Now there is a word you probably never heard before. I came across the word when I was reading Rhett Smith’s book, “What it means to be a man.” Here is the paragraph. “Many boys are taught to be so proficient at burying their exuberance that they manage to bury it even from themselves. Recent research indicates that in this society most males have difficulty not just in expressing, but even in identifying their feelings. The psychiatric term for this impairment is alexithymia. Ron Levent estimates that close to 80% of men in our society have a mild or severe form of it.”
I confess to having the major symptoms of this impairment. It has been a long journey identifying and becoming comfortable with my feelings, even though on the Myers-Briggs inventory I score highest on “feelings.” I have spent years denying some of my deepest feelings, even before God (silly, but true). I have justified how I feel, while blaming others or a particular circumstance. I have not expressed myself honestly, but rather have tried to be “niece and spiritual.” I could say more, but you get the picture. Each man reading this blog has his struggle based on his personality type, family history and the arrows caught in his heart.
But the point is, our feelings are real. They are a part of who we are. They are telling us what is going on in our soul. They are like “the red light” on the dashboard telling us to check on the condition of our soul. Men lets face it, we are full of a real “stew” of emotions. David was a man of God who struggled with his emotions in a very open before others and God. He recorded his struggle in many of the Psalms. Listen to David – “‘Mum’s the word,’ I said, and kept quiet. But the longer I kept silence the worse it got – my insides got hotter and hotter, my thoughts boiled over; I spilled my guts.” (Ps. 39:2-3 – The Message). If we do not “identify” and “befriend” our emotions they will “boil over” in harmful ways.
So what do we do? Well, a lot could be said. I want to highlight one aspect that I have struggled with on my journey. That is being honest with God about my emotions, especially in prayer. The reality is that God longs for intimate fellowship with me. He knows the chaos of my soul. Nothing surprise him about my “soul condition.” He simply waits for me to be honest with my feelings in relationship to my daily life and my relationship with him. Men, tell God just how you are feeling. Don’t come to him telling him what you think he would want you to say. One of the keys for continual healing in my life is the relief I have found in being about to be honest before God. It is in honest prayer that I can begin to sort out my feelings. Remember God loves you passionately and unconditionally right in your “stew.” He is right there observing it all. Let him in to help you sort it all out.