(An “Own It” Series for Dudes…series resurrected. Four previous posts were August-October 2017)
Based on current reads and also interactions with dudes, it’s time to address a thing-the glaring decline in strong dudes. It’s a thing.
I’m not talking about physical strength. There’s probably an increase there thanks to gyms and fitness addicts. I’m talking about the rest of a dude’s strength-emotional, mental, spiritual-which are more important to build and maintain. So it makes sense that if they are more important, then they require more attention and intention. That’s work. Hard work. And it appears it’s not happening for many dudes.
Why is that? Let’s be honest. Working on strengthening your emotional, mental, and spiritual muscles has the stigma of being soft. Guess what…that’s shame messaging coming from the grunt section. How can something that requires hard work be soft, particularly if it brings you more holistic strength? I counter that not working on these areas is the real characterization of being soft.
If you’re up for it-the hard work of strengthening all of you-here are ten questions to get you started:
- What was the last yes you gave God?
- When did you last purposefully do something emotionally or spiritually uncomfortable?
- How do you manage your fight or flight tendencies?
- How are you addressing your present doubts and fears?
- How much say does God have in your decisions?
- What have you learned about yourself in the last three months?
- How are you engaging what you don’t understand about culture, relationships, or God?
- What was the last intentional change you made?
- What other dudes know you don’t want to be soft?
- What’s your level of being all in?
What other questions could you ask yourself to bolster your emotional, mental, and spiritual strength? Who can help you engage these questions? What will your fitness plan be to stop being soft?
Amalia is her name. She hadn’t really thought about the story she was telling, until she was asked. At least that’s what she said. But when she started answering, she voiced an important story. The story is found in her drawing.
Amalia said the story is about a broken girl who made a choice that has made her “unfixable.” She summed it up by her definition of the butterfly effect. I had my definition of that term, but I wanted to know hers. So I asked. And she answered, “One choice you choose can change everything in your life.” She’s certainly right.
Amalia didn’t know because we just met today, but I’ve been thinking along those lines a bit lately. My thoughts have been less about life-altering decisions and more about day-to-day decisions, which of course can lead to life-altering ones. All your “yeses” mean something to you, about you. Every “no” speaks to who you are and what you value. And each of both of those impact everyone in your world. Like it or not, they leave a wake that is its own butterfly effect.
Thank you, Amalia, for this visual reminder. To hear our full conversation about this drawing , visit https://www.facebook.com/firstpassage/
(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)
“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.” Proverbs 4:18 HCSB
The imagery of the path’s light getting brighter and brighter as the morning progresses seems to go along with the truth that spiritual growth is a process.
The more you walk in righteousness the clearer choices/decisions seem to be.
The more you seek God the closer he seems to be.
At salvation, you come out of the darkness. Sure, it can seem quite bright at first. But walking the path of sanctification only brings more brilliance.
Walk On to the Midday!
In making decisions currently, I have not asked where I am to be or what I am to do, but what it is that God is calling me to become. (p. 103, The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith)
Today’s blog and the following one will be based on thoughts from this book I’m finishing:
This quote resonated with me because it’s a question I’ve wandered in and out of over the past decade. It seems, as we go through stages/seasons of life, this would be a great question to keep in front of us. It’s very possible that the answer will change as we journey and grow.
So here is what I wrote in my journal on March 8 to answer the question, What is God Calling Me to Become:
- A lover of all people
- A helper to the wanderer
- A friend to my colleagues
- A present dweller
- A faster forgiver
- A questioner rather than a teller
- A relaxed worker
- A Spirit listener
- A dependent child
- A contented kingdom dweller
What is God Calling You to Become?
Just because you make one statement or decision of commitment doesn’t put you in autopilot for the rest of your life. You aren’t clear of ever having to restate or redecide you will follow through. For example, Brad Johnson wrote about this in his book on forgiveness. When Jesus said we should forgive 7×70, he was talking about more than just the surrendering of the spirit. He was also talking about understanding follow through is a process that might take a while. It’s very much understanding the discipline of daily carrying your cross.
- Like a runner who has to continuously set the alarm clock for dark thirty
- Or the husband who has to choose to listen attentively rather than hold the hand up because it’s 3rd and long
- Or the nursing student who might have to try one last time to pass anatomy to move forward in the program
Laying it down the first time probably was a big deal. Maturing to the place where you know laying it down is an ongoing journey is a whole different level of big deal.
Chris Tomlin’s “Lay It Down” speaks into this subject very well:
With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Hear my song, hear my cry
I will bring a sacrifice
I lay me down I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down, lay me down
Hand on my heart this much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down, lay me down
Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine
It will be my joy to say Your will Your way always
I’m reading “It Ain’t Over till It’s Over” by R.T. Kendall. In chapter 1, he references the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.
At Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham slept with her handmaid, Hagar, in an effort to make things happen-to make good God’s promise to him. All that was needed, they reasoned, was that the baby be male.
This wording made me think about something for the first time. What was the nine months before Hagar gave birth like for all three of these people? And then, when it was a boy, what was their reaction toward God?
- During the nine months, “Did we do the right thing?” After the birth, “I guess so. Thank you, God!”
- During the nine months, “What if it’s a girl?” After the birth, “God, I shouldn’t have doubted you.”
- During the nine months, “Was this God’s direction or our manipulation?” After the birth, “I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
It wasn’t until 13 years later that they knew they had been wrong. How could this have been avoided? How can we avoid the same path, years of wrong? Suggestions:
- Major decisions must be rooted in peace from time spent with God.
- Be honest with yourself and God. If you’ve come up with the decision out of weariness or impatience, confess that to God before moving in that direction.
- Admit often to God that you trust in His ways and His thoughts, even though you don’t always see or understand them.
- “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” – check this decision in where it ranks in God’s priorities for your life.
- Be ready and “quick to the draw” to own any wrong steps you take. Get back on the path ASAP.