To my brothers who have changed my life,
Throughout my life, I’ve found many excuses not to get to know other guys. I projected upon them preconceived notions of what kind of men I thought they were—notions that were more about what was wrong with me than what was “wrong” with them. It was much easier (and safer) to not make the effort to get to know them. If I didn’t really know them, then I wouldn’t have to let them know the real me. In my mind, the real me was a man nobody would like. Hell…I didn’t even like myself!
I lived a life of isolation. I would interact with people on the surface, but never had the courage to delve any deeper than work, the weather, sports, politics, etc. When life became difficult, I would retreat into my own head. There were several reasons for doing this:
It is very easy to rationalize your thoughts and decisions if the only person giving you feedback is yourself.
In my warped perception of manhood, I was under the impression that “real” men did not share their fears or struggles—they sucked it up and handled it.
In my mind, I imagined that others would judge and ridicule me. Surely others did not have struggles like mine. The shame was bad enough in isolation, if others knew the real me my world would come crashing down.
Very slowly I started to recognize that God was putting other men along my path. More than likely he has done this throughout my life, but I was unwilling to see it. The more I got to know them, I began to realize that these guys weren’t perfect after all—they were just as broken as me. Eventually, I started to open up with a few and began sharing small (very small) bits of information about my struggles. The amazing thing was that some of them began to do the same. God began to show me through these other men that I was not alone. He showed me that there were other men who were struggling in very similar ways that I had hidden for so long.
As these relationships began to grow, I gained confidence to reach out to other guys. My circles were expanding from one or two male friends to more and more. Many of the guys were people who I had known for years, but because of my preconceived judgment and fears I never really made an effort to get to know them. The guy who I thought for years was a self-absorbed douche has turned out to be a genuine, selfless and funny guy who is now one of my closest friends.
God puts men in your life, then he uses them to do his work. Often he speaks to me through them and their lives. When I am having an exceptionally difficult time he gives them the words to calm me and guide me through the storm. When I am tempted to give in to the darkness of sin he will use them to give me a call or send a random text message, redirecting my thoughts and keeping me in the light. When I am living in my head and rationalizing my actions or idiotic behavior, he uses them to provide direct feedback and common sense guidance.
I thank God daily for putting these great men along my path. Now we journey together, side by side, supporting the other when he needs it, and allowing God to work through us in their lives.