.

However, Nabal did not see it that way. He insulted David and his servants, and told them that they were not even worthy of bread and water. The young men returned to David and told him what had happened. When David heard what was said, he turned to his men and said, ‘Put on your swords!’ So they put on their swords and David put on his. David was really angry with Nabal, and was about to show him how angry he was! David said, ‘He has paid me back evil for good. May God deal with me ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him.’

David felt and expressed anger in this situation, but deep down he may really have been hurt.

This was not the first time he had been rejected by a father figure. When David was a young man, he was not even invited to the sacrifice and consecration by Samuel, an event that David’s father and brothers attended. It was not until Samuel asked for David that he was summoned and anointed as the next king. Nothing is mentioned about how David must have felt to find out that he had not been invited to the sacrifice, and we have to wonder if this was typical of the treatment that he received from his father and brothers. Then, after David became the son-in-law of Saul, he expected to enjoy his status as an adopted son. Instead, he soon found out that, again, a father figure rejected him in his life. So, we should not be surprised by his reaction to Nabal’s rejection. To us, and those who were with him, it seems extreme. But maybe David was reacting to the pain of again not feeling valued as a son or a man.

As counselors, we look for this kind of exaggerated reaction as a sign that something else–something deeper–is at work. The feelings that we stuff, such as feelings of worthlessness, incompetence, rejection, and the disappointment from our inability to please those we love, including God, may be buried beneath the anger. So when you, or your family, are suffering from your anger, take time to reflect on what is really going on in your life. Look closely to see what the real cause of your anger is. Then enjoy the grace that Jesus freely gives. Forgive yourself and others who have hurt you in the past, and experience the healing of your soul.

For more help on Anger see Boiling Point.
Also, please prayerfully consider joining our Anger group at the next New Life Weekend.

Finding Ms. Right

Sam Fraser

If you read Bob Parkin’s article, Healthy Dating in Recovery, you will find that he gave some important insight for single guys and dating regarding accountability, boundaries, and intimacy. Continuing along those same lines, I’d like to give you a couple clues to finding Ms. Right.

There is a reason God says wait until marriage for sexual intercourse. Among the myriad of reasons, one sure-fire reason is that it is for our own protection. As men, we are often identified as having two brains, (I think most of you know, and the rest of you can guess, where the second brain is, right?). Not sexualizing a relationship is the absolute best remedy for keeping our judgment clear and our priorities straight. But if that bridge is crossed prematurely, our reasoning gets all discombobulated and our judgment becomes blinded. Guys, sex changes everything. Once sexual activity is introduced into the equation, we lose an important part of our sensibility. Our sexual desire, or lust, can become the primary motivation for pursuing Ms. Right Now instead of Ms. Right! How much you desire her body has nothing to do with her being right as a marital partner for life. Don’t be blinded by that second brain. Just because it feels good, doesn’t make it true.

Let’s face it guys, sex is overrated as the answer to all of our problems. God’s plan for finding Ms. Right is much broader than how she makes us feel sexually. If that becomes the main focus, disappointment will soon follow. Sex was never intended as the be all, cure all. Once sex falls short as the answer to all of a man’s problems, some men will turn to sexual addiction as a cheap alternative to the real deal.

So, then, what is the real deal? How do we find Ms. Right? What is she like and how will we recognize her?

A much better criterion for the long haul is to develop a deep friendship with someone that you find attractive–attractive being the operative word, which is something much better and more noble than mere lust. Over and over I have encountered this common factor in successful marriages. When the husband says that his wife has become his best friend, take it to the bank.

Being married to your best friend will provide the emotional spark that can be fostered and kept alive with time and effort. This will keep the connection strong. If you cannot be vulnerable and share your deepest needs, dreams and fears with your girlfriend now, then seriously ask yourself why not? If it isn’t happening now, marriage will not cure it.

One thing that is a common theme for Every Man’s Battle participants is they have a secret life. Having a secret life is the opposite of having marital intimacy. A man who gets married without having the skill or courage to disclose important feelings and thoughts is sure to feel very lonely and isolated. So it is crucial to develop an openness during dating. If you can’t open up now, openness just won’t magically occur once you are married. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of having a woman with whom you can develop an intimate friendship. With that said, here are a couple of key factors for evaluating potential Ms. Rights:

1) How well do you share your feelings with her now? Is she safe and trustworthy or does she bring out your dirty laundry and shame you with it already? It needs to be discussed and resolved. If she can’t be a person who is safe and trustworthy then it is better to find that out now rather than later. Most women desire that kind of connection, and nine times out of ten, she will be accepting of our fear and shame, and will reject or humiliate us when we disclose them to her.

2) Take some risks and share feelings that are painful. Women respect men who have feelings and share them, particularly feelings that are hard to share, or that have previously been kept secret. From a male’s perspective, we don’t place such a premium upon that need; so if you can develop that with her in intimate friendship, then you are well on the way.

The interesting thing is that developing that intimate emotional bond with your future wife now will naturally translate into greater romantic intimacy later. Then sexual fulfillment will take care of itself.

The greatest testimony to this is that older couples with secure relationships are far more likely to have highly gratifying sex lives. That is because those couples have special bonds of deep friendship and devoted love for one another, bonds that have been built and strengthened because they have become best friends to one another. Think about it…