Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Worth of Your Word

 

First off, I do apologize for being very late with my next blog episode. Simply put, it just kept getting pushed further down in order of priorities, but I did promise certain people that I would be consistent on my episodes so after some serious conviction, I’m on it.


So what’s the deal with us not meeting our commitments or promises? I’ve been thinking about it and thought I would bring it up here because in many ways, it seems that we have put aside how important our word can be. I am noticing more often than not, that it is a growing problem in society. I hadn’t really paid attention to it until recently when I was to meet someone for a BBQ lunch but wound up eating alone. As I sat there, I began to work through some thoughts that enabled me to begin remembering how many times people are late or no shows, which led to other things that seem to be in a pattern of lateness. Restaurant food, flights, meetings at work, weddings, yes and even church service that goes on and on. These things I believe we understand will be late time and time again. Heck, I’m good for a few times of being late too. One really doesn’t think about it too much on how often we’re late on our commitments to people.  We make them all the time and from that point pick and choose which ones we do first, second, and so on.


In the greater context of life, the word “late”, is a small word with four letters and perhaps lacks the real and passionate definition it really deserves in our lives. So, because we may not give it too much credence, it may seem like a “no big deal” thing to us but, are we missing how huge it may be to someone else? Someone that is waiting on you to meet that commitment or promise you made to them. As an example, if I make plans to meet with someone at 10 a.m. but don’t watch the clock or allow something else to distract me, I will definitely be late. Being late is not something new because sometimes you’re late, sometimes someone else is late, people are late for various reasons, and I honestly believe that it is unavoidable. I put context to this because it can be frustrating, couldn’t it? Especially when you have a limited amount of time for a meeting or perhaps a deadline that is looming, but you cannot get your work done until someone else does theirs, but guess what? They’re late! It seems to be the way of life now and we’ve drifted away from what is right, especially when it comes to having made a commitment to someone. Keep in mind, I understand someone will be late, occasionally, because some things are beyond some people’s control which causes them to be late. Here’s the key word…sometimes it happens. It shouldn’t be the norm but he exception.


I’d like to share about two guys I meet with often. One of them, I would say you can set your clock to because he’s consistently late. I mean like 9 times out of 10 he’s late. I also have another buddy who you can set your clock to as well but for the total opposite reason. This young man thinks that 10-15 minutes early is on time, and on time is late! Gosh…how can two typical young men be so drastically different? All in all, the fact that I enjoy meeting with these guys simply allows me to adjust my expectations and knowing this has given me the opportunity to plan the meetings accordingly. It’s not a problem for me, but I keep thinking about the folks who have been promised something by them and are expecting something that means a lot to them. I put myself in that mix thinking how many times have I committed or promised something to someone that is waiting on me? I am learning to dig deep in search of any possible missed opportunities so I can rectify them as soon as possible.


I well understand that everyone has an opinion on the definition of what being late means. In addition, I also understand that there may be a difference of opinions on how we meet our commitments. That’s a given, I think, but consider this, what if we stepped outside of ourselves and our definition to a viewpoint less considered, and perhaps more important than our own. The importance of what our word means to someone else. When we commit to or promise someone something, how do we meet that commitment? How do we make that promise come true? We have different means that we display it, talk about it, and expect it from others. This is not bad, just different and we do the best we can as it affects us or others.


 It is said that every man commits to or promises at least 10-12 things in one day. If that is true, I have to assume that each of these fits into categories of priority. Some are very important and others not so much. We may fulfil the important ones but what about the minor ones? To the person you committed to, even though minor to you, it may mean something major to them! Is this person of less value than the one you made great effort to meet your commitment? I would like to say that I hope not, but the reality of it is that in our hearts maybe these two individuals are of equal value, but here’s the deal, when we don’t meet our commitment, our promise, our words begin to lose value to those whose promise was not met. Obviously, in our hearts we don’t feel that way but what we do not control is how our words, met or unmet, make that person feel. What we display with our actions after we commit or promise. We can of course apologize for our error but given enough of these “misses”, our words become ineffective and at worst, unbelievable. It is a bad situation when your words have no value to someone, when you or your name come up to that individual and all they can think about are the let downs you gave them. No more trust, no more calling upon you when help is needed, and then slowly their attention and care from you and towards you, fades like the day into night. 


I grew up in a time when a man’s word meant everything. A time when fist fights broke out because someone was called a liar. When sometimes words and a handshake was all it took to complete a deal. A trust and bond that men treasured and honored. What happened? Where has the virtue gone? I still see it in some of our young men today but sadly, I haven’t seen it in others. I cannot give that to anyone. I can’t give honor to someone that doesn’t want it or perhaps doesn’t really know what it is. Perhaps they never had anyone display it to him in life, perhaps dishonor has been a way of life for him from very young and that’s all they know. They don’t know another way. But because this is something that can be learned, it’s never too late. All it takes is a desire to not only be valued, but to value others. To want your word to mean something to someone, to everyone. That when you speak, people that know you, know that you are a man of integrity, honor, and whatever you say you will do, you will do to completion. That’s a man of integrity. How can we walk together to achieve that for us? Someone wrote this quote that I have treasured in my heart, “people may not remember a lot of what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.  I want that for me and even more, I want that for you too!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Looking For The Why...

I am reminded all too frequently about the bad in the world by the never-ending issues that people face, many of which are displayed on social media, network television and the local radio stations. It’s all around and there is absolutely no way any of this can be avoided. This has been a topic of discussion by many people, groups, and even within many organizations and yet, no one seems to have the answer as to why this is. In my small but intimate men’s group, this has also invaded our peace and comfort by raising its evil head by something that has happened to one of us, all of us, or to someone we know. Maybe it’s just a news story we come across somewhere and we discuss it during our time together.  All around the world, bad things happen to good people…and then seemingly, life goes on.


Let me just say at the onset of this blog, I don’t have the answer to this either, but I do love to dig deep into the occurrence and at the very least try to understand as much reasoning as possible to get a better handle on it. I look around me at family and friends and I am greatly aware of some of the disappointments in life for many of them. Perhaps a death of a loved one, loss of jobs, divorce, abuses that occur to the elderly and children, incurable diseases, and so on and so on. So much destruction of people and of families. Once this question is on the table, it is soon followed by:

How do we cope with this?

How can a loving God allow this to continue?

How do I handle an issue I have no control over, like facing the decision to withhold artificial life from someone I love because they will never come out of this incurable sleep?

How do I answer that for them? For me? For my family?

 

In his book entitled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Rabbi Harold Kushner writes this uncanny statement, “We could bear nearly any pain or disappointment if we thought there was a reason behind it, a purpose, to it.” Seriously?? This quote is even difficult to rationalize for me even if I knew there was a reason behind a major disappointment. I do know this though, in the middle of pain and hurt, there is a God in heaven that knows all, and I feel that if I ask Him the question, He may choose to allow me to know the why, but I also recognize that if He chooses not to let me know, He has a reason for it. I guess because I do have a faith that believes in a great and good God, the concept of knowing or not knowing answers comes through with a comfort and peace that I do not get by trying to make sense of Rabbi Kushner’s quote. 

 In the time between 2003 and 2004, my wife was diagnosed with a form of cancer that had potential to become life threatening. We had experienced adversity and big life challenges before, but nothing like this. This was devastating to us. We were in a new city, new jobs, no family or close friends that we could take comfort with. It was just us! We never really had any illusions of immunity to the hurts in the world but it was like in one swift kick, our lives were upended and we had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, nothing to cling to except our love for each other and our faith in our God. That’s it, nothing around us for hundreds of miles so it seemed and yet, after the initial shock, we both settled in to trust and believe there was a reason. Somewhere and for some unknown reason this happened. Honestly, I was all up in God’s face asking, “why did this happen?” or “Why us?” Yes, I admit I was a wreck, and I was just the husband but when I observed my wife, I stood breathlessly admiring her as there was a peace on her face that just seemed to smile. When people asked her if she struggled with such a diagnosis, she simply and characteristically responded with, “yes in the beginning, but now I just know that God has this under control, and it will turn out for the best. All things work out for a greater good.” For several months following the diagnosis, we lived with the worst of thoughts and lived with tremendous uncertainty. Somewhere along this journey, it all dissipated, like a mist when the sun rises, it just away. Since then, we’ve never looked back.


 That’s not a shout of victory as it is more acknowledgment that even when we were facing a bleak challenge, we were given the peace needed during this storm. Again, not that we are super Christians or the best of believers, but at that time we trusted Him, knowing it could mean that we would not be together for the rest of our lives. I know it sounds weird, crazy, and maybe even considered religious but it’s not. As honestly as I can express it, we just carried it forward in faith and at one point even evolved to leaving the diagnosis behind and rarely spoke about it. 


Here's the thing…when we go through things in our lives, particularly bad or negative, we are accustomed to knowing the reason why we are experiencing these things. For all intents and purposes, we seem to be a people that seeks meaning and “answers” to any questions we may have. We feel like all things must have a purpose for being because our curious minds do not adjust well or make sense of random or unexplainable occurrences. We want, no, we demand answers and until we have them, we will use every breath we can draw, trying to peel back the onion layers of any issue. I get tired just thinking about all that energy I wasted to only wind up back at the beginning of said issues. I’ve even spoken to people that feel that they are being punished for, only God knows, what they have done in their past. A self-proclaiming guilty verdict and we accept it because it makes sense. Never mind that there was no court attorney, or judge, or any for or against testimony, no jury, just our own minds that cite internally, “guilty as charged”! Now this verdict makes sense, doesn’t it? We accept it because we are starved for a reason, a purpose, an announcement that I am going through this because of this or that. My mind and brain are now comforted, now fully functional, and deal with the sentence given. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that I came across the reason the adversity came into my life.


Sounds crazy right? Yet, we live it, do it, and proclaim it most of the time. The truth of the matter is that bad things happen to us plain and simple. Some have meaning or reason and others don’t but because we are emotionally charged people, we feel like we can make sense of these tragedies by giving them a reason, a meaning, a label that absolutely makes all the sense in the world to us. If we were honest, it really doesn’t, but we are comfort creatures so if this provides comfort, we’re in.

 

Now, after all of this let me ask you this question because I really want to raise your awareness of the issue again…. now that something has happened to you how will you deal with? You cannot just give it a name and move on. In a manner of speaking, since you named it, you birthed it and now it really comes alive in your life. Hmmm…just knowing a reason or purpose for what has happened isn’t enough is it? And so here comes another onion to peel.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Cost of Friendship

 Sitting in a coffee shop waiting for my friend to show up so we can catch up from a seemingly long and unwanted hiatus, I look up as more and more people walk in together with someone and my curious nature kicks in which allows me to wonder if they are friends or spouses or perhaps they’re just meeting to discuss some business. The truth is that because I get to overhear some of their conversation it provides clues so I can ascertain the relationship. It’s kind of like a game to me and sometimes I do guess correctly but sometimes I don’t…oh, sometimes I am way wrong! Being a fan of old fashioned friendship, it stirs me up to see people laughing, talking, and enjoying one another in what seems to be close sincere relationships and my heart is warmed for the moment. I love hearing people act on their friendships in the ways that only they know the deeper meanings both the giver and receiver. Yes, call me old fashion but this is true friendship the way it is supposed to be.


With this being said, it brings to mind what J. R. Miller wrote,

“To become another’s friend in the true sense is to take the other into such close, living fellowship that his life and ours are knit together as one. It is far more than a pleasant companionship in bright, sunny hours. A genuine friendship is entirely unselfish. It seeks no benefit or good of its own. It does not love—for what it may receive—but for what it may give. Its aim is “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

This extremely personal and deeply felt definition comes alive as I continue to observe those around me and best I can, listen to bits and pieces of their words back and forth, with their looking at each other or the occasional glance in a different direction, but engaged none the less.

Let’s make it personal, meaning let’s bring it home to you as someone’s friend. Are you able to be the friend the definition describes? Can your friend say you are “that” friend? If so, you are truly one in a million, but if not, I ask you, “why not”? Hear my heart, I don’t judge you one way or the other, but I am just curious as to your personal assessment of being a friend.

I can say this, whether or not you feel you’re being the best possible friend to someone, no one can say that it’s right or wrong. You are who you are and the same goes for your friend but I would like for you to imagine what the possibility could be if each person in a relationship were able to be exactly like the verse above states? Wow, each trying to outserve the other to the point that love was the driving power behind that friendship. What a difference that would make in you and in others. It would literally change the way you do life because to have this for any friend means you are capable of having this for your spouse, if married, your children and the rest of the family. The world in its present state would be impacted dramatically. And we all would be the better for it.


So…being or becoming a friend means what exactly? Seriously…have you ever wondered how good friendships come about? Do you have any deep friendships with anyone? Let me tell you that this kind of friend doesn’t just pop up overnight. Sold friends get there in many ways, many  experiences together, where laughter is a huge part and equally, where tears are shed together. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider while working out or working on the kind of friend you may or may not be. True friendship is a very personal thing because it takes commitment and this means that it demands a “not give up” attitude and willingness to stay the course, regardless of what may come. Keep in mind, commitment and convenience are two separate entities and the difference between the two is that commitment is an effort outward and convenience is an effort inward. Don’t miss that point because the level of friend you are or want to be is founded on one or the other. Again, accepting one or the other does not mean that there is a right one and a wrong one, but it does mean that the quality of what you are looking for is going to be founded on either one of them.

Friendships can be inconvenient, meaning it can and will cost you your personal convenience at times. It also requires spending time with someone in order to build the friendship from scratch so to speak, but it turns out to be well worth it. Consider that the effort you put into this friendship means that you invest authentically and intimately with another. You spill your guts out when needed, listen when required without trying to “fix” a situation. In other words, if you cannot share from the deepest parts of who you are then chances are that you’ll just prepare a shallow relationship and never move beyond that. Then there is wanting to add your love to the mix, knowing all along that it can be taken advantage of, rejected, and even tossed aside but any thing that is good has to be founded in love. Loving someone not for what they can do for you or give you, but because you are willing to hand it to another person. The way you love speaks more about the quality of friend you are than the quality of someone else.


All in all, friendship, whether it is one or many, needs all the aforementioned components. It needs love and time in particular to nurture it, to grow in a healthy manner, and to deeply enrich not only you but the person that is receiving this from you. Next time you sit for coffee with a friend pay close attention to your interactions, your attention, and ask yourself if this person feels how much you inject your life into theirs. The challenge could be to even ask what kind of friend he believes you are. Request honesty and if they share, don’t be offended if it is not what you would have liked to hear. Likewise, if it is good, take that nugget and choose to enrich it, choose to be better at it, and choose to love that friend even more. If you are already a great friend in all areas, congratulations, you are in a group of people that is rare and tough to get into. Be proud of this and be authentic with your friends. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Trust: Building The Bridge Of Giving & Receiving

 

Trust…what a word! A word that I would define as believing in someone that has honor, is courageous, respectful, and with much integrity. And yet, it seems to be noticeably absent today. Maybe even becoming extinct like the dinosaurs of a world long ago. Trust is, in my opinion, definitely absent from our government, our schools, communities, and yes, even our own families and social circles. There appears to be a tamping down of trust almost to the point of losing it altogether…in our world, but mostly in ourselves. Trust seems to be replaced by the suitable colors of personal likes and dislikes. Forsaking trust for empty words, for the pleasure of us and what we desire ourselves to be. But make no mistake about it, when we say something, but it never seems to be fulfilled, it turns out like the old American Indian saying, “You speak with forked tongue”. They had every reason to say this since they were promised much but delivered so much less.    


Let me ask this, “are we trustworthy?” Can someone say of you and me, “you can’t trust him! He says some good words but when it comes right down to it, he never comes through”? Do we see the flaw in this? Do we see, and understand, how this opinion has been credited to us as a person? It’s not good, it’s not healthy, and it’s certainly not who you or I desire to be. Or…maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe as long as I think I’m okay and good, that justifies it. Remember that a self-sustaining view point has the potential to cover up the fault thereby providing a well-liked opinion of self so that one is able to say, “ Oh well” or “it’s not me, it’s them” and never calling into question the distinct possibility that we can be at fault. Or, at the very least have a part in this. And even then, we can lead off with, “But….” And this is where we let slide our mistake for a greater good. My greater good.

In all fairness though, I think there’s value in taking a deep look at why we trust so readily and why sometimes we trust poorly. Most importantly, what we can do about it. Trust has been a virtue that since young we have been conditioned to seek from others. For example, we learn to feed from mom, to look to parents for care and nurturing and to learn the value of trust in other people. Even though parents never verbalized that we needed to trust them, we did. It is part of the innate qualities of a baby, finely tuned as they grow and mature. I guess one could say that it is a societal quality but at the same time it is that same society that squelches it or perhaps blindly places the distrust in its place. Trust in others is a daily occurrence for all of us and we really don’t conscientiously pay attention that we are doing it. When we drive on our public roads we trust others, when we order food, go to the doctor, and so on and so on. However, we don’t wake up that day and think that before I go out for a drive, I am going to psych myself so I can trust others. We just don’t do that, we just jump in the car and go. Trust permeates our life in so many ways yet, we rarely consider it until someone lets us down, when it’s personal and hurtful.

Well then, how do we amplify our ability to trust or to use it to serve us better? Actually, there’s not a whole lot we can do about that except to place it out in front knowing that we can trust and choose to trust but be cognizant that it can be broken, and it can be painful. Why would anyone want to do this intentionally? Here’s the deal, we can’t ever truly be certain of another’s motivations, or their intentions. Because we don’t have this knowledge, we are subject to whatever actions they may choose to do for us or to us. Simply said, the best we can do is to choose between trusting someone or just settle on not trusting anyone…ever. We may think we are protecting ourselves and fending off any chance of being disappointed, but the bigger picture is that we are missing out on the many blessings we may receive on all the love and benefits we can receive from other people.  

All in all, the best thing we can do, in my opinion, is to believe that the good in others outweighs the bad; look for that good instead of focusing on the bad. Be willing to risk because all good things involve risk in some form or fashion and when we get hurt, focus on a larger picture of what may have happened instead of being self-focused and only see this in our way. The author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, wrote, “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. When we have a bigger perspective, we may be able to understand better the reasons we get hurt, the reasons, not the person. Understanding the actions or words of others can diminish our hurt somewhat and what this may do is maintain a relationship because we learn to see the personal value behind the hurt instead of placing an enormous fault on the person. Either way we become winners in life and although hurt will come many times in our lifetime, we can see right through it and retain the intimacy of trust in someone else.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Walk With Me

 

When you see me smiling and it appears that all is great, ask if it really is.

When you see me walking alone, ask if you can walk with me.

When you see me crying ask if you can cry with me.

Why do you have to visibly see me to ask a question?

What you cannot see is that I’m dying on the inside but not on the outside.

What you cannot see is that I am moments away from the next life.

Oh, but what if you could just really see me?      Unknown

 

My heart breaks when I hear someone’s story of crying out in hurt and pain but never really saying anything to anyone. I wonder…why? Why didn’t this person say something to someone that maybe could have helped. Why didn’t they step up and say they are in need and at that very moment my spirit quickens me asking why am I just blaming the person needing help? Why do I place all responsibility on the one person so emotionally weak that they cannot possibly know what to do?

 I feel like a terrible person, like a person without a conscience that looks the other way when coming across someone in need. I walk through a range of emotions trying to fortify myself by remembering all the good things I’ve done for people. All the good that perhaps I may have provided to someone at some point. And I realize, I am trying to make myself not feel so guilty about the person in the poem. I’m not to blame I say, they are. They should have asked for help. Then I find myself at square one regardless of what I think because I still cry for them. The fault is on them, well partly, so is the fault on me? Also partly, but it’s not about who is to blame and who isn’t but it is more about who I am inside and what I am made of. Its about my being able to live out what I profess. To be authentic, to be intimate with my friends and others that may cross my path. Be in their lives in good times and in bad. Do not be a “fair weather” friend, as they say. I want myself and other men to learn to see others when they don’t say anything, to see others when their smile is so clearly a front. To know someone so well that we do ask the questions in the poem asking often and sincerely is your life really ok? Are you walking so alone right now because I want to join you, just so I can be so close to you that maybe I hear your heart beat and recognize you’re dying on the inside. I so want to be this kind of friend to my friends.

 

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3 to think of others as better than ourselves. Wow, is there anything so hard to do when all that consumes us is us? Of course there isn’t. Let me clarify, I don’t mean that we knowingly think about ourselves all day long. I don’t mean to say that we are even aware or conscience about how selfish we are. After all, very few people can say, “hey I know I’m selfish and I’m okay with that.” But in all honesty, most all we do is planned out and designed to our personal specifications. Made to order for us, so to speak. The clothes we wear, the food we like, music and so on and so on. Life is all about us after all, isn’t it? No, I’m not saying that we never think about others, we do. If we’re husbands, we think about the wife, if a dad, we think about the kids. We do plan on being a good spouse and dad, and provider, protector, care giver, and on occasion, a coach. For our family we do this without giving it a second thought because we know they matter. Through all the ups and downs, they always matter. But if we slow down and take a peek at the “how” we perform all these things for our family, we will see that all we do is still doing it the way we want to do it, with as little inconvenience as possible, with no distractions and certainly at times, we do all these things never really considering how much of ourselves we put into it. 

Practically speaking, how do we do life considering others as better than ourselves? We do it by seeing the other person, regardless of who they are, by looking beyond their faults and seeing their need. The real need. Not how we want to look at them, not how we want to categorize them, and not even thinking about how they aren’t even in our lives, except for that moment. It is about that moment though; it is about our giving heart, our supposedly loving heart, whether we give willingly and unselfishly or do we just move around them without feeling guilty. This is when our selfishness comes out and we just move on without a single thought of guilt. When what we have to do takes front and center stage. This is where the measure of us becomes clear, so very clear, that we are so engulfed by our own self that we lose the ability to feel for what the other person really needs.

 Friendship may be defined in a few ways, but I believe the most telling is when we can raise our friends, up with all their needs, to support and provide for with all our heart. When we simply just do things for them as we see fit or when we believe we can. I want friends to ask me how I’m doing from the goodness of their heart. With well meaning intent that shows me that it doesn’t matter how long I’ve known them, but they show up in my life, good times and bad times, saying they’re my friend and most importantly, proving it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Man in the Mirror

 

 “Most men run away from the fight because they don’t want to answer the inevitable question…Am I one of the weak ones or am I one of the strong?”...unknown

 

Growing up in a small country town outside the Houston area I met many boys that would go to school along with me. I learned early on that boys come in all shapes and sizes. Not necessarily in physical appearance but in likes and dislikes, tough as nails and some as strong as flower petals, but there was one thing that we all knew inside…country boys never back down from a fight. It didn’t matter if we were getting an outstanding butt whooping, you never gave in and you never quit.

 

In reading the quote above, it reminded me about my growing up years and what I had learned that would carry me through life. Fighting, come to find out, used to be a normal part of a man’s development, expected I guess one could say, and it was there to create or enrich inner strength. But since the days of my youth, this expectation has been added to the list of reworking what masculinity looks like in a young man.  It too has taken on water and is quickly sinking. Men today are, as the quote states, “afraid to discover if they are strong men or weak men.” They avoid many types of conflict, not just in physical battle, but also intangible struggles, in areas that are outside their comfort caves.


They have not learned what the Gambler used to sing, “know when to hold them and know when to fold them”. They just go through life ignoring that part of choice. This is not healthy to do as it provides the path to do only what feels good and not what doesn’t feel good. Seems like today the definition of internal strength of manhood, is being eroded by not only culture, but what boys are being taught, how parents raise them, the expectations set before them. It is definitely a good thing to know when to pick our battles, so to speak, but when totally skirting around the decisions, it just serves to damage confidence with their inner self. The thing inside that develops a man by providing courage, humility, gentleness, wisdom, and yes, the ever-evolving understanding of “who” I am and what my purpose in life is supposed to be.

 

Ask any man who he is and he will generally tell you what he does, ask him what is his greatest skill and it will be something he does well, like sing, play an instrument, or maybe his greatest asset is gaming. All things outside of him, things that don’t relay any characteristic of what’s inside of him. For all intents and purposes, men have become conditioned to this. Men don’t actually think about this and decide intentionally that they will never choose something that doesn’t feel good. It becomes an “instinct” response whenever they are faced with situations presented to him. They don’t actually wake up one morning and decide what kind of man they want to be that day but they do think about their wants and desires, which really turns into looking for things that make him “feel” good inside. 



This mindset has come about from many years of a “developing” world. We have all played a part in this, whether it is directly or indirectly, but we do share the load. Whether it was family oriented, politics, schools, or peer pressure, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are here now and we need to turn the tide in the places we can, so our own family and friends don’t lose out. If you feel you are not one of those that I am referring to, great! Now go out and teach a younger man how to be one. If you feel like you are one of those that missed out on manly instruction, ask someone you know who is a good example and follow their teaching. You may have gotten here via many reasons, but don't stay here. Character does not have an expiration date nor does it require any special training. The only
prerequisite is the desire to be more than you are. To be a real man, so that when you look in the mirror, you like who you see and this man "man in the mirror" makes you smile.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

 

That Masked Man

As my mentee group of young men finished up the other night and after they had all left, I sat alone on the patio just contemplating the evening’s discussions and singular topics of conversation. As I thought about the laughter and playful jokes cast upon each other, I realized something. There are times when the guys speak a lot and then there are times when even though they don’t speak a lot, what they do say is full of information. Many camouflaged hints, and innuendos that if I didn’t believe and practice in listening to what wasn’t said, I feel I would have missed so much insight into their emotional and spiritual wellbeing.



Words matter and it is critically important when speaking with men to listen to and read between the lines. As personal stories go, without someone listening to them, their story would just move on without anyone giving it a second thought to hear the words which may indicate the “why” they were said to begin with. It would have been my missed opportunity to speak life into them during my time together or the one on one coffees with them.  

Life can be so crazy for all of us but for these young inexperienced men, everyday life can become overwhelming and could be tempted to just not bother with it because there may be hurt or pain, which are contributors to a feeling of hopelessness and worse, loneliness. This is never healthy for anyone. 

Going back to the evening of my guys group, we spoke to a lot of things and there were a few things that we discussed that shall remain “secret” due to it’s very personal nature, but what I can say is that men need to talk…about many things, all things. Most days guys wear a mask that they hide behind to cover many things and in order for them to step out from behind the mask, there's a few things that have to line up. They need a place where there is safety, where there is no criticism or judgement. A place where they can just be themselves, messed up, quirky, but always safe. A place where they know there is no one better or worse than them. Where they are equal and close enough to speak out loud about anything and everything. These are the moments when the windows of heaven open and we imagine Jesus saying, “YES!!! This is why I called you here, and here you will learn about an intimate relationship with Me first, and then an intimate relationship with others just like you. Men that do life and share life together to support each other, to hold up each others arms, and to point each other back to Me your source for life.” This impacts me to the core as I was, and am, so proud of these guys for their vulnerable sharing, for their trust, and the very evidence of love in action for each other. 

I’ve been a part of other men’s groups before and I have to brag about this group always, that they embody an intimate relationship with another man, AND, they hold nothing back between them. I have been working with these guys for over two years, starting with one who then invited a second, who invited a third, and the third invited a fourth. It took some time and I can’t say it has been an easy journey but man is it worth it. I can’t believe I am witness to what God can do with anyone that is willing to learn. Anyone who is willing to say enough is enough and take the hard steps to move into a higher level of emotional and spiritual health. These young men do not have an easy life but right now they have an abundant life. The one that God promised to those who want it.

For the men that are in fellowship with other men or just one, enjoy, enrich it to it’s maximum capacity. Envision more than just having fun together and chatting. Create within an intentionality to  pull each other up and encourage one another knowing that at any time life will hit you square in the face and you’ll fall flat. Friends are good to have, but an intimate friend, one that sees you honestly and truthfully, are rare and more valuable than any amount of money or gold. All our backs are exposed at any time and knowing someone has guard over you, is like Jesus with skin on as they say "having your six." Nothing better in this world, no one better to do life with. Get here and I promise…you will love every moment of every day knowing you have this kind of friend, and even more when you have a few.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

 

Our Life In Pieces

 

I’ve spoken to this topic before but I came across something that made me want to remind you of who you are. I came across an article this morning and it caught my attention because it is about an area of life that I have deep interest in. So, I would like to start with this quote from the book by Jack Myers, The Future of Men. He states, “Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into what I’m calling a “Lean Out” generation of young, discouraged and angry men—men who are feeling abandoned by the thousands of years of history that defined what it meant to be a real man: to be strong; to be a provider; to be in authority; to be the ultimate decision maker; and to be economically, educationally, physically and politically dominant…”. In my efforts of working with men, it dawned on me some years ago that this is relatively true. Within the young men I speak to that come for advice or ask about meeting for coffee, the one trending facet of a conversation is that “their world isn’t defined very well.” There’s a lack of something solid, something clear and not always so opaque. Although it’s different faces, the question still seems the same, “why is it that so many things make no sense to me? Considering that there isn’t one template God uses to make men, it isn’t an easy question to tackle, much less try to define it all the while hoping it makes sense to my audience of one. This is the make up of today’s young adults, yet another uptick into their ever-fluctuating internal bubble that needs balancing and steadiness in order to correctly identify what is level. Do you see this too, or, perhaps you are one of the men I’m speaking about? How do you, personally, feel about this quote as it pertains to you? Does it reflect how you feel? Even a little bit or perhaps a lot of bit?


Let me ask you this, “what do YOU see when you look in a mirror”? Honestly…do you see a person that you like, admire, or maybe are even proud of? Are you confident in you and your abilities? If someone asked you, “what do you do” would you be excited to share what you do or would you be hesitant about your career or where you work? These are all questions that millions of men face daily. The truth is that aside from what you believe about yourself, none of these questions really matter because what matters is foundationally determined by you and your Designer. Your likes, dislikes, and quirkiness creep into all of life’s smallest and biggest decisions. Things such as foods, drinks, social friends, or even no friends at all. You are the only one that from a very young age began, to develop all of your acquired traits. All of your behaviors, the way you speak, the words you use…all of this was learned by you. All these things are learned specific to you and you alone. The good Lord designed you uniquely gifted, to just be you, only you, and no one else. So why try to be someone you were never meant to be?  

Just be you, only you, and no one else


You may feel like you didn’t get the proper instruction that all males need so that you can develop a healthy mindset and a more robust character. I will not diminish the fact that you may not have had someone since a young age to teach you but I can say this, “you may have made some terrible choices in life. You may have had an unimaginable childhood, but in many ways, most every other guy you see on the street, in church, or just at any public gathering, each has a story.” Fact of the matter is that their story is a personal song that means much to them. Each song may be sad, it may be happy, and it may even be a mix of both. I’m here to tell you…it doesn’t matter as much as you matter! You matter! Yes, your story is yours to tell or not, but as I listen to the ones that are shared with me, I see more there than just a story of someone’s life history. I have the benefit of an outsider looking in with no bias, knowledge, or heartstrings to these brothers’ past and I proudly can say that what I see are men that have the potential and the possibility of a warrior man, a man that did not let the negative in life destroy him. A giant of a man whose heart is as big as the Goliath he has slain over and over in life. I speak to these men day in and day out, and although they lacked something in their formidable years, today they reach out for help, for advice, sometimes just to ask if you wanna hang out for coffee or a movie. A bad upbringing didn’t put shackles on these boys. They don’t do life alone and isolated because if they’ve learned one thing it’s that when one isolates, he opens the door to the ghosts of his past to come in and that is the last thing he desires to revisit.

 

Look, in life you will face many moods and emotions. You will have good days and bad days and maybe some days that you really don’t want to get out of bed, but this is where you made the decision long ago that your day was not going to be identified by the sum total of all your good and bad. This decision can dictate the rest of your day. These are the decisions you make every day, but today you make them from a different mindset than from the mindset of years ago. God didn’t make you to be a wimp in life, to fear what’s around the next corner, but instead He gifted you with His best for just you and because of this, you can face any day, any issue, any person, anywhere, because even though your life may seem like it’s in pieces some days, the biggest and best piece is YOU and guess what? YOU MATTER!!!


Saturday, March 20, 2021

 

The Hiccuperuptions

 

Guys, have you heard of or has someone ever asked you if you’ve had the “hiccuperuptions” lately??  If so, what or how do you normally respond? Is it the old stand there motionless with question marks appearing in your cornea? Or do you actually say something? Regardless of your reaction, eventually you ask that question that sums everything up, ”the what?? What the heck is that??” Here’s where you receive the answer but almost immediately you think, “seriously? You disturbed my valuable time only to give me this silly answer? What a waste of my time”. But afterwhile, and although you thought the answer was silly, there was something about the explanation that later got you to thinking about it and maybe even got you to realize a little more about yourself. Something you really hadn’t noticed or ever thought about since it’s never been on your radar. Maybe it even made you curious enough to wonder if its’s only something you do, or do other guys do the same thing? I can tell you this…everyone does it. Not just you, but everyone else. So moving forward let’s share what the “hiccuperuptions” are and provide some new found wisdom and knowledge of them and how to avoid them.

What the heck is that???      


Hiccups are those little semi-burps, unwanted and never timely body functions that interrupt you usually when it’s not convenient. For example, while making a presentation at work, while enjoying a cool drink and BBQ in your back yard while entertaining guests, and yes, even when you try to sneak in a smooch to your wife or girlfriend and they stop you dead in your tracks. Annoying little buggers aren’t they? A bright side is that they usually don’t last very long but are none the less, an interruption of an enjoyable moment.

And speaking about interruptions…

 

Let me drop this right here that is due appropriate consideration and sometimes is misplaced in your day. What if you were to take the perspective that is certainly a more meaningful experience during those “inconvenient interruptions” we all experience in life. But first, understand that most guys such as yourself have a one-track male mind. Many simply focus on one thing at a time, one errand or task at a time, and, often focus on the wrong thing! Here’s the deal, while you are very good at anything you truly focus on, the issue is that when you do focus or zero in on something, you unintentionally turn off the rest of the world. Why do I mention this? Well to be honest, so you understand that sometimes it is exactly at this point when we exclude the most important, most important people in our lives. Although unintentional, when they interrupt us, would you honestly say it really is an interruption? Are they sometimes so unimportant that our actions provide evidence to make them believe that what you are doing is more important and you cannot, absolutely cannot be interrupted? That being said, perhaps they walk away feeling less important than the task you have at hand? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been made to feel that way by someone so important in my life, and it didn’t feel good at all. That can be really messed up and if not addressed and corrected, can cause some deep wounds. So as best as you can, don’t go there with your spouse, your children, and all those other people you love.

Now you may ask, “how does all this help me understand the “hiccuperruptions”?” Well the way I like to explain it is that when family members or friends interrupt us, it can be very similar to hiccups. They come upon us at the most inopportune times, no notice no preparation, and then we are internally bothered because the hiccups have now caused agitation and an interruption, we were not ready for. And like kids, sometimes they are not easily dismissed or disregarded. They press the do not disturb button when you least expect it and all they wanted was a little attention and perhaps, if you’re blessed, a really tight hug that assures them everything is fine. I personally have missed many of those times because I felt I couldn’t be disturbed and probably shooed them away. Boy I so wish I hadn’t missed those moments because now it seems like I want more but have to settle for those infrequent ones. However, I do take advantage of my grandkid’s attention and hugs often because I am sure to stop when I can, and give them my complete focus. I realize that there will always be some times when you really can’t stop what you’re doing, but during those times express lovingly that you will get to them as soon as you can and avoid dismissing them. Attempt to make them feel loved.

 

There’s a Biblical story that I love to relate to when it comes to being interrupted and perhaps you’ve heard it on occasion. It’s the story of when Jesus was walking down the town streets and many were following Him, bumping, brushing onto Him and perhaps even being pushed into Him. All of a sudden Jesus stops and asks a question, “who touched me” He asked?? Keep in mind what I previously mentioned that He was amongst throngs of people with no way of someone not touching Him. There were people all around, they were all yelling at Him trying to get His attention, even His disciples answered Him saying, “why do you ask who touched me? Did You notice all the people and know that there is no way You can walk close to them without being touched?” There was definitely so much noise and distractions vying for Jesus’ attention, but He was so focused on the importance of each of them. In the midst of the world’s noise, He noticed one particular touch. Jesus sensed this one small touch, this one seemingly insignificant gesture, and He knew that this touch was made in true faith…it was the woman that needed healing from a disease she had for a while but she knew that if she could just touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. Jesus calls her effort true faith.

Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

 

I love that story but what I really would like to impress on you isn’t so much the story as it is the point that Jesus stopped to pay attention to this woman. With all the voices and noise calling for His attention, He actually stopped to pay attention to the needs of this lady. This just strengthens my thoughts that when our loved ones call for us we should stop to listen to them and their needs when we can. There are no more important people in your life than your family and friends and of course they all have need of your wisdom and guidance in varying degrees. There is no more value than the one you place on someone when you stop what you are in the middle of, turn, listen, and provide your undivided attention. Reminds me of a saying I read somewhere that stated, “people may not remember all you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Poignant huh?  Yea, got me to reconsider how I respond when someone interrupts me. As mentioned, there will be times when you just can’t stop what you are doing, but try to make that the exception not the norm. So if you have chronic “hiccuperruptions” from normal hiccups and also the people around you, I would encourage you, and ask that if you are not doing it, to stop for a moment and consider the scenario of this hiccup…who is it, how important are they, and what may be the result if I do not pay attention? I can guarantee that if you are and have been doing it, you will make a lot of people feel special and it will go a long way in making you feel special yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

In My Backyard

 


The other day as I was waiting for the release of classes, I observed several young boys playing together on the playground. Sitting there, my mind was teleported back to a place in time that I remember the neighborhood kids playing together in my back yard.

 photo by Joao Rafael
I was raised in a certain part of the city, closest to the river and therefore our back yard was not exactly flat, grassy, and without thorns. Regardless of what small obstacles we faced, we always found a way to make things fun and enjoyable. We would pretend my back yard was a fortress and castle we had to defend against the bad guys. It was an army war zone where children would find the perfect shaped stick to become our Luger pistol or machine gun with which to annihilate the enemy. There were about 12 kids playing and so we had a come up with two teams to portray the bad guys and the good guys, then after a while, we would switch sides. It was no big deal to disagree as to which side one would play or who died with the make-believe bullets because when someone told you, “bang you’re dead”, you knew you were down until the next match started. All fun with no seriousness but a lot of laughter, and no one ever verbalized that it was a silly game that was not real. It was real as could be for a moment in time, as we transformed into a certain well-liked character.

Moms knew when it was time to come home!

Then like most parents did back then, we would hear someone’s mom call out loud that it was time to come wash up as it was getting close to dinner time and the oh so dreaded bath time. Well maybe it just applied to me because my bath would be to do a quick one under the outdoor water hose with a bar of soap that was perpetually there to use, and when finished I would let my mom know to bring me some dry clothes. She was very close by as the kitchen was right inside the door I would enter through.  Immediately, I would smell the aroma of fresh corn bread, beans, and tortillas.  All fresh and all from scratch. We didn’t have enough money to buy food in cans or packages, but it was all delicious.  Since all of us were poor, no one knew much about alternative choices. We didn’t know any difference, so we didn’t feel like we lost anything.

In today’s world, kids playing has changed from mostly outdoors to mostly indoors. From learning about bugs and spiders, to learning about apps and online entertainment. From active soldiers to inactive “couch potatoes” in a world that seems to have lost a sense of life and all that the outdoors has to offer. Not saying that learning electronics is bad, it just seems to me that the rough and tough has been taken out of games for boys and the damsel in distress is now actually not in distress any longer but is more so uncharacterized.  Gender identity has been lost and a neutral perspective of one other gained. Talking, laughing out loud, and tackling the enemy has been replaced by inanimate keystrokes. This isn’t teaching, engaging and enjoying the company of others. This is replacing people with machines. Things that cannot love back, will never prepare us or touch us, or cry with us or around us. They don’t step on prickly burrs and ask for help to take the stickers out; there is no gratitude nor the sharing of a rarely acquired candy bar. Only a button push to turn it on or turn it off. 

This isn’t kids living out their imaginations, nor is it emotionally healthy. In fact, maybe it’s no life at all. Our young men seem to have shelved their honor, their word, and all the things that forge character so that now they have no idea what being a man is supposed to be like. In all fairness though, it’s not like one day they knew these things and woke up one morning and decided “I am going to shed my honor and what my word means.” In fact, in my time, boys spoke truth, not as compared to a lie, but to verbalize something they liked or not, what came out of our mouths was pretty black and white. I mean we weren’t like angels or demons, and I’m not saying we didn’t ever lie but when  put in a child’s world, it was a little white fib. The point being that this generation of young men are only living out what they know and were taught No more and no less. Keep in mind that this is the world they operate out of.

Like I said, electronics are good and helpful when needed and we all should learn how to take advantage of them. What I would encourage in addition to, is the use of a back yard, the local empty lot, or even a local playground. Let kids play in their own version of their heroes, their knights, and yes if they want to be clowns, then let them. I miss my back yard; I mean really miss it. Not for the rough and shoddy ground it was but for the things I learned instinctively: there were no black kids, no white kids, and certainly no Hispanic kids because I learned we all laughed the same, liked the same things, and we did not see any difference in our skin color.  When we split up into teams, we were only separated by the shirts from the skins. No color, no preferences, no exclusions…just kids playing together in my back yard.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The BIG Chill

 


Brrrr…Texans in my area have never experience cold weather like this before and it seems that we are all in a panic!! The forecast for Monday is 5 degrees and personally, in all my years I’ve never experienced this kind of cold before even when we vacationed in Colorado. Yes, I know I sound like I’m complaining and whining…well I suppose that I am, so sad too bad.

The thought hit me though as I look around and speak to a few friends, the public in general, does not know what to do or how to prepare for these abnormal temperatures. The media is providing some advice on preparations for ourselves, our homes, our pets and pipes which is all very important. However, the real question I have is why do we wait for right before the freeze blankets us to actually act on a plan of how we are going to combat and avoid being one of its victims? 

As I engage my devotion this morning, I got a mental picture of how I personally, and others I know, somehow wait until we are right dead set, right at the onset of a storm before we look up and say, “oh wow, I need to make sure I do everything needed to protect those I love”. It seems to me that when it comes to this, we are a people who procrastinate!  

        We put off many of the “what ifs” in life, for example: 

        We don’t add gasoline until it feels like we’re running on fumes

        We certainly don’t display or verbalize our deepest appreciation for the special people in our lives             until it’s almost too late or worse 

        We don’t consider the cons as much as we do the pros of life in many areas.  

        Face it, we procrastinate! 

Now, to get back to my mental picture…as believers in Christ, don’t we do the same thing in our spiritual life when it comes to attacks from all sides?  Don’t we roll right along with life, enjoying the conveniences and comforts it provides, all the while knowing, but not acting on or preparing for the times when we do have those attacks? When it feels like this winter freeze is more than we can bear or withstand the different levels of cold. When it seems like our soul is so cold and frozen to the urgings of the Spirit to look out and we become insensitive to many things around us. This is us! The Word tells us in many places to not only prepare for battle, but also to expect it. If we expect the hard times to come then we have an opportunity to gird up with the necessary resources, tools, and armor to defend against what comes upon us. Here’s the deal, we are told to expect, we are admonished to prepare, we have all the warnings that need to be given to recognize a battle is coming. Some will be large and seemingly overpowering, some will be just enough to annoy and distract us, but there is no reason we should be unprepared for it because we have been told and we should always be ready.

Is it any wonder our spiritual lives are so shaky and unsteady? Any wonder why our emotional state seems to be on a roller coaster most days? Up one day and down the next. Then, to make it all worse, we look to blame someone else for our ineptitudes. We want to justify our shortcomings by believing it was someone else or something else that caused me to be unsuspecting. We really do have a built-in shortcut to the garden don’t we (the blame game)? Look, it’s not a matter of what we haven’t done or haven’t said, and it’s not even a matter of being coerced, but it is our decision and our decision alone. No one can make us prepare.  Just like no one can force anything upon us if we don’t want what they have to offer. This can only happen if we provide the opportunity and allow it. Yup, agree with me or not, the condition we are in internally is made up of all the choices we have made or are making. Obviously, there are a few exceptions where we did not have a choice and praise God maybe we are healing from those, but for the most part, today we have the choice to prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the battles to come. Maybe some of us have made really bad choices in life, but know this, God loves us at this very moment just the way we are, exactly where we are, and in the condition that we are. No ifs, ands, or buts…how about this.  

Why don’t we all decide that today will be the first day that will change our lives for the better. That this day going forward we will prepare according to how God wants us to prepare and be ready for whatever comes our way. 

Not the easiest thing to do.

        Not the prettiest thing to do. 

                And certainly not the popular thing to do. 

                        But after all, this IS our own LIFE so make it mean something!


Monday, February 1, 2021

In search of Bigfoot

 

I caught the tail end of a documentary about Sasquatch, or more commonly known as Bigfoot and how so many people have seen it, but to this day remains elusive and unfounded. 

I do not know if you believe or even have an opinion about the big guy but, what comes to mind when you hear anything about the myth of Bigfoot? Do you envision a hairy creature, 10 ft tall, and bigger than any creature that walks on two legs, or perhaps a vision of mystique and something wild? What if we could be like Bigfoot, in that we could hide out in the wild, in a place so hard to track down that we would be alone for a bit? Sound intriguing? I know that sometimes we want to get so disconnected from life, and we don’t want anyone to talk to us or locate us. A wish so powerful that we just want to be left alone to do whatever we want to do, need to do, to put together some strategy to sort life out.

That place truly is a desire for many men, and I believe most men desire to have the ability to become hidden, wild, and retreat to a very private place. Would it surprise you to know that that place does exist? In every man this mental but very secluded place does exist. We have a very distinct, but very real man cave within where we can go hang out. For a moment we too can be like Sasquatch, even if it means withdrawing within ourselves, we can choose to be lost in the wild, being alone and where no other human voice can be heard. All we hear is freedom to be alone, to be wild and to be free, and even if it’s just for a little while.

Sadly, we know we do not have the ability to just hop on a flight to this locale anytime we want. The ticket to this place has to be purchased by circumstance. Generally a circumstance so overwhelming it sets off a pressure cooker inside. An incident in life that goes sideways at any given moment, with any given person, and anywhere in the world. It is such that we don’t know how to handle it so we’d rather just escape to our castle within, and even though we may be alone, hurt, mad, or angry, at this very moment, our insides tell us this is where we can unload our mind, this is our Eden garden. A place that provides our fill of happiness and ecstasy. And even here, there is no cry out for the need to have someone around. Where alone is the ticket, then we think we’re happy.

To follow back around guys, this often sought after temporary freedom isn’t what you may think it is. Its obscure setting, wearing a cloak of invisibility, and the wild at heart energy we may feel is nothing more than the Bigfoot…nothing more than a fable that can be dangerous if we drift too far into the jungle. I concede that one can “feel” so exhilarated, engulfed in mindset where nothing that can drain our energy exists, a thick blanket of feel good fuzzy material. At this point is where we need to be wary because here is when we are most vulnerable to any attacks. Why? For the simple reason that we have totally allowed ourselves to drop all defenses for the purpose of selfishly soaking in that soothing hot tub in our never-never land. 

The kicker is this…as relaxing as we may feel while we are here, this could turn out to be a positive step forward that if we choose to, can actually provide a healthy place to kick the issue around that brought us here. Yes, this paradise island we tend to run towards, can actually be helpful to us. Remember I said that it can be dangerous to wander too deep into this jungle? I mean that if we decide to stay here too long, it may be difficult to rationalize what is real and what isn’t. People have been known to leave family, friends, and jobs to pursue this dream. But…once we get here, let’s take advantage of this ambiguous opportunity to move forward and out, just by changing focus and also think about the issue that got us here. It now becomes not only a place where we can restore and re-energize, but it’s a great place to logically work out a solution to our problems. Even here is this place that only we can venture to, and even though we may be alone in the wild, we can choose to become a better person by taking the issue that someone or something meant to harm us and turning it to make it work for us. Now we are back, in control, and more experienced…until the next time.

Monday, January 11, 2021

ONE Is the Loneliest Number

 I am lonely at times...there, I said it. It wasn't so hard to say, and for the life of me I am just now beginning to understand why it is that so many men seem to have so much trouble admitting it. In the many conversations I've had with multiple guys the one thing that is constant is that there is a lack of authentic expressions and especially to sharing internal feelings up front. It takes time to develop into something really close and really intimate but why is that? I think I have an idea and I'd like to throw it out for your consideration and thoughts if you would like to share.

There seems to be this internal notion for most men that sharing your feelings is a "female" thing so when there's any thought of sharing something intimate with a male friend men seem to hit a brick wall and absolutely will not go beyond. Can I paint a picture for you? They feel like the Israelites when they arrived at the Red Sea and could not go beyond that point. They looked behind and saw the Egyptian chariots racing towards them to bring them back to Egypt. If they looked towards the sea, they saw drowning and sure death. They were at a place where there seems to be no solution. It is at this exact place where men find themselves when they have this mentality, and, it has created generations of men who have had their emotional growth stunted by ideas, perceptions, and opinions of others. The idea that if I become vulnerable and share internal feelings, it shows that I am weak or cowardly. This in turn perpetuates a guy's inability to forge strong and caring relationships with other men. Then what we have left are men that won't speak, won't share, won't cry, and maybe even won't hug. This breaks my heart and causes hurt to the very core of who we have been made to be. Makes sense??

So without an intimate (come on guys, don't assume that means sexual) and close relationship with another man, what occurs is that men slowly begin to push that "closeness" off to their wives or girlfriends. Are you getting an idea of what is going to happen over time? Yes, men begin to believe that their mate is responsible for their emotional well being and let me just insert here, it can only lead to failure. Slowly that expectation is whittled away (probably because it was never expressed) due to the fact that a wife or girlfriend is not wired to meet that need, much less truly understand what it means. Guys! Ladies do not understand your need as a man and the simple reason is what? She's not a man!

Men place so little effort in solidifying their relationships with other men because they don't know how and for the most part, were probably instructed as a youth to not expose themselves as weak or hurt to other men. This stigma carried a sickle with it that the moment any man felt close and wanted to speak authentically to a friend, the picture of slicing and dicing takes over and the poor guy just exits stage left.  Let me throw this in here, I've heard admissions that it is easier for men to fess up to feelings like anxiety and disappointment so much easier than to admit being lonely. This is a dragon of a different color. Why?  Well it's because the first two can be placed towards others, but loneliness is personal and internal realization that it's on me and me alone. This means and presents a worth or a value of who I am or how I see myself. This is BIG when it comes to a personal perspective of "me".

So how do we slay this giant in our midst? By simply facing it...meaning make positive steps with a small circle of your friends you know well. Begin to share some of your sacred "feelings". Express how at times you feel like you need a friend to listen, to support, to simply to provide audience. Not only will this help you reach another level of friendship and intimacy, but may also very well open the door to another man that all this time needs exactly what you are needing and work to help him to realize it too.

No man can be an island, you may think so but somewhere sometime, you too will feel alone and it will hit you like nothing else you have faced. Be courageous and take a few steps forward to find your friend(s) but also know that those steps you have taken will payoff immensely.