What Everyone (And No One) Is Talking About – Guest Writer

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. This week my wife was feeling a stirring in her heart to share some of her own thoughts on issues that we are both passionate about. I’m super proud of her boldness and ability to articulate from an honest, compassionate, heartfelt standpoint on a controversial issue that continues to be such a joked-about, casual, pop-culture reference. Maybe we aren’t the ideal problem-solvers, but perhaps her and I can get the conversation started. Without further delay, I introduce you to my beautiful bride, Allie Meyer, and her writing in the form of a guest-blog post.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what’s a video worth? Video is pictures frame-by-frame that flash by so fast, they appear they’re actually moving. So, does that make a video worth ten thousand words or even a million words? Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth nothing at all. When the things that you’re seeing and watching can cause you to stumble, is it worth it?

There is a topic that has been looming around in my head lately and it’s a topic that simultaneously is both never talked about and always talked about is pornography. It’s a topic that people freely joke about with friends or is alluded to on the radio but yet also is kept in secret and like a skeleton in our closets. I suppose it’s also a topic that rarely gets any air time with parents talking to their children or people reaching out to ask for help when they feel like they’re trapped in it or it’s consuming them.

I grew up in a Christian home, but I also went to a public high school. I of course had the uncomfortable “birds and bees” talk at home and the “how to not get STD’s” talk at school. But a topic that wasn’t ever discussed in either of those was porn and the complications that it can add to your life. The stress it can add to your relationships. The shame, depression, and anxiety it causes to your overall well-being, and not to mention, the isolation it will eventually produce.

Now let me set this straight: I’ve honestly never struggled with any of these things nor have I ever sought out any type of pornographic content. I have however, been subjected to Hollywood’s decision to include some kind of sexual content in every movie. That’s not necessarily porn, but in the end, was it necessary? (This is a whole other post, but a good point nonetheless.) I digress…

So needless to say, porn wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. It wasn’t until someone close to me opened up about their addiction to it and their struggles that I ever really understood what it was. Here it is – a billion-dollar industry in our world, and I literally had little idea it existed or what it even consisted of. In the moment I played it off as though I knew what they were talking about, but deep down I felt so naïve and like this was a foreign place they were talking about. Unfortunately, it’s something that I’ve gathered more knowledge about and learned why this addiction is so rampant in our world. It’s rampant because it’s so readily accessible by literally anyone. Think about how easy it is to search things on YouTube, or how hashtags have changed the way you browse social media. Teenagers can have unlimited access to content that they shouldn’t with just a click of a button. This causes there to be millions and millions of people out there consumed by lust and this addiction, but likely there are also millions who are naïve like I was.

Why is that?

I think it all goes back to awareness. It never was mentioned growing up. Not at home, school, church, etc. All of my friends could have been struggling with it for that matter and I could have never known. I think that we, as not just Christian people, not just one political party, not as one gender; we just as people need to talk and do something about it. What that something is I don’t know, but we can’t continue to allow people to fall into this trap of lies and loneliness.  How can we as humans rally together to create awareness and support those who are struggling, those who are directly affected by it, and those who haven’t been exposed but can be spared the turmoil and heartache?

I believe that personally my heart is drawn to those who are just bystanders. The people who are spouses of addicts. The people whose relationships are fragile because their partner used to struggle with it. The kids who might learn what porn is from some jokes shared at school and never hear what terrible things that this new addiction could lead to. I feel led to find ways to be a listening ear to those who feel they can’t trust their spouse as well as be an advocate for those who might not know what problems it can cause until they’re in deep.

I often pray for those struggling and ask God why can’t he do something about it. But I feel like God is asking me “What can you do about it?”. So here I sit, not a writer of any sort asking you to help me find ways to bring attention to a topic that has been in the dark for far too long and how to bring it into the light. With the dark being such a lonely place, the only way out is through relationships and Jesus. We ALL have to be vulnerable if we ever want to beat this thing head on. When we bring things into the light others can be praying and guiding you. Let’s unite together to leave those movies worth no words in the darkness, and bring all people into the light.

Vulnerability

I See Greatness In You

I asked God to speak to me today. In prayer, out loud – I said, “Lord, I want to hear your voice – to feel your presence and to know that you are for me.” And I waited on the Lord; I waited for Him to come. And He didn’t…Not right away, anyways.

But somehow, going through the motions of the day, Allie and I began to open up – sharing deeper and deeper longings and dreams in our hearts and taking the time to intentionally ask questions and seek out more intimate truths. Walking further into the caverns of each other and finding precious rubies in each others hearts.

Vulnerable moments. The kind that make you hesitate before you share. The impulse comes and you begin to speak but doubt clouds your judgment and stills your tongue – wait a couple moments longer and you’ll be silenced – and then again the words come to your lips, you take a leap of faith and let them escape, exposing yourself to the other’s impact.

In that moment, you’ve chosen to be known.

And insecure fear can race into your mind, forcing you to wonder whether or not you should have shared that intimate part of yourself.

And in those moments today, we both found Jesus looking back at us – the other listened, asked questions, and went to the King as their mediator, gently refusing to pass judgment or throw the first stone.

“I see greatness in you.”

“I see greatness in you,” my wife said as we paused and reflected on the wonderful day of sharing that we had experienced together. “It’s the moments you’ve taken in your life to be vulnerable with others and listened to their counsel that have led to your greatness today, and more greatness to come.” (Slightly paraphrasing. But the message was clear, straight from the Lord. Two separate messages. First – a playful, “I heard your prayer and answered it. Didn’t I?” Because He spoke to me, clearly, plainly, and beautifully – just in a different way than I had expected. The second message became clearer the more I meditated on the words my wife had spoken. “I’m proud of you, son.”)

“I’m proud of you, son.”

Unashamed. The Lord, my King and Father, is unashamed of me. He isn’t passing judgement on my weight or lack of income recently due to poor sales or my insecure worrying and constant pleas for others to pray for me, because of my disbelief in the effectiveness of my own prayers. He isn’t saying, “Go read one more chapter of the Bible and then I’ll pour out my love and affection upon you.”

The story of the prodigal son is true. It’s my story and it can be yours true. A ragamuffin, troubled by the thorn in Paul’s side, recovering from addiction to counterfeit affections by God’s grace. Every memory of hurt and torment, every word of abuse, every fragile friendship that experienced abandonment, Jesus has offered to take those from me and to replace them with His love. All I had to do was let Him in. Never once after letting Him in has He cursed me with residency in my past, dooming me to a life of shame. Rather, He’s freed me from my shackles and shown me His powerful mercy and grace. To the point that my beautiful, outstanding, strong, faithful, kind, merciful, Christ-like wife said, “I see greatness in you.”

Words that melted my heart, softened me to His Love. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. I’m accepting myself because He accepts me – not as an acquaintance and not even as a distance friend, but as a son – a son that He is proud of.

vulnerability

Ramblings on Manhood

The title says it all – I am going to “think out loud” and piece together what I have been learning over the last month. None of this is edited and primed for a book, but that is the beauty of a blog. Disclaimer stated, allow me to forge forward.

Let’s talk.

There is an absence of realness within the realm of men. Big ideas and vision come forth and words of wisdom are spoken, but little action is taken, and even fewer relationships built around truth. It is easier for guys to gather and watch football games and to avoid getting into one another’s lives. Trust me, I can watch a Chief’s game with the best of them, and when the NFL season comes around again, I’ll find a way to be in Arrowhead at least once this coming year. However, there simply has to be more to man-to-man relationships than beer, food, and sports. And I do appreciate all of those things.

What are the roadblocks that keep men from connecting?

I’ll lead by example. Here are some of the things that keep me from true fellowship (at times):

I am fearful. While transparent most of the time, it is difficult to get to a deeper level with others at times. If you know all of me – all of my insecurities, sin hiccups, and desires/dreams, then you may think I’m crazy. There are few that I would like to trust with all of that. Not to mention, it is much easier to remain commander-in-chief of myself – to be the only one that knows all of my secrets.

I think men operate this way, a lot. In order to save-face, we avoid showing our face. Yes, you see us at church, and sure, we showed up to the Men’s Retreat, but we slip out the back-door right afterward and awkwardly avoid putting our phone-number on the list of contacts, because that would mean that someone might get to know who we actually are – and there’s a chance they may not like that. In other words – On the altar of reputation, we sacrifice relationship – putting discipleship to death.

This should not be. We need each other. There need to be those people in our lives that know our crap, so they can get down in the trenches with us, clean us up, and get a group together to lift us up out of the pit with prayer. 

Which brings me to my next discovery. We have unwittingly bred a generation of passive men. In the spirit of not hurting anyone, or ruffling anyone’s feathers, we’ve emasculated manly strength, and invited authentic manhood into silent exile. However, in the spirit of truth and redeeming the lifeblood of The Church, it is time to call the men back out – to heal, restore, and utilize their strength. You cannot (or at least shouldn’t) tame a lion, but you can appreciate its strength. A champion horse is only champion when it’s gone thru the hard work of training to win the race.

We need strong men in the church – not ones that will manipulate and coerce, but ones that are willing to boldly speak truth into the lives of others, take the time necessary to sacrificially love and disciple others, and use their resources/strength to serve. This is no small task. It requires training. It will take time, prayer, study, relationships, and lots and lots of practice. Because, let’s face it – this is something that does not come naturally.

I believe this requires a great deal of love.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)

Being vulnerable is hard. It leaves you open and available, and leaves the possibility of being hurt wide-open. It’s much easier to stay hidden – for no one to know us. Isolation is safer (in our eyes), because at least no one can stab us in the back. The problem with this theory is that satan loves the isolated – they make extremely easy targets for depression, doubt, fear, and others dark clouds that ultimately lead to one’s faith being snuffed. Therefore, isolation is not safer, wiser, or best – it is in fact the absolute worst idea ever. Do NOT become isolated. The walls you build to “protect” yourself do just the opposite – they hurt you, sometimes leading to spiritual suicide.

Friends, we must love. We must embrace vulnerability and find ourselves stronger in the LORD for it. If we submit to the LORD and find our identity secured in Him, then serving and following others will no longer be considered a loss of ourselves, but rather, an act of worship – offering our bodies as living sacrifices for a Holy God.

Men younger than you (spiritually or physically) need your leadership, but you must also lay aside your pride and seek out someone older as a mentor – someone to whom you will allow some spiritual-authority in your life. A leader that is not also being led should not be trusted – for his pride will be his downfall, and his lack of accountability a snake waiting to strike his heel.

I am not an expert. I am still a young man seeking out a mentor of my own – getting plugged in and looking for faithful younger men to lead. I’m still learning. But these are some of the thoughts the Lord has placed on my heart, and I wanted to share them.