Inner Obsessions, Fantasies, and Thoughts Tell Our Real Stories
Our shock and surprise when a person we thought we knew gets caught doing something we thought they would never do is the first indicator we are prone to measure the wrong things. I have stopped counting the number of men perceived as leaders, role models, and mentors who get served up in the news cycle as sexually untrustworthy, deviant, undisciplined, or a mixture of all three. The curse of the public figure is that he has a swarm of media hyenas salivating over a good public image going morally and sexually south. Think Tiger. Think Weiner. Think Petraeus. Think Clinton. Think post humus Kennedy. All of them had a thought life racing around on the inside while their public personas, popularity, and the paparazzi swirled around their outsides. The dots outlining their “good-bad splits” were never connected and no one was asking them any questions about their inner life. Too much power and pedestal going on to do that. Too much private obsession of our own going on to feel justified in asking. Too many core aspects of a man’s life going unexamined and unchallenged.
The overwhelming evidence suggests that men are like icebergs, only presenting the tip of who we really are to our social networks while the substance of our true selves remains hidden below the waterline. The growing, multi-billion dollar, and ever expanding porn universe should be our first indicator that all is not well behind the public images and behaviors of men. For even the most religiously and spiritually motivated over 70 percent are more than sippers and dabblers of porn (Source: PK Study of men attending conferences). Over half of 5,000 pastors surveyed had consumed pornography within the last 3 months (Source: Pastors.com Study). The domino effect flowing out of the unseen, unexamined, inner obsessions of men eventually and inevitably tsunami their outer lives. The private fantasies will become public, the insides will be acted out on the outsides, and beliefs will always manifest in behaviors. The blast zone is far reaching. The inner obsessions and fantasies of men wind up incinerating marriages, confusing children prematurely, and contributing to overall masculine fatalism in women. When the good guys among us are slugging it out to be mentally clean and spiritually filled get lumped in with the bad guys.
My ability to become angry amazes me.
Someone or something trivial will trigger it. It’s my reaction to feeling thwarted in some way however serious or ridiculous. I trip over my wife’s heels on the way to the closet. Ugh! Somebody cuts in front of me on the freeway. Really? My schedule or plan gets interrupted or redirected. You’ve got to be kidding me. I get asked to do something I didn’t plan on doing. What? A project takes way too long because I am not the one in charge of it. This is ridiculous. I get a “no” when I thought for sure I would get a “yes” to my request. Unbelievable. Sensations, words, and feelings seize my body in those moments. Before I even have a second to think about things, there it is. I am “hot” about someone, somebody, or something. Anger in this sense is not bad, not a sin, and is functioning the way it should. I am being alerted to an obstruction of my will. The problem is that all anger contains some level of malice. It’s this aspect of anger that can act like an aggressive cancer and spread quickly because it includes an intent to harm. All anger is harmful which is why we don’t like it when we know people are angry with us. At some level they want some kind of correction or harm to befall us. Again, the abiding and unseen presence of anger in any relationship is a cancer and once spotted has to be radiated quickly.
- Mon Jun 24, 2013
- 6 comments
“What will they think of me?”
I must have asked myself this question subconsciously a million times—in seventh grade. Heck, I even fretted over how to articulate saying “here” during roll call my first day of school at Miller Junior High. Twelve and self-conscious is expected. My daily social fears clearly indicated one thing: I wasn’t secure personally, emotionally, or morally. I had not solved the identity and acceptance issues yet. “Growing up” would mean landing on a way to be, believe, and behave that helped me land the Holy Grail of adolescence: acceptance. The hunt was afoot and the chase was on to avoid rejection and secure “popular.” Observe the right words. Observe the right clothes. Observe the right social connections. Observe the prevalent morality. Then fit in. Acceptance had a cost but the prize was worth the price. Innocently, I started off feeling the promise of popular but then came the pain. Pain not just for me but, by default, for those who didn’t fit into my new worldview. They got a label, were rejected, and sentenced to isolation. The broken quest for approval and popularity through the teen years put me in harms way more times than I want to remember, hurt others, and pressed me into moral choices I would rather forget. “Fitting in” and trusting youth culture to “show me the way” personally or morally should have never been a goal. I became less of a man and less mature because a life formed around pop-culture or popularity is always synonymous with a weak and destructive morality one hundred percent of the time.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was officially and publicly pimped today. The pimper? Popular and energetically propagated moral
WE ARE GETTING PIMPED
Mark has been a Christian for three years. His story is short and sweet. His faith began when a co-worker invited him to a concert sponsored by his church. The music was awesome and allowed him to relax in a church environment in a way he didn’t think was possible. His soul was being touched and when the singer opened his mouth about Christ it was like an episode
of Lost. A flash forward envisioned a relationship with Christ forever. A flash backwards brought up painful and regrettable choices that could now be dealt with definitively. A flash sideways projected a lifestyle that could be better than the one he now lived. It all added up and he went “all in” for Jesus that night. When I met him at a men’s conference a few years later I chalked him up as a dedicated, growing man of God. That’s why the next chapter of the story confused me.
Less Middle Ground Forces Faithful Men to Choose
No way out.
The military term is called encirclement. Think Thermopylae, Little Big Horn, Dunkirk, or Stalingrad. No supplies can be received. No reinforcements are coming. No retreat is permitted or possible. One side has lost its freedom of maneuver because the opposing force is able to isolate it by controlling all ground lines of communication and reinforcement. No man, no unit, and no army intentionally chooses to be in this position. It is usually the result of the tide of battle turning.
Three (and only three) options are available to you: break out, fight to the death, or surrender.
Deciding not to decide is not an option.
You may not be deployed in Baghdad or Kabul or along the Korean DMZ at the moment but make no mistake: as a man of God your back is against the wall. Your personal world may have avoided direct exposure to the growing cultural conflict for now but it’s coming to every believer’s porch. For some of you it’s coming “Next Day Air” and you don’t even know it. In this hour, no amount of complaining politically or cocooning socially with fellow believers will be enough. You will have to stand.