Kenny Luck, who is head of Every Man Ministries, wrote an interesting blog entitled, “Eating Men Alive: Powerful Men, Common Fears.” He makes reference to the recent “fall from grace” of both Tiger Woods and Gen. David Petraeus. Wood and Petraeus in the words of Luck, “were two of the most revered and respected apex predators in the masculine pecking order. Both breathed the rare air of cult status in the most coveted zones of male glory: battle and sport….Their falls from grace were painful sucker punches to their admirers.” I value the question that Luck asks us to consider, “Why don’t we stop shaking our heads at men and start exploring the powerful dynamics in these stories that are common to all men? Why not talk about the very real psychological, moral and spiritual dynamics at the root of these lapses versus just ‘tabloiding” the symptoms.” In other words, men need to pay attention to the life of the soul.
Men says Luck are “like icebergs – you only see the tip.” Luck observes that “below the waterlines of their visible and public personas, the invisible and personal fears that, somehow, they were ‘losing themselves’ started to envelop both men….these outwardly confident and secure men become inwardly insecure and unsure of themselves.” In hindsight Woods said, “I felt like my life was a commercial.” Sources close to Petraeus noticed an “identity malaise” which was a result of the transition from the battle field to the halls of Washington.
We can learn from the stories of these two men, by listening more closely to our own story. When we get into “unfamiliar emotional territory” due to difficult circumstances and strained relationships, we too can be vulnerable to, “rogue emotions for men that frighten even the strongest and most disciplined in our ranks.” We will all face storms in our lives that we are unexpected, causing us to have insecurity and fear within. When those inner storms occur it will be vital to be honest about what is going within our souls. Listen carefully to what Luck asks us to consider. “Carefully built public images surrounding us create a high wall that private problems cannot scale. This public-private split does not accommodate the admission of weakness…In this prison of man’s own making secrets must be kept and private relief sought.”
Men it vitally important that we are honest with our fears, when we are in troubled waters. We all have a “homemade self” that hides behind the walls of fear and insecurity. This is a prison in which men try to hide their secrets, while searching for some kind of inner relief, by presenting a public face that seems to have things under control. We can become like a pressure cooker, in which the pressure to keep up the our public persona becomes too much work. We do all we can to keep to lid on, while hiding our fears and insecurities. The more our inner turmoil is in conflict with our outer reality, the greater chance that some of the steam built up within will let out. It is when we do some things that out of character, as it relates to our carefully crafted outer person. Men make decisions and react to others in unhealthy ways.
It should be a practice for every man to know when the pressure is building up in his inner pressure cooker. Inner stress, a lack of peace and fear are good enough indicators to indicate something is not right within. We need to be honest about our condition. Above all it is important be in a group or at least have a close, caring friend to hear you tell your story of fear and insecurity. We all need a “safe place” to tell our story. This begins with humbling ourselves before God and others. “Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s might hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7) We need to remember the teaching of AA – there is no real help until we can come to the place where we admit that our lives are “unmanageable.” Men, I cannot stress too strongly, the importance of being with other trusted men, so that you can let off some of the pressure built up within your soul due to your fear and insecurity.