Friday, January 21, 2011

Leave Me Alone?

John Donne once said, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”  We humans have an innate desire to have others around us.  As enticing as the hermit life style might seem to some, solitary confinement remains one of the cruelest punishments know to man.  So we seek friends, confidants, a support system around us to help get us through life’s trouble.  With our peeps at our side, we feel lifted up and comforted.

I recently read an excellent book written by a well known rabbi that had an interesting spin on this topic.  I have tried hard to disprove his theory,  and I don’t like it one bit.  The theory being that men aren’t supposed to desire or seek “support.”  We are men and we make it only with the Heavenly Father’s help alone.  Yet, Scripture seems to back this up.  Where was Noah’s best friend or neighbor?  The only people on the ark was family.  Where was Abraham’s best friend or support team?  Jacob’s? 

You do seem some instances where characters had friends i.e. David and Jonathan, Joshua and Caleb, Daniel and the three Hebrew men.  Even Yahshua the Messiah had talmidim (students or servants) that travelled with  Him and offered some support.  Was it not Adam who wanted a partner?

And YHWH Elohim said, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I am going to make a helper for him, as his counterpart.”
(Genesis 2:18 The Scriptures 1998+)

So YHWH put Adam asleep, took a part out of him and made a separate body for Adam to commune with.  This would seem to indicate that we men should look to our wives as our first line of support.  Here lies the problem with that idea:

1.  We men were raised to be tough and figure things out on our own without help.  We’re men, we’re men!!

2.  Women were raised that men don’t want their advice/help and they should stay out of their husbands lives and seek “girl” friends.

So how can we as husbands and wives rebuild this emotional bridge we have been conditioned to burn?  Should we as men confide and converse with our wives in this manner?  Would we be lowering ourselves from our manly status if we try to embrace this feminine trait, as the rabbi mentioned above has written?

Many men, and some women, have become very staunch and stubborn when it comes to sharing personal pain and weakness.  We try to put on a front and keep others from seeing our insides.  This way if the problems aren’t seen or shared we do not appear to be weak.

Let me turn this spotlight inward for a moment.  I have been known throughout my life as a clown or comedian.  Making jokes and acting the fool to get a laugh or a smile is a way of life for me.  Here lies the problem; oft times and definitely in my case, people who have this comedic personality are crying inside.  If we keep people laughing we know that no one will have the chance to get us crying.  The image of a disturbed clown who makes others laugh while crying in secret is more true than we care to admit.  What I am hiding is years of sorrow, grief and sometimes depression.  I understand that this may be making you squirm in your seat, that is not my intention at all.  Or maybe you feel sorry for me and want to give me some sympathy, I am not seeking that either.  In fact, when people sympathize after the hurt one has opened up it comes across as too little too late.  We should have noticed sooner, or had enough spiritual discernment to offer comfort without prompting.  But back to my point here.  I haven’t had a support group of friends in my life and I have suffered because of it.  I am not blaming those I called “friends” even though some might deserve blame because I don’t open up.  This blog isn’t easy and I am not enjoying writing this at all. 

I love my wife and we are very close.  We do talk and lately have become support for each other.  It is difficult for both of us as stated in points 1 and 2 above.  We are trying to change the way we look at each other and become more supportive.  If this makes me less of a man and the rabbi calls me feminine, I guess I’ll deal with that later.

The other area of support, from the brethren, is actually much more difficult.  A few months ago, I shared some personal and private struggles with a brother and confessed the need to develop some measure of accountability.  I got the “cave man” stare and to this date he hasn’t inquired about me and my issues or shared anything with me in return.  This is what makes the support system among the brothers so hard.

Do you think Abraham had a friend he sat on the back porch with and poured out his heart to?  Did Jacob have a unmentioned friend that he confided in?  Should we seek to have this type of relationship with Believing brethren?  

This I know.

Ka'as (sorrow) is better than laughter; for sadness of the countenance is good for the lev (heart).
(Ecclesiastes 7:3 OJB)

So maybe as men we should cry more and laugh less.  Maybe if we did, there would be less heart attacks.

Even in laughter the heart is in pain, And the end of that joy is heaviness.
(Proverbs 14:13 The Scriptures 1998+)

Draw near to Elohim and He shall draw near to you. Cleanse hands, sinners. And cleanse the hearts, you double-minded! Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Master, and He shall lift you up.
(James 4:8-10 The Scriptures 1998+)

So it behooves me (and maybe you) to not be so quick to laugh.  Learn to cry more and don’t be afraid to mourn.  While we’re at it, maybe we men should learn to bond with the gift your Father gave you and learn to talk to her.  I believe that it won’t hurt your manhood to acknowledge that you need YHWH and you need your wife.  To the wives, (since you’re reading this) you need to talk to your sisters a little less and to your husbands a little more.  Let him know you consider him trustworthy enough and important enough to share your problems with.  This venture will take time and effort on both parts, but we can do ALL things through Yahshua who strengthens us.

While I have your attention men; you need to develop some accountability.  First and foremost, reestablish the line of communication between you and YHWH.  Personal and private prayer is dying among the brethren.  We also need to learn to be trustable and trusting.  Most guys will never ask another guy, “how does that make you feel.”  But we as men shouldn’t be afraid to tell another brother if we are struggling or having issues.  This too takes a lot of time and effort, but I believe we can become stronger as we learn to lean.