The Way of the Wild Heart, Ch 2: True Son of a True Father

In the previous chapter to this, John explains the various stages of a man’s life.  We’ll come back to those.

It’s this opening to Chapter 2 that caught me by surprise tonight.  In the context of myself as a man, and one who has fought to understand and define his sense of masculinity for his entire life, this was like running into a brick wall:

FATHERLESS

You are the son of a kind, strong, and engaged Father, a Father wise enough to guide you in the Way, generous enough to provide for your journey, offering to walk with you every step.

This is perhaps the hardest thing for us to believe—really believe, down deep in our hearts, so that it changes us forever, changes the way we approach every day.

Of the thousands of conversations I’ve had with men over the years, in a counseling office or around a campfire, and of all the personal struggles that fill the pages of my own journals, I believe this is the core issue of our shared dilemma as men.  We just don’t believe it.  Our core assumptions about the world boil down to this: we are on our own to make life work.  We are not watched over.  We are not cared for.  Whatever our fathers might have provided, we are not much different now than Balian at the start of his story.  When we are hit with a problem, we have to figure it out ourselves, or just take the hit.  If anything good is going to come our way, we’re the ones who are going to have to arrange for it.  Many of us have called upon God as Father, but, frankly, he doesn’t seem to have heard.  We’re not sure why.  Maybe we didn’t do it right.  Maybe he’s about more important matters.  Whatever the reason, our experience of this world has framed our approach to life.  We believe we are fatherless.

You realize, of course, this is the last thing I wanted to hear.  And probably the deepest, most intense thing I desire.  Part of the horrors of my past was how much of my strength I sold out in the name of finding that sort of fatherly, brotherly masculine image in my life.  But to be that man, I think we first must allow ourselves to be re-fathered.  Or for some of us, fathered for the first time.  That’s not a comfortable place to be, because it means a humility that must come from a position of vulnerability, and vulnerability is the first thing to go when you are in a full-on survival mode.  To find that freedom means a sacrifice of that protective, hard-as-nails colorful candy shell that protects us from opening up about the pain that this need caused.

Christ never promises that this journey is going to be easy.  He goes on to list several current popular stories: Lord of the Rings, Lion King, Prince of Egypt, in which these various stages can be seen, and each one of these journeys has an inherent amount of danger involved.  I wonder, in this day and age where instant gratification takes too long, if we’re both able to be vulnerable enough and patient enough to be re-fathered in the middle of our overly-busy days.  Can we find the time to stop?  Breathe?  Pray?  Wait?  To find others who have taken this journey before our time, and perhaps have the courage not only to make that journey for ourselves, but for the sons, cousins, nephews, and the other men who will come after us, so that they might have something we did not?

I think about that a lot.  I am a brother, a son, an uncle.  Each one of those titles holds a different responsibility.  In the context of my finding my masculinity and defining it more clearly, and being patient enough and vulnerable enough for God to lead me on this journey, I’m going to have to revisit those relationships and find out what needs to be done there in order to not just bring healing to myself, but to those men who are in those relationships with me.

Am I that vulnerable and that patient?  I don’t know.  There’s really no way to find out but to go through it and just DO it.  Do and trust.  It’s gotten me this far.

So what think you?  IS this the central shared dilemma we have as men in the age of iPods and Starbucks and online sermons?  Do we believe God will really, truly re-father us in ways that we long for? ache for? and inappropriately sexualize?

Talk to me.

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~ by WriterRand on February 19, 2007.

3 Responses to “The Way of the Wild Heart, Ch 2: True Son of a True Father”

  1. I completely believe it, though I have yet to completely internalize that belief. Looking back on what God has done in only eight months to restore my image, there’s no question that He is going to continue the work. However, as you accurately stated, it’s a matter of time — our healing is a series of experiences, spread out over time. Often I find myself saying “what now?” but those are the best times to rejoice, rest, and prepare for the next step along this journey.

  2. Yes, God will father us in all the ways we need. In my own life, He has often done that in ways that surprised me. Sometimes he gives strength through day-to-day prayer, sometimes He allows pain into my experience so I desperately cry out to Him. Also, he shows His love through other christians.

    It often takes time and many of these encounters with God, but He is faithful to lead us, His children, out of sin. My advice is to take our wounds to Him in prayer and meditation on His Word.

  3. I pray, more than ever, that I can comprehend that I serve a God that DELIGHTS in me. A God that rejoices when I rejoice. A God who sheds tears over my sorrows and agony. A God who longs to see me stronger so I can fight fiercer in the ongoing spiritual battle we call life.

    The book is sensational. More to come.

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