Well, I am on a journey; I have been for some time. We all are, most of us do not realize it. Now that I am sixty-one years old, and missed what I think are life’s best opportunities to take advantage of these phases life throws at us, what am I supposed to do?
I think I am fortunate, in that several years ago one of our men at church stumbled upon the writings of John Eldredge. He pitched his excitement to the men’s ministry leader about the changes that he began to see in his own life, and is now one of the driving forces for change in the hearts of men in our church.
I have been through several of these book studies and I can tell you that change does not happen overnight; it is a process, and I can see changes in me since this aspect of the journey began. We just started the next session of small groups, and mine is reading Fathered by God. Allegedly, we are not supposed to read ahead, but it was recommended that we obtain the free download of the study guide. The immediate admonition in the study guide is to read or reread the first chapter. That makes sense; for how do you answer a question, about which you have no comprehension? I suspect I may have been the only one that did that based on the depth and direction of the conversation at the end of the meeting, as most seemed to focus on how the woman affects their lives and how we need to understand them. This did not even rear its ugly head as I read the first chapter, except that Eldredge points out that we men mistakenly go to the woman to answer the question. In this case, the question seems to be, do I have what it takes.
What I came to realize, once again, was how painfully damaged I am. Every page brought about painful visualizations of childhood interactions, or the lack thereof, that formed me. This is not new information to me, but I have never had a good grasp of how to deal with the damage life has thrown at me.
I recently spoke to the man who leads the mental health ministry in my church. He is a licensed therapist, and I told him about a couple of things that I had recently become aware of in my life. He responded surprisingly fast, saying, you need to get trauma counseling. We are talking damage on the level of PTSD as he described it, and I have never been involved in combat, unless paintball counts. I do not say that to discount PTSD, but I saw a side of myself playing paintball that I never wanted to see again. Thankfully, they were only paint balls. Think about those letters for a moment – Post (after the fact) Traumatic (that can come in so many forms) Stress (the physical and emotional way we react to an experience. Sadly some stresses can be sustained over years for many people) Disorder (I suppose that is a polite way of saying you are messed up. I think I knew that, some people do not. Denial is our worst enemy, but we think it is our friend). This is precisely why I put myself in Celebrate Recovery. I realized I was out of control.
I hate admitting this, but as I read the first chapter, I felt hopeless. I am just saying! I have to believe that being honest and owning who I am or how I feel, is that smartest thing I can do right now. I have heard all the religious garbage I can stand. I understand that God is on my side; not only is He on my side but Jesus is living inside of me, and some day, in the twinkling of an eye, I will be changed as he calls us home. I can hardly wait, for in that moment I will know what sane feels like, finally freed of self-doubts, monetary worries, and the pains of failed relationships.
Next week, chapter two.