The ‘Sweeper’

Steve Arterburn

Guys, have you ever noticed that when a woman is feeling stressed or angry, she’ll often call a friend? Have you also noticed when guys feel those same things, we usually do just the opposite?

When it comes to dealing with emotions, most men run for the hills’alone. We tend not to be as good as our female counterparts at facing our feelings, let alone talking about them. Most of us have been trained to treat our emotions like dirty laundry ‘ we don’t want anything to do with them.

When our emotions surface, our internal ‘Sweeper’ moves to action. The sweeper is that part of our subconscious who methodically and logically eliminates the threat that rogue emotions present. The ‘Sweeper’s’ job is to prohibit any situation from heating up too much and to sweep stray emotions back under the surface, where we think they belong. The Sweeper’s job description looks something like this:

  • Hide and mask anger
  • Internalize pressure
  • Bury losses
  • Deny wounds
  • Withdraw in the face of hard truth
  • Deflect mistakes
  • Blame others
  • Hide struggles
  • Push others away
  • Excuse me from feeling the hurts of others

Men, does this sound familiar? If so, I think it’s time you put your Sweeper up for review, and seriously consider cleaning out his office. The ‘Sweeper’s’ so-called services are, in fact, doing you a great disservice.

Coping Without Father

Stephen Arterburn

Beneath the surface of many strong, seemingly together, male exteriors are frightened little boys who are still desperately searching for affirmation and validation as a man. If we’re going to be honest, we should admit that’s where a lot of men live today. Many of us are unsure of how to carry off the masculine role, so we hide our fears behind masks of strength because that’s what our fathers did. But when the fa’ade is threatened on the job or at home, the cornered little boy lashes out in anger.

Whether it’s due to divorce, addiction, overwork, or the widespread crisis of fathers who’ve abdicated their roles to others, many of us have, in a very real way, lost our fathers. That’s the source of a great deal of confusion, fear, and anger many of us feel.

If we’re to move forward and experience the redemptive possibilities of God in the future, we must face up to our past. As with any loss in life, a man who experiences a sense of loss in his relationship with his father must grieve. Without proper, healthy grieving the inner hurt is like an open sore’vulnerable to repeated pain and infection, and detrimental to future health.

And the greatest asset a hurting, angry man can have in this situation is a faithful, loving friend. That is, another man who’ll understand him and stand with him as he, with God’s help, rediscovers his masculinity.