Have you ever wanted to quit? You ask, “Quit what?” Quit trying to be a nice, descent, spiritual guy. This is the “nice guy” whom the church rewards for being “a good man.” The nice guy knows he is operating more in his own strength then that of the Lord’s. I have learned from hard experience that you can keep up the “spiritual” practice of being nice for only so long. My personality is notorious for trying to be nice. When I have not been nice, I slip into self-denial, which can at times plunge me into self-hatred. I start “beating myself up” spiritually. I become discouraged and resolve to try harder. It becomes a endless cycle, that I am slowly reversing with God’s help. I am not out of the woods yet, but I am making progress.
Two things have been of great help for me on my journey. First is the inner awareness that God loves me as I am, not as I should be. I am his “beloved sinner.” Secondly, this has helped me to be honest about what is going on within my soul, that deep, mysterious place within. It is not that I have to go “fishing” for what is wrong. That would get me into what Leanne Payne calls “the disease of introspection.” I have been afflicted wiwth this disease all my life. I would spend time looking in on myself through my own eyes. My perspective is desperately flawed by my distorted thinking, causing me to not be objective but filled with illusions about myself that are not true. This easily plunged me into the darkness of my own diseased attitudes and feelings about myself. While God wants me to be aware of what is going on in my soul, he does not want me to go to that dark, sorted place of condemnation.
This practice has caused me over the years to be fearful of what is really in my “deep spiritual tank.” But knowing that I am loved as I am in the good, bad and ugly, I have begun to get in touch with my God give desires and passions, which haved layed buried beneath m distorted image of myself. George Herbert observed, “He begins to die, that quits his desires.” Men, let me give testimony to the fact that when we allow ourselves to become aware of our soul, we will begin a journey into foreign territory. We will have to fight for our souls. We will not want to be exposed. John Eldredge observes, “Every man fears being exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man. If there’s one thing a man does know he knows he is made to come through. But he fears that he will fail.”
Eldredge asks men, “are words like strong, passionate, and dangerous words you would choose” to describe ourselves? Do we have strength to offer the world? Will we be abel to come through? The answer is yes. Our strength comes from the Lord. This strength is not an idea in our mind or a habit we practice. It is an awareness of the Lord at the center of our hearts, giving us what we need for the masculine journey. This awareness becomes evident to us as we are willing to pay attention to our souls. Listen to Paul’s encouraging words. “God can do anything you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us” (Eph. 3:20-21 – The Message).