It is a known reality that men are much better at compartmentalizing their inner life. For example, we can separate our thoughts from our feelings, whereas women in generally are much more in touch with how they feel and what they sense intuitively. Most men feel totally lost when the discussion move from the head to the heart. But in isolating our emotions we should not consider them as not having influence in our life. Rather, when we ignore our deep emotions such as fear, anger, guilt and shame, they gain strength and can become unruly. Just as your wife. She will confirm what I am saying. She knows what are your “hot buttons.”
Men, we need to face reality. We need to think of our inner life as a whole. What we call “I” is really a family of many part-selves that we either ignore or dismiss altogether, especially the ones that make us feel vulnerable, such as our broken and wounded self. Listen to David Benner, one of my favorite spiritual writers. “Christian spirituality involves acknowledging all our part-selves, exposing them to God’s love and letting him weave them into the new person he is making….we must be willing to welcome these ignored parts as full members of the family of self, giving them space at the family table and slowly allowing them to be softened and healed by love and integrated into the whole person we are becoming.” Take it from me, these are words of real spiritual wisdom.
Here are some reasons why this statement reflects so much wisdom, at least in my experience. First of all, I hide my real self for years behind the appearance of being a “niece Christian man.” Why? Because there were parts of my person that were not welcomed to the family table. They are aspects of my personality that I would hide about myself, while feeling shame and guilt. I learned as a child to hide and pretend. Secondly, I have finally come to see that I can expose who I really am in the presence of God and be met not with judgment or disapproval, but with unconditional love. This is very liberating. My heavenly Father knows all my hidden parts. He just has waited for me to bring them to the table so that he could bring healing to my divided heart.
As a result I have found more healing for my masculine soul. Remember, men and this is important. You do not create your new self in Christ. This is the work of God. You can spend years going around and around in your rational, male mind, trying to create an acceptable version of a Christian man. You can’t do it. You will get discourage and want to give up. Only God can take all your family members, the good, the bad and the ugly and weave them into the man you were destined to be from eternity. Remember the words of Jesus, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles” (Matt. 9:16-17 – The Message)
So take it from me, a “recovering Pharisee.” Ask Jesus, the healer of the soul,for grace and mercy to be able to bring all the members of your family to the table of grace. You will not like all the family members. But remember, they have been a part of the real you. You will never change until you stop being hostile or indifferent to some of your family members. You need to show them hospitality. Something begins to change when you bring all your members into the light and share them with Jesus. You could say, that Jesus sits with you at the table and helps you accept and become reconciled to who you have really been all your life. You find that nothing is wasted. Paul puts it this way, “…then take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you” (Eph. 4:23-4 – The Message)