Tag Archives: Masculinity

September 12th, 2009

Something is beginning to change. Something significant. A “big” move:

Glaciers calving

Volcanoes erupting

Comets passing by

Not just seasonal changes.

I’m different than I used to be. It has something to do with being older, yes, but it has more to do with having lost and still being left here. I was supposed to die earlier. The story is over, the cast and crew have left, but I’m still here ready to hit my mark and play my role.

I turn around and I realize I am the grown-up. I’m not playing the roles I was made to play anymore. I now choose my own roles.

There are still expectations though.

Chronology has some value: There’s some shit you just can’t know until you’ve been around for 45 years and people who have only been around 20 or 30 depend on you for that knowledge.

But it’s more than that.  There is an entire generation of absent men in front of me. Fathers, husbands, teachers and leaders who have abandoned their posts. They have failed those who were put in their charge. 2 or 3 generations of progress, affluence, plenty and self-focus have robbed people my age and younger of those who would teach us, serve us and show us the way.

There are a handful of men (all at least a little younger than me) who are explicitly expressing a father- need, and are asking me to fill it somehow. Perhaps it’s as simple as sharing the gift of MY father, the things he gave me, with those who didn’t get it. Perhaps it’s about being old enough to be seen as a father-figure and perhaps it’s about having some scars that indicate you have some experience worth sharing.

The old Native American tale of a man’s maturing charts the change from whirling, passionate but in-effective white horse in one’s third decade, to busy, effective but selfish red horse in the fourth decade, to powerful, slower moving and wise black horse in the fifth decade.

Qualities of a Black Horse (largely as taught by Alick):

The quality of the BLACK horse life is not based on what we acquire (expectations) but what we let go of.

The BLACK horse knows the living reality of the beatitudes: BLACK horses are living their purity, they have come to terms with sin (Prov. 28:13) they have moved beyond a simple, sin-based economy and so are capable of being  non-judgmental.

BLACK horses have done their forsaking.

I am forsaking my citizenship in the Modern World with it’s formulae and empty promises of peace and joy through achievement and “progress”. I’m also forsaking the Post-Modern World with it’s contempt for truth, and  it’s self-indulgence dressed up to look like “tolerance”.

I’m choosing to live in the margins. In a liminal space where there is MUCH to be forsaken.

One of the things I am increasingly willing to forsake: doctrine. Not “Capital D” doctrine meaning the things I know to be true, but small “d” doctrine meaning the IDEA that God can be placed inside a box that I can fully hold in my head.  So much effort, in so many religious and even non-religious contexts is spent on trying to get God surrounded and tamed; quantified and measured.

Some of that motive is noble, like a man truly in love who wants to study his woman, wants to KNOW her. But most of it is about control, about the need to be RIGHT instead the desire for truth.

I admire people who are willing to be wrong, and I’m learning that they can be trusted. I am less willing to place my trust and give my heart to those who always seem to find a way to come out on the winning side. Something important had to die to make that many “wins” possible. I’m beginning to suspect that “success” in our post-modern context is simply about being good at hiding the bodies.

…which leads me back to a BLACK horse forsakeable I mentioned earlier: Progress. Achievement. Bigness.  I haven’t found one word that describes exactly what I am willing to forsake here…but those words surround it. I’ve actually been walking down this road of forsaking for some time, but only recently recognized it as a road constructed by God. More on that later.

March 12th, 2008

I wrote this to Brenda but I can’t remember if I actually sent it to her or not. If I didn’t: Brenda, you need to know that the spirit behind this (even though it sounds quite melancholy) is really more peaceful resignation, like finally surrendering to sleep in the early hours of the morning after a long night with a sick child. It’s a welcome thing.

Today, (November of 2010) it reminds me of the thoughts I have about Jesus, who resisted only one thing: evil, and in everything else accepted (peaceful resignation) what the Father gave him. (John 5:19)

I translated the idea of the “monkey trap” http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/monkey_trap

into song lyrics that I hope someday to set to music.

Let me cut the suspense, start at the end and then start over with the details:

I’m not leaving. I’m not quitting. But I am going to “give up”. I surrender.

After more than a year and half, I’m exhausted, and I know you are too, so one of us has to quit or we’re going to ruin our children and the potential that comes if God works a miracle.

It’s been a long battle of attrition, fighting to get the intimacy that I want, that I believe we are supposed to experience, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s never going to happen. I’ve felt this way for some time, but in the last few weeks as I feel myself being pulled into a season of battle again. I realize nothing has changed on the most fundamental levels. There are still secrets, there is still little trust, and next to no understanding of one another’s needs.

As I laid in bed this morning, yet again, finding no honest way to span the gap between us that won’t require me to die to who I truly am…I considered writing down the history of how we’ve arrived here in this place. I sit here now, going back and forth on whether I should travel that road yet again, and I’m unsure.

After Mondays argument, (when I brought my best work to the issue…doing/being everything I know I should do/be) and still no movement, no progress, no change, I sat on the bed for 10 minutes hitting my own head and repeating the phrase: “It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen.”

It’s like we’re both caught in a monkey trap…your fist clenched around some “prize” inside a jar. As long as you hold on to it, you can’t pull it (or your hand) free of the jar. The jar is chained to an anchor, so you can’t leave. You just sit and wait for the hunter to come and get you. But the truth is that if you just let go of the prize inside (that you can never have anyway)….you can walk away with your freedom.

For me…I’m clinging to the prize of truly winning you someday; of someday really having your trust and openness; of having you shower me with the reward of yourself; of saying to me…”I’m scared, but you’ve won me over. You’ve proved yourself…you have acquired enough “credit” to win my trust and I open myself to you…”

I LOOOOOOONGGGG to experience something like that.

I know…you would say that this has already happened.

I don’t know how to respond to that anymore. All I CAN say is: I don’t believe that’s true.

There’s more.

But the point of this particular letter is: Somehow…my desire for intimacy with you has turned into a very selfish need on my part. It’s become corrupted. It started in a beautiful, wholesome place 2 years ago. But it’s become a battle now. Now it’s just a fight I don’t want to lose. It’s at least to SOME extent about me getting what I want as it is about wanting you’re freedom.

I’m so sorry for that.

And so…right, wrong or indifferent, I’m letting go of the prize. I know I’ve already bruised it with my efforts to yank it free…and I don’t want to crush it all-together…that would just be wrong. Finesse hasn’t worked any better than brute force, and simply waiting for …well, SOMETHING to change is resulting in resentment.

So I’m letting go. I’m dropping it, I’m pulling my hand free of the trap, and I’m letting the prize drop.

The truth is: it feels like love is dead. To drop it, leaves me feeling nothing.

But which is better:

  • To leave the prize intact, un-touched, feeling nothing, but allowing for a miracle?


  • To continue yanking, manipulating, grasping and strategizing, thereby eventually crushing it altogether?

What would Sam do?