My husband, Greg, has a new site for his blog – he changed the name to Peaceful Husband. 🙂 You are welcome to check out his new look and his posts. He writes for men, many times – but, he has more women readers than men, so sometimes he also writes for women from a man’s perspective. Lately, he started a powerful series on shame for men that I believe every Christian woman needs to read.
Shame is often a very serious issue for men, even Christian men. I would put it on par with the issue of insecurity for women.
Shame can deepen and become entrenched in a man’s heart to the point that it becomes extremely toxic – total imprisonment. When a man is feeling shame, he will generally retreat into himself to protect himself from exposure. Sin is always progressive – it all snowballs and gets bigger and more destructive.
Greg said that when a man becomes increasingly trapped in shame, other men generally do not reach out to them – because that would be “unmanly” to imply to another man that you think he needs help. Men tend to wait for other men to ask for help – but for a man to ask for help is seen as “weakness.” So – many men feel completely trapped by shame over their sins, shame over not being “man enough” at with women, at work, at church, as a Christian, or shame over their failures (real or perceived).
A number of our men feel shame simply for being men in our culture today. They are told they should feel, think, and act like women. And when they don’t – they hear a clear message that they are “wrong” or “evil.” What an incredibly awful place to be! To think that just by existing and being masculine as God designed them to be – they are seen as being “wrong.” (I am not talking about sin here, but just masculinity in general.)
This absolutely breaks my heart!!!!! I don’t want ANYONE to be isolated and trapped like this, feeling that they are completely alone in the world and unable to break out of that snare.
Interestingly, the cure for a man’s shame, in Greg’s research – is vulnerability.
THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT FOR WOMEN IN THIS POST:
If a man can become vulnerable and open with someone he trusts who is safe – he can begin to heal from his shame and find hope. The place a man is most likely to look for help and healing is his girlfriend/wife. But the clincher is – a man will NEVER be vulnerable with someone who disrespects him. Why would he share the deepest parts of his heart with someone who seems bent on doing him harm? Greg told me,
“a man would rather be unknown than to be known for his weaknesses.”
We women long for men to be vulnerable and open with us. We long for them to share their hearts. But – if we are disrespecting them (even unintentionally) – we are communicating a clear message that we are not safe and that they cannot open up to us. Unfortunately, our disrespect can block one of the best paths to healing a man might be able to find. If a man believes that his girlfriend/wife is not safe and no man will help him – but there is another woman at work or somewhere who admires him and accepts him – what a recipe for disaster.
Most men do not have close guy friends. I wish that were not the case. I think there is a great need for godly men to have godly mentors who are men. But the reality is, we may be the only ones who could offer them a ladder to get out of the deep hole in which they find themselves. Will we throw a rope to them to help them, or will we shovel in more dirt over them and bury them alive? When a man feels completely trapped in shame over a long period of time, he may eventually “snap” and lash out in really destructive and sinful ways toward himself, his girlfriend/wife, and others.
Ultimately – men need the same thing women need – a relationship with God and the healing that only Jesus can offer!
Ways We Can Make Things Worse and push a man deeper into the mire, deeper into hopelessness/despair, and further away from Christ:
- be negative about him and to him
- complain about him
- argue with him
- punish him
- shame/scold/condemn/disrespect him
- mother him
- tell him he is not good enough, not “man enough,” that he needs to, “man up”
- have a critical, judgmental spirit against him
- be bitter
- refuse to forgive
- think or say, “He doesn’t deserve my respect!”
- be needy and clingy
- make a man into an idol – expect them to meet the big God-sized needs that only Christ can meet in our souls
- demand he abide by our own personal convictions
- manipulate him
- hate him, hold him in contempt
- be cold
- tell other people his faults and weaknesses
- humiliate and embarrass him in public
- try to control him
- be afraid and freak out a lot
BOTTOM LINE: if we are sinning against our men or against God – we may inadvertently compound their pain and shame.
Ways We Can Be Part of God’s Plan to Bring Healing, Hope, and Help to an emotionally/spiritually wounded man:
- abide in Christ and be filled with His Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)
- know our identity in Christ
- extend grace
- extend forgiveness
- share the good things we see – the things we truly admire and respect (usually briefly – i.e.: a sentence or two per day or per week)
- if he is open to us talking about spiritual things, we can share the hope that is in Christ – that He takes away all of our guilt and shame – and that in Him, there is abundant spiritual life available. There is a fountain of Living Water. They can have God’s Spirit and the fruit of His Spirit. They can have wholeness, healing, purpose, godly power, and God can transform them to be more like Christ and make them mighty warriors in His kingdom for His glory!
- be vulnerable ourselves (as appropriate) – sharing our feelings, desires, and needs – softly, respectfully, humbly, gently
- be honest but in a respectful way, considering our man’s needs and feelings
- refuse to build walls ourselves
- be able to hear hard things – even when we don’t agree
- not demand perfection, but accept our men are human – just like we are
- be willing to be flexible and try to understand our men’s very different perspectives
- receive any wisdom our men may have to share
- appreciate anything our men do for us to show their love – even if it is nor our favorite way of receiving love
- keep our men’s faults, failures, and weaknesses to ourselves and be trustworthy and loyal by keeping confidences (unless there are really serious issues going on, then we must reach out for help, but only to appropriate, trustworthy counselors and sources)
- choose our closest friends/advisors wisely
- tear out every root of bitterness
- accept them (not to say we accept sin, but we can accept our men and not try to change them, trusting God to sanctify them)
- affirm them and build them up (in sincerity, not in a fake or manipulative way)
- give them the space they need to process and grow
- understand that it takes time for a man to learn to become a strong leader
- trust God’s sovereignty
- smile that beautiful smile that lights up the whole room – and makes him feel like a million bucks
BOTTOM LINE: if we are seeking to allow God to transform and regenerate our souls and we are living in the power of God’s Spirit and walking in holiness and obedience to Him – we can be an instrument in God’s hands to bring healing and hope to our men.
NOTE – if a man is very wounded emotionally/spiritually, he may need a godly man to help him. Reach out for appropriate help for him if he is suicidal, threatening to hurt someone else, if there are serious mental health issues, or if the situation needs more assistance than you can provide. If you are in danger, please get somewhere safe ASAP and get help.
Please don’t date a man who doesn’t know Christ. And if a man does know Christ, but is severely wounded – it may be wise to allow him some time to heal before attempting to move forward with a courtship/dating relationship. This is something about which to pray and seek God’s wisdom in each situation. God may use you to throw him a life preserver. But be very sensitive to God’s voice. Don’t allow yourself to become an idol for him. Seek to point him to Christ.
Gentlemen, we welcome your insights on this issue – and how you believe wives might be able to reach and bless their husbands who may be caught up in a terrible abyss of shame.
Ladies, what are your thoughts? How can we pray for our men and our brothers in Christ? The enemy wants to take them down and destroy them – because if he can destroy our leaders, everything else will crumble. He is attacking them with everything he has today. Sisters, let’s close ranks to surround our brothers in Christ with fervent prayer!
We lift up our our brothers in Christ who are trapped in shame and who can’t see the way out. Open their eyes to You! Open their eyes to what Jesus has done for them. Let them turn to Him and be healed and bring them up out of the pit! Let them fully submit themselves to Christ as Lord and become the godly men, the holy generation, that You call them to be for Your glory!