Courage

I’ve talked to some courageous men lately.

If you do a little Bible homework, you’ll find courage/courageous used more than 50 different ways. It speaks of the wind, the heart, stones, the will, rationality, and boldness to face fear.

What I mean by courage is the bold willingness to face the darkest parts of themselves (and sometimes others). It takes guts (along with a healthy dose of desperation!) to look in the mirror and face the man we are. To compare ourselves to Christ and ask where we fall short, and then invite his correction? Not for the faint of heart.

In this past week I’ve talked to men who have looked rejection, failure, insecurity, loneliness, abuse, addiction, shame, disappointment, a forest-fire-charred family tree and raging wives in the face and stood firm. They’ve held their own pain, and their wives. They’ve held their kids faces and reassured them “daddy isn’t leaving”. They have tossed in the towel and moments later gotten back in the ring for extra rounds, taking Ali style jabs thrown from the sinful flesh of the old, sinful man they are toe-to-toe with.

And in every re-engagement, every surrender to the process, every decision to take their finger off the nuclear button, Jesus is made known. He is glorified. His strength shines through.

If you’re at critical mass reading this, I reassure you there are men fighting the good fight. If you’re dialing in the codes and ready to blow the whole thing up – reconsider. If you’re still in the affair – end it. Porn stash – delete it. Online persona – erase it all. Women’s underwear – throw them away. Inanimate objects – trash them. It doesn’t have to go this way any longer.

 

Angerization

I wanted to take a minute to talk about angerizing emotions. For men who struggle with sexual integrity issues, there are usually 2 ways emotions get dealt with – Sexualizing or Angerizing.

When the integrity issues or addiction are/is active, emotions that should get appropriately felt and expressed are stuffed and stunted. Instead, they end up getting turned into sexual energy. This happens in the form of fantasy, masturbation, the pornography viewed, the women flirted with, or the escort ads perused. It is especially true of what we would typically categorize as negative feelings – hurt, fear, failure, shame, disappointment, loneliness, rejection, boredom, injustice (feeling falsely accused) or feeling misunderstood. It can also happen with positive emotions too- some guys act out as a reward mechanism, in effect not knowing the experience of healthy celebration and recognition.

During active addiction or struggle, the sexualization provides a relief; a temporary reroute of the emotions, diminishing their intensity and thus the perceived negative impact. For some guys the acting out doesn’t take enough of the edge off, so the residual emotional churn becomes irritability, frustration and general rudeness.

Often though, when the addiction ends and someone stops acting out, the release valve is removed and the emotion gets turned into serious anger. Sometimes it is intense – rageful, out of control, scary. It can even scare him! When that low level anger is present, the angry feelings are familiar. But when that’s not the case, the newfound rageful experience can feel like a monster trying to escape. The chemical, endorphin release of acting out provides a soothing or calming effect, but without it the anger can be raw.

Don’t let the anger be your lead, let it be your guide. When you feel angry, it is telling you there is more to the story. Your heart is trying to feel and express something, and likely longing to connect with God and others.

Bottom Line

A quick thought to ponder-

What’s your bottom line purpose for today?

What is that baseline commitment that if you meet it, whether or not your day went well, whether or not you performed as a zero or a hero, you can hit the sack with peace?

For me, that is honoring God by being authentic, transparent and speaking truth. If I can function today living out who God has called me to be I can rest. If I tell the truth, both of my life and the life of Jesus, I can rest. If I can be vulnerable and avoid masks and pretenses that portray I can handle life by my own strength, then I can rest knowing I’ve done all I can do.

If we’ll chase after that bottom line commitment today, with all our strength and energy, it’s unlikely we’ll look at porn, go to a strip club, have an(other) affair or be tangled up in the barbed wire of our own egos.

You can do it.