When it comes to “soul talk” men in general are silent, due in part to not being familiar with the idea. We often do not have the language or even the courage to talk about our inner life. We need a “soul friend.” Writing about such a friend, Eugene Peterson made this observation: “Each of us has contact with hundreds of people who never look beyond our surface appearance. We have dealings with hundreds of people who the moment they set eyes on us begin calculating what use we can be to them, what they can get out of us….and then someone enters our life who isn’t looking for someone to use, is leisurely enough to find out what’s really going on in us….and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions…a friend.”
I am reading a book by Wes Yoder entitled “Bond of Brothers.” I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a reader of this blog. Yoder has some very insightful observations about men that are stated in a fresh, new way. I have read a lot of books on men. But with Yoder’s book I found myself having many “aha moments.” For me personally and for the men I have worked with over the years this book is like a fresh breeze and refreshing water. Yoder has a great statement on the conversations that men have with each other. “The perfect conversation for men with little to say can be summed up in eight words, ‘Can you believe the weather at that game?'” I find this to be so true. Men are great at talking about the weather and sports. Go to any coffee shop in the morning and you will find this to be true. Just add a little politics and talk about women.
What we so desperately need is to be able to break the silence of not talking about our soul life. This will not happen till we find other men who are willing to share in soul talk. We need the company of other soul mates to share our inner stuff without fear of rejection. The fear of rejection can be great among men, who have shut down soul talk because of guilt and shame. We don’t want others to know who we really are. Yoder says we need to “declare war on shallowness.” To begin to do this we have to admit our weakness and brokenness when it comes to sharing out hearts.
Let me close with one more quote from Yoder. “Many people will do almost anything to avoid to the openness of spiritual friendship. Religion offers the perfect fix for your troubles, but as your friend, I must offer you my weakness. Instead of perfection, I can promise you only brokenness. Together we invite Jesus into our shared brokenness and he – the incarnate Christ of God alive within us – can do the work of remaking what is left of the mess we have made of ourselves.” Yoder’s comments remind me of the 12 Steps of AA and our having to admit that our life is unmanageable. Find a friend or find a group of guys who subscribe to the 12 Steps. There you will find men who will share out of their brokenness. If you can’t find a group, find one guy in your circle of acquaintances and make a commitment together to share you inner life, based on the 12 Step principles.