Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Deepest Fear; My Greatest Need

So, a couple of nights ago I had a pair of really vivid dreams. They both had the same theme. While there wasn't any graphic content in either one, both focused around me finding a lifetime boyfriend. They were both set shortly after my senior year of High School. In each one, I wasn't actively seeking a boyfriend, but they found me. Both guys were guys I knew from High School (mostly; I have a knack for blending people from real life into a single character in my dreams). Both guys were bigger than me, smarter than me (at least in the dream), and basically had their lives completely put together (again, in the dream). The main point in both dreams was that these guys not only had the ability to keep their act together, but still had energy, time, and love left over for me. I didn't have to worry about anything. They truly wanted me to be with them, even though they were pretty much taking care of me.

When I woke up, the feelings of those dreams were still present and still very powerful. In spite of my attempts to simply forget the dreams, the longing for that sort of relationship lingered well into the day. I was subbing at a school close to where my Dad works, so I sent him a text message asking if I could stop by his work and get a blessing. He agreed. I am so grateful for the prompting I had to ask him. I won't cheapen the sacred nature of our discussion by making it public, but I am truly, deeply thankful for that experience. I felt that our relationship was greatly strengthened and healed. I gained a new respect and appreciation for my father. He truly is a great man.

While the blessing provided a tremendous help and strength to me by lessening the intensity of the feelings and helping me refocus on what I really want and need, namely my wife and family, I still had this feeling that I still needed to resolve the issues that those dreams had brought up. It wasn't until Saturday night and on into Sunday that I was able to untangle the mess of thought and emotions. As I did, I came to a very profound understanding.

I thought about John Eldredge's claim that the central question that every man asks is "Do I have what it takes to be a man?" I realized that I am still asking that question. For a long time, I was convinced that the answer was simply "No." However, over the past couple of years, I have experienced a lot of healing of that wound. That doesn't mean that I have an affirmative answer. Not yet anyway. As I thought about how this insight related to my dreams, I realized that one of the main reasons I was so affected by those dreams had nothing to do with romance or sex. It was a feeling of relief, of relaxation and peace. I contrasted that with my usual, waking state of mind. I am almost always in a constant state of fretting about something. Usually, it has a lot to do with my ability to handle all of my duties, challenges, and obligations; to live up to all the expectations set by myself, others, and even God. It isn't that I'm sure I'm going to fail, I just don't know if I can handle it all. That is a lot of stress. It is a burden that weighs down on me constantly.

It came down to one primary question: "Do I always have to be 'the man?'" Do I always have to step up, cowboy up, soldier up, be strong, be tough? Do I have to always have to do my best, perform at the very top of my ability? Do I have to get everything done? Doesn't my failure to live up to these obligations make me less of a man? What if I don't want to always be busting my balls to live up to everything that is expected of me?

If the answer is "yes," then I want to know why I feel so daunted and overwhelmed by that task. More importantly, how do I get to a place where I am comfortable with that? It seems so foreign to my nature to always be the go getter and on top of everything. If God expects that of me, how do I get there? I have to believe that He doesnt' expect anything out of me without Him providing a way for me to do it. So, how is he going to help me? What do I need to do to access that help?

If on the other hand is, "No, I don't always have to be in control and be the strong one," then to whom to I defer that obligation? It there a specific time when deferring is acceptable? How do I do that? I know that I can not find the answer in Eve. If I turn to Eve to find my strength, it not only isn't going to work, it's going to blow up in my face hard core. It will always feel wrong and awkward and will sap what little masculine strength I do have.

I am not okay without the safety and confidence that comes from knowing I have what it takes to do all that is expected of me. When I am in a place where I feel uncertain about my capability (a place where I am almost always, even though I'm not always aware of that feeling), I am usually looking to bring some essence of masculine power into my being. It can feel so real and satisfying to try to complete myself through an intimate relationship with another man--one who is capable, powerful strong, so much so that he has time, energy and love for me. That He wants to be in that relationship with me. That he not only has the capability to compensate for my weaknesses, shortcomings, and failings, he actually wants to.

So when I was writing down those thoughts, I realized 2 things.

1) It isn't terribly likely that I am going to find a man like that. I'm not saying it is impossible. It's just that even if there is a man out there who is like that, the chances that he would go for me. . . . . pretty slim. Plus, I have a pretty damn firm testimony that that isn't going to work out like I want. I know that God's plan is for man to have a family and doesn't include romantic or sexual relationships with other men.

2) There is a Man who fits the bill perfectly. Even better, not only does an intimate relationship work in the Plan, it is the Plan.

So, I came to the conclusion that there have to be times when I can relax. When I have to be okay with the fact that I am not going to live up to every expectation. But rather than turning to another mortal man to make up for those shortcomings, I have to trust in God and my Savior. I have to turn my stress and fear over to them. I have to learn to be more understanding and forgiving of myself. I have to learn to feel His love and support; his acceptance and encouragement.

At the same time, I have to trust in His ability to transform me--over the long haul; in time; eventually--into just that sort of man. One who is perfectly capable of doing everything, having no stress about it, and still having the time, energy and love to care for others. As I learn to connect with and develop the King and Warrior that is with in me, that is part of my divine nature, I will feel more comfortable being the man I am meant to be. Until then, I have to let Him be the Man.

So my tasks from here:

1) Figure out how to transform my desires for that relationship being a sexual one with a mortal man into that of an older brother and Savior with Jesus Christ.

2) Find out how to feel of his love and support in those times when I don't have the energy to be everything, and feel his confidence and encouragement when I just don't feel like I do.

3) Learn how to access my Warrior.

4) Learn how to connect with my King.

5) Find out what this struggle is trying to tell me about my self. Eldredge claims that the Adversary has strategically placed our woulds in the place where he can best maximize the damage, where he is most likely to be able to thwart our true purpose and calling. What does that say about my purpose and calling?


Bravone said...

Wow Kev, I get a headache just reading how deeply you think! You are already the man you need to be. You nailed it yourself, He will make up any deficiency as we turn our lives over to Him.

Anonymous said...


There's a lot about what you've written that resonates with my own experiences. For what it's worth, it's my experience that the process of being a husband and father can, over time, exercise significant healing, though I was well into my 40s and had to spend a lot of time in self-examination and reflection on my childhood, my growing up, and the sources of my own emotional needs before I started to reach a point of peace on this issue. In the meantime, simply holding out the hope that God could help resolve things that I couldn't figure out on my own helped me get through the tough times.

It's easy to decide that the pull of different pressures and desires is too much and that a person should just walk away (from Church, marriage, etc.). It's harder, but ultimately more rewarding, to stick in there in the trust that God can make a way through, even if we can't see what that way is.