Great blog written by a great man. Rodger Gaskin:
I am part of “Man Alive,” Bethel Church’s men’s group, about 300 men strong, which focuses on leading men into godly maturity, purity, and wholeness. We started having our annual “Manifest” retreat a few years ago. They are great fun and a place where men are challenged to embrace truth and be a bit more wild. And, we eat really well!!!
The first evening of one retreat I found myself walking across a soccer field with a young man as we headed to dinner. He looked at me and said, “Rodger, I don’t know how to be a man.”
I was completely shocked.
This young man has a ruggedly handsome face and a lean muscular body. He has a beautiful wife and precious children. He had a job that enabled him to take care of his family’s needs. He loves God. How could he not know what it was to be a man, he was being a man.
Two things immediately struck me. First, why would he share this intimate fear with me? He knew I struggled with homosexuality. How could I help him, I needed his help. Second, a lie I had long believed was exposed. My young friend who had never struggled with homosexuality was struggling with the same thing I struggled with. The lie is that my struggle was unique, special, and profoundly different than all other men’s struggles, especially men like my young friend. And, I had nothing to offer to him. Our struggle was a deep uncertainty about masculinity, our masculine identity. What is a man and how does it feel?
As we walked I felt God’s presence but it wasn’t that great peace I was familiar with. It was his presence that challenges me to go beyond myself, see beyond myself. It’s that presence that requires me to believe and do what I’m afraid of.
In that moment I saw that my distorted view of myself blinded me to what my young friend saw clearly. He found in me a man with whom he could share his hidden fears. And, he saw in me a level of masculinity that drew him to me, in that moment he was trusting that I would “father” him. This required me to believe and to take action.
I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder (this was easy as he was walking very close to me). I acknowledged his feelings. I encouraged him he was more than enough to face his fears and that he was so much more than he realized. I told him what he had just done, sharing his secretive fear, was a powerful demonstration of masculinity. Men don’t hide and we face we our fears. And, I assured him that he was not alone, we would keep walking together.
This encounter has lead to a profound realization. As a man who struggled with homosexuality, I thought all of what I struggled with was uniquely a “homosexual struggle.” Certainly, I believed, men who weren’t sexual drawn to other men did not struggle with the same “stuff” as I did. What came to light is that most of what I struggle with is not unique to same sex attracted men, but it is common to all men.
Most men struggle with fears of some kind. Many men struggle with what it is to be a man, what it is to be masculine. All men have a sexual appetite they must manage. Many men struggle with the fear that they are not enough of a man to meet a wife’s desires, adequately care for a family, or be a good father. Many men are afraid they don’t measure up to other men, whether it is the speed of their car, size of their wallet, or the length of their penis. Many men long for friendships with other men but are crippled by the fear of rejection. The little boy in us is looking for other boys to conquer the world, to be friends.
I am no longer alone in my struggles. Even the things that are “unique” are not uncommon. As I have thrown away the lie that I was uniquely broken, I have found that my community is equipped to minister to me (us). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12 that when the church comes together Holy Spirit gives gifts for the common good. These gifts bring insight, encouragement, and healing. The gifted church brings healing and freedom to all in need.
I pray that today you will experience God’s presence calling you to truth and that you act on it. I pray that you reject the lie that you are not uniquely broken and therefore “unfixable.” Instead, I pray you see your struggles are common therefore there are many who can walk with you towards wholeness. And, I pray that you remember that God our father, the Lord Jesus our savior, and Holy Spirit our empowering comforter is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us!!!