Men come to ManAlive and find hope and freedom through relationships. Guys struggling with anything, like porn, addiction, anger, and all sorts of issues, find that what they needed all along was deep, meaningful connection. Many of the root issues that have plagued their lives revolve around shame and isolation, the very opposite of connection.
On Monday nights, guys dig deep and expose old fears and become vulnerable to another, living breathing human being for the first time. As they uncover shame, joy and hope springs forth. But it’s hard work building real relationships and it often hurts.
Don’t let that hard work, don’t let the pain of getting free keep you from telling others.
Sometimes telling people can be a final piece to the puzzle. You are on a journey to a place where nothing remains hidden and locked away. When you begin sharing the good news of unconditional love, love like Jesus has shown, in action, in your life, it destroys shame and opens connection.
For a long time, I didn’t want people to know, especially my wife’s friends, that I was going to ManAlive. I was working on the shame from my past in group, but the shame of the present was holding me back from the people in my life. I was ashamed of my past and I was ashamed of the cure. I was ashamed of the way that Jesus and Holy Spirt were setting me free. I wanted the amazing encounter with visitations, electricity, and the audible voice of God booming for all to hear. Working through shame felt hard, harsh, and painful, and not at all the way I wanted God to set me free.
I understood the servant in Luke 19:21, the one who went and buried some money. In the story, there was a master who had a capable servant and gave him a sum of money, a bit of treasure, to invest. Go read it for yourself, but when the master came back looking for a return on his investment, the servant basically said “I know you are a harsh master and I was afraid, so I buried what you gave me.” To round out the story, the master was not happy with the buried investment and took it all away from the fearful servant.
Look, I get it, the process is difficult. That servant was speaking the truth, he was fearful and he didn’t want to be exposed to the pain. There was no way I wanted to have more pain either. But that was a passive response and reinforced all the old patterns that got me in trouble to begin with. Burying the issue didn’t end well for the servant, and it wont end well for you or me. The freedom of this room is not meant to remain buried in the room. Two hours in group is not enough to offset the 168 hours that make up the week.
It’s hard to get better if you spend more time isolating, hiding, and burying the shame than you do making connections. If you keep it buried, you risk losing it all.
You and I have a treasure, an investment, that can bring big returns for us and others.
A treasure of relationships. The joy of being fully alive and present with people around you. It is wonderful being truly known and loved right here, right now by people who see your flaws and still choose to be with you. This is a treasure that needs to be shared, it needs to be invested and given and sown, but do not bury it. By all means share with wisdom, and appropriately, just don’t bury the treasure and lose your investment.