Reflect a bit on this quote from Ken Nerburn’s book, Letters to my Son: A Father’s Wisdom on Manhood, Women, Life and Love:  “I have felt myself emptied into the mystery of the universe, and I have had moments when the smallest slight threw me into a rage. I have carried others when I barely had the strength to walk myself, and I have left others standing by the side of the road with their hands outstretched for help. Sometimes I feel I have done more than anyone can ask; other times I feel I am a charlatan and a failure. I carry within me the spark of greatness and the darkest of heartless crimes.  In short, I am a man, as you are.

This honest confession is a reminder of what I would call my divided life. There is my life “out there” and my life “in there,” that is, what other people see and experience of my life and what is really going on in my soul. Parker Palmer in “A Hidden Wholeness” convincingly addresses the neglect in our culture of knowing what is going in the soul. While I have learned outwardly to say and do the right things to gain approval and acceptance, my soul is starved for attention.  It is so easy to willfully ignore the still small voice of my soul.  In those moments I find myself questioning what kind of man I am, when I have not come through – choosing rather to ignore a more virtuous and honorable response to whatever is happening around (or to) me.

Palmer describes how easy it is to choose to live divided rather than whole lives.  First, comes denial: “This is NOT the real me; I’m really not that bad.”  Second, comes equivocation (conflict with the still small voice of my soul): “No, that wasn’t really God… that was just a passing thought…”  Third, comes fear: “What price do I have to pay for being authentic, for being real?”  Fourth, comes cowardice: “The divided life is destructive, but at least it is familiar – and I am in control.”  Finally, comes reward: “I am actually rewarded by society for stifling my soul.”  As a man who desires to follow Christ, this pattern causes me to be “beat myself up” spiritually and to take the easy route of denial and self-justification.  I am forced once again to ask, “Am I a man who has what it takes?”

This is why the posture of listening to the Lord becomes so important.  With the help of the Spirit of God, who dwells in the deepest regions of my soul, I have the strength and courage to discern the difference between the good and bad that rages in my soul.  Make no mistake about it, men, there is a war going on for our souls. The battle will not be won by denial. We need to face the battle by being honest, having a courage that is given by God’s Spirit, as we cry for mercy.  Sometimes all I can do is cry, “Lord, have mercy on me, your wayward, divided son!”

Listen in closing to David’s honesty: “You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.  I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.  What you’re after is truth from the inside out.  Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life” (Ps.  51:4-6 – The Message).