Richard Rohr makes this very perceptive observation about men and the women in their lives. “Women for the most part carry our feeling world.” Oh, how true this was in my home, in my church and often in my marriage. Just observe the ordinary interaction between men and women in our culture. When it comes to “the heart” stuff men more or less go silent in the discussion or simply stay in the “control tower” of descriptive and factual language. That is why in so many churches women meet to talk about spiritual needs and desires, while men prefer to do things for the church.
My mother set the tone emotionally in my family. My dad was silent. So as a boy I learned intutively more about emotional expression from my mother. I had a lot of emotional energy that was expressed either wrongly or never got expressed. It took me many years before I felt there was any significant integration of my thought life with my soul life. This insecurity made me defensive, feeling very inadequate in my self expression of my true self. I had deep gut level feelings that I was not able to give expression to in a healthy way. My inner world was a kind of confusing fog of emotions and negative images. I just didn’t have the words to express what I felt, nor did I have any confidence that I could express it clearly.
I have found that many men are not comfortable talking about their deeper faith issues because their experience in the life of the church has been one of women dominating the discussion. While we need to be thankful for all the women who have passed on the faith to us men, what is so often painfully missing is the male voice and male role model of faith. This absence of the male voice spiritual at home, in society and especially the church, has been very damaging. Men have gone “back in the weeds” spiritually, acknowledging that they are not as spiritual as their wives. How tragic!!
So what should men do? This is where this blog can be of help. I hope that men read some of my stuff and react to it both positively and negatively if need be. For now, here are a few suggestions. First, men don’t beat yourself up spiritually. You are as capable as your wife. We have a God given male perspective that is often diffferent from our wives. 2) Admit that you have neglected your soul. I believe that men will not become whole in Christ till they move from the control tower of the mind into their hearts. 3) Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Sure it is new territory. But Jesus waits for you at the center. 4) Find another guy or a group of guys where you feel safe to be vulnerable about the stuff stirring in your soul. 5) Most of all continue to look up and out to Jesus, asking him to guide you on the journey of inner transformation. Change comes from the inside out. It is his work. We only make ourselves avaliable to him. 6) It must be repeated continually – the way to a man’s heart is through his pain. So ask for grace to see what is there, even if it hurts.