All men have someone very close to them that they’d trust with their lives. This same person, however, struggles to tell them the truth. This “someone” is actually themselves! This self-directed deception is called denial. A man in denial is unable to see the truth about himself. In other words, denial is a lie he tells himself, and after he tells it, he clings to it and believes it.
In his book Healing is a Choice, Steve Arterburn describes the misery of denial:
“The big lie is that if you just act as if the hard realities are not there, they will eventually go away. This lie is not something you keep up in your head or down in your heart. This lie becomes a way of life. You live it every day, and it keeps you from a life that is full of meaning, purpose, and connection.”
Everyone struggles with denial in some form. It blurs one’s vision of many things: troubled or destructive relationships, sins they’re unwilling to acknowledge, overly optimistic goals, financial irresponsibility, physical illness, unresolved character issues, self-righteousness, and any number of situations they’d rather not see clearly.
Denial is so dangerous because it not only blinds someone to the problems they’re trying to avoid, but it also blinds them to the consequences that avoidance creates. The moment they open their eyes and see things clearly, accurately, and truthfully, they’ll also see the troubling results of their denial.
If men seriously desire spiritual renewal and freedom from denial, they must bring all of their life under the mighty hand of God’s grace. They must especially bring those areas they’ve closed off and the lies they’ve convinced themselves are true. They’re likely to fight with discouragement, accompanied by urges to seek diversions and other ways to feel good. But these are cop-outs: denial in disguise. This is where connection with other men is vitally important. A man needs other men around him to spot the blind spots of denial in himself, or the lies will continue.
This new way of life is a challenge for many men, but with the help of God and others, it is attainable. Such a life allows the recognition of the truth to spur a man to repentance, and then, to a joyful, grateful response to God of service to Him. Joining a Sustained Victory Group or a Life Recovery Group can help a man find the connection and truth that he needs to live a life free of denial.