I have a bad word to share with you. It’s not an ‘A’ word or a ‘D’ word, it is the ‘P’ word.
We like things finished in an instant. God does some things instantaneously, but He often likes to use process. I have shared some things recently on my journey of being a “recovering Lone Ranger” and was thinking this morning of some of the milestone markers in that process.
Some of these I have already written about, but there has been a process that has lasted for over a decade (really, a life-time). We all have markers along that way that were defining moments in our journey. I love hearing other people’s mile marker moments.
I hope to expand on each of these in the future but these are just a few condensed moments
1992 – Rescued: I made a real decision to trust Christ to rescue me from my path of self-centered living. I was convinced I needed a savior and surrendered to His leadership. I am still learning to follow and that He ALWAYS leads me to great destinations when I do.
2002 – Sonship: I briefly mention this season in the “Slavery to Sonship” post but it was a true life-altering time for me. I was at a place of burnout, frustration and anger with everything and everyone which was really a cover up for being mad at myself for being human and unable to handle life. Through that painful season, I learned that I was 100% accepted and loved by Father God completely separate from how good or bad I was because I was His child. 1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Father God told me, “I don’t want your stuff – the things you do and offer to me – I want your heart, your love.” That was good news because I was failing at everything and it changed my life. I no longer was motivated to try to be something, I was now motivated because I already was someone. (Slavery to Sonship).
2013 – Stuffers Make Buffers: I am skipping a number of years here but, in my mind, 2013 was the next marker for me in my “Tough Guy Detox” process. In the fall of 2013, a good friend invited us to go with him and his wife to a marriage retreat. There were some things Jenn and I learned that weekend that drastically changed our marriage and me as a person.
One of a couple profound things I learned was that I was quite the “Stuffer.” I learned that over time, I decided that not feeling was a good coping mechanism when faced with pain and difficulty. “I’m good. I’m fine. Oh, no that didn’t bother me, it’s cool. I’ll get over it.” Those sound noble and strong but really they are often signs of a fearful heart afraid to risk a mess for the sake of love and connection.
Stuffers make buffers.
Concealing injury may allow me to stay in the game temporarily but it will end my career prematurely.
“Stuffing” seemed like such a good option. It kept drama and emotional messes to a minimum and meant I didn’t have to take much risk in confronting or dealing with issues in my relationships. What I didn’t understand when I decided years ago to “conceal don’t feel” was that not only was I going to keep pain out, I was going to keep love in and although it gave me a false sense of security and safety, because I was disconnected from my heart it also made it difficult to deeply connect with loved ones or for them to feel emotionally connected to me as well. Years ago I saw a video of an MMA fighter that had conditioned his shins over the years by striking objects in such a way that it increased the tolerance and strength of his shin bones to the point he could a wooden major league baseball bat by kicking it with his shins. He didn’t have to tell his shins and bones to “harden”, become tolerant of unthinkable force and numb to pain, it was the body’s automatic response to repeated blows over time. Our heart (soul and emotions) is much the same way. When we are faced with painful life situations that are not resolved and healed in healthy ways of acknowledging, grieving and recieving comfort from Father and others our heart begins to numb and harden. Father revealed to me in this season I had killed my emotions and become numb and He wanted to give me permission to “feel” again and heal my heart to experience emotions again like His does. That sometimes means facing pain instead of running from it but the joy and delight of experiencing comfort from Father and others far outweighs the challenge of facing painful emotions. If you identify with this, you can simply ask Father to reveal anywhere you have numbed your heart and give Him permission or even better an invitation to heal and restore a tender heart like He has.
2016 – Lone Ranger Lives in Danger: I won’t write much about this here, you can read more about this one at Stop Fighting Alone and The Gift of Weakness. The last few years have continued to teach me I am not super man or the Lone Ranger and it is not weak to have needs, it is human. I was designed to be in relationships that give and receive support even to the point that my connection level with others drastically affects us physiologically. I am learning to celebrate others and be celebrated, to be comforted and give comfort to others. I still have a long way to go, but it has been life-giving at a whole new level.
2020-22 – Power, Love and Sanity: 2020 was a crazy year for so many reasons and the uncertainties of that season pressed fears and insecurities out of the depths of our hearts into the light. It was no different for me. In late spring of 2020 I experienced an intense month of overwhelming emotion and fear. There were actually a few days that I told my wife I was going driving and didn’t know when I would be back and then go stare at trees in the woods for a couple hours. I was hanging by a thread mentally with all the emotions of living and leading a church in the height of Covid season. Father was using what the enemy meant for evil to press some more deep fears and insecurities into the light. Father had been teaching me to experience comfort in my emotions personally but there was still a deep fear of man issue could bring insecurity and instability in my emotions if others people around me pressed on me out of their own fears or insecurities. This is still in process but Father is continuing to teach me to stay in His comfort and security even when others around me are not without the pressure to react.
The wonderful and sometimes challenging thing about the “detox process” is that when you think you have arrived there will always be more layers of Father removing fears and insecurities to make us more like His Son who wasn’t a “tough guy” in the worldly sense but was the most unshakeable, courageous man that ever walked the planet. I pray new levels of grace for you wherever you are at today in your process.
I would love to hear your stories. Drop me a note, all you fellow De-tox’ers. Discussion/Study guide below. ….. .
- Your Happy Brain, Connection and the Science Behind It – Our emotional and mental health are greatly impacted by the level of connection in our lives.
- Lone Ranger Assessment – Are you doing life alone? Take the assessment quiz and find out.
- Covenant: In it to Win it
- Purposeful Struggles – by Travis Uptegrove from E26 Men’s Ministry
- Pleasing People – by Madison Bloker
- BREAK IT DOWN: Process it some more with some coffee or friends!
- Do you consider yourself a patient person or do you despise “process” and waiting? Are there some things you don’t mind waiting for? Why?
- Is there something you really like or appreciate in your life, maybe a lesson learned, a relationship, a material blessing, etc., that required a process to get? If so, in a nutshell, how did it begin and how did it end up being what it is today?
- Do you relate to any of the lessons/concepts in the blog (listed a,b,c below)? If so, which ones and how so?
- a. finding value or identity in performance instead of loving and being loved
- b. stuffing or holding emotions and feelings inside because of a fear of vulnerability
- c. handling life’s problems or struggles internally and on your own).
- What is something that you are learning or working to improve in your life right now or in the near future? Is is something that you feel you could or should do on your own or do you believe it would be beneficial to have someone help you in the process? Why or why not?
- Celebrate progress not perfections! Is there something you would say you are grateful that you are not perfect in but have at least made some progress in?
- TAKE AWAY: Invite God to teach and help you with the processes you are in and the things you need to learn and grow in.
Good write up!
Great write up, Bob. You have a gift for articulating things that matter. Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Josh. I am a fan of your work and ministry. I can relate to some of your processes in learning what real manhood looks like. Bless you!