Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Man You Want To Be ( Day 11)

"How are you doing at being the man you want to be? This is the question asked in the video for today's challenge.
I am happy to say that, overall, I am pleased with my growth out of permanent boyhood into being a man/father/leader/brother.
I told my therapist, a while back, that I would be comfortable telling a young man to look at the way I now live compared to how I lived in the past as an example of how to grow and live as a man. I thank God for this progress and give Him all the glory because, He knows, that I have been dragged, many times kicking and screaming, into being a man.
I am happy with my progress but not satisfied. I am not where I want to be but am not dissatisfied with where i am if that makes sense. Change is slow and painful. I sometimes wish God would rush me through this process but I recognize that I am overwhelmed with the pace we are walking at now sometimes.
I know that I need a community of brothers. I need other men on the same path as me. I have access to these men but do not spend time with them as I should. I fall into  doing what is comfortable rather than what is be.
I am more of the man I want to be now than I have ever been in the past. I am confident that with the help of this challenge I will continue to grow into the man I am inside.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Be the Friend ( Day 10)

Today's challenge calls me to be the friend I want to have in someone else's life. This is difficult for me as the few friendships I've had have not exactly been healthy.
My "best friend" was a friend I had for 15-20 years of my life.We had a friendship that was too exclusive. We both had been rejected by many of our male piers so we basically decided we only needed each other. We didn't need other people. And, though we each did have other friends, we relied heavily upon each other. At the same time we spoke unkindly about one another behind each others backs and, sometimes, to each others faces. I had a lot more control in the friendship than he did and I exerted that control in unhealthy ways. As we finished high school drugs and alcohol became part of both of our lives. The impact those things had, eventually, drove us apart. At one point in our friendship we were inseparable and at the end we could not be in the same room together. Unfortunately we never reconciled and he passed away a few years ago.
This unhealthy friendship is how I now gauge whether other men are "real friends". Do they focus on me. Am I their only friend? Is it all about me all the time? These unhealthy expectations have kept me isolated and, despite my recognition of the fact that these are not healthy or realistic expectations, I have yet to be able to completely shake them.
This challenge reminds me that the way to shake them is to live the opposite of them. Accept that I am one of many friends not the "best friend". That I am a brother in my community of friends not THE brother. For me to find real friends I have to be a real friend.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Brotherhood ( Day 9)

I do not see myself as a part of a community of people as I see myself as an island. Someone fighting alone. Try to make my own way.
As a kid I perceived that I had to do everything for myself. I felt like I couldn't depend on my mom and dad for emotional support. My brother and I were not close.I was also, and still am, sensitive to rejection, or perceived rejection. So the combo of feeling like I couldn't rely on the men closest to me and feeling rejected by those I wanted to be friends with led me to an isolated existence. To deal with the pain of being isolated I told myself i didn't need people. The more  isolated I became the more intolerant I became of others imperfections, using those imperfections as an excuse to further isolate myself. Over time this became intolerable and our Lord opened my eyes, sloooowly...painfully, to the truth that I need people. I need other men.
The way I dealt with not having many male friends in the past was through gay porn. I lived a life of fantasy hook ups. No attachment. No possibility of getting hurt. Just use men sexually and move on. This, as you can imagine, led to a deep emptiness. An emptiness that I am only, in the last few years, starting to fill with real friendships.
In today's challenge, men needing other men is spoken of. I want this in my life. I want good male friends. Men that will hold me accountable. That will call me to a higher standard than I hold myself. That will show me real brotherly love. Not the forgery of relationship with men that I have tolerated in my life since my early teens through porn and phone sex.
The video with today's challenge has the story of a man who struggles like all of us do. He speaks of a desire for love to be tangible. I think this also part of what I seek. I did not "feel" love as a kid so I sought out a feeling in porn that my mind now associates with "relationship" or "love". This feeling is tangible so, though it isn't what I want, I take it over feeling nothing.
I know that there is no love in porn or phone sex and I know that what I seek is found in the friendships that I stubbornly resist. Resist out of fear of being hurt. Of being rejected. I want friends I can rely on. Trust that they will be there for me. The fear of not getting this from them keeps me from a deeper friendship with them that would, likely, give me what I am looking for, in an imperfect way.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Little Boy ( Day 8)

"We run around the world like little boys looking for approval..."_ Christ Stefanick

Challenge: What three words sum up my weakness?-Prove your masculinity
                 What four words define me as God's son?-Loved as I am.

My weakness is not feeling like I measure up. Not feeling like I am good enough. That I am not a real man. If I was more of a man I would be more accepted and loved. These are the lies that went unchallenged for me for most of my adult life. Sometimes at the forefront of my mind but mostly running in the background. I heard them from others and then repeated them to myself. The enemy joined in the campaign to keep me from being who I am.

The words that define me as a son of God are a new reality for me that I struggle to accept. I know, intellectually, that God knew me before time began. When He thought of creating humanity I was one He thought of. He saw my entire existence and He loved me. He delighted in me. The thought of me delighted Him and the reality of me delights Him. There is nothing I can do that He didn't know I was gonna do before I ever existed.

The words that define me are contrary to the words that sum up my weakness. My weakness will be defeated by the reality of  my sonship.

I am not a boy who is more like a girl. I am not a freak or an a**hole. I am a son of God. Brother of Jesus Christ. Temple of the Holy Spirit. Friend of the saints. Consecrated to our Mother Mary.
These relationships define me as a person not any of those words.
Not my weaknesses nor my strengths but these relationships.
God said it so it must be true. I am a beloved son, delighted in by my heavenly family.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Authenticity ( Day 7)

"To be a witness you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be authentic."- Chris Stefanick

I am not lacking in authenticity. I am an open book. People see all the bad in me and the good that comes from the Holy Spirit that dwells within me.
I am not a father to biological children which means I am called to be a spiritual father to those I encounter. This ranges from co-workers, to family members, to friends and acquaintances.
As I said in previous posts, I have lived the life of a teenager for many of my adult years. It is only since getting off drugs and alcohol, over 7 years ago, that I have started to behave more like a man. I struggle not to fall back into selfish behaviors. I struggle to do what is right rather than what is easy. I often fail. I fall but I do not stay down.
I recognize the importance of authenticity when living a Catholic life. I do get angry, I do cuss, interiorly often and exteriorly infrequently, I do try to get out of doing my work sometimes, I do not always keep my word, I am not always fair. I am an imperfect disciple striving for perfection. What I have been given the ability to do is acknowledge my shortcomings publicly and try to do better by the grace of God. This is how I lead.
I am a wounded warrior for Christ. I am a broken father. I am a man in the making. And I am loved infinitely by my earthly family and Heavenly Father and family.
Help me to be a better witness for You each day Lord.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Whine and Worry ( Day 6)

"When your inner voice becomes a whiner and worrier hang up the phone"-Chris Stefanick

For many years i was ruled bu anxiety. I would lay in bed at night processing the day. Going over each client in my head. Wondering if they were happy with my work. If I hadn't seen a client in a while wondering why they hadn't come back. When at work worrying a client would walk in for a haircut and I wouldn't be able to do what they wanted. I was making myself sick.
One day I was upstairs in the salon I currently work in worrying about getting a client that I would fail in satisfying and I thought to myself. "do I trust God?". Do I trust Him or not? Because if I do trust Him than I have nothing to be worried about. He will not give me anything I can't handle and if He does give me something I can't handle then He will help me with it. From that day forward I have had no problem falling asleep at night and have been far less stressed at work in regards to clients.
Two years ago I was asked to be a manager at my salon. I had no experience in managing people but accepted. About a year ago I was told that my dad has a serious illness. These two things i can not handle. The fear of not being a good manager and the fear of losing my dad and watching him, and my family, suffer have been overwhelming. I know intellectually that Jesus has allowed these things into my life to help me trust Him more, recognize my weakness, and draw closer to Him. Despite this knowledge I still struggle.
I want to hang up the phone on my inner voice, and the voice of the enemy, but I find this new level of trust and surrender very difficult.
Part of the challenge for the day is to say "I renounce my fear of  X. Jesus I trust in you." I did not know what to put in this blank but as I said the words in my head I replaced the X with "losing my father". As I type these words now I cry.
I renounce the fear of losing my father. Jesus I trust in you.
Help me to, once again, hang up on worry and whining Lord Jesus. I trust in you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

God Centered ( Day 5)

“One solitary God-centered, God-intoxicated man can do more to keep God's love alive and His presence felt in the world than a thousand half-hearted, talkative busy men living frightened, fragmented ‘lives of quiet desperation’." 
-Fr. William McNamara

I want to live a "God centered" life. That's something I've felt drawn to since getting off drugs a little more than 7 years ago. The difficulty is understanding what "God centered" means to God. 
To me "God centered" means being involved in ministry in some way and by ministry I mean my definition of ministry which is priesthood, consecrated religious life. or working directly, full time, with an apostolate of the Catholic Church. This is what I want "God centered" to mean. So far, this has not turned out to be the case.
I am the manager of a hair salon in Washington DC. I am a member of the Courage apostolate. I make videos about my faith and the struggles associated with it for my YouTube channel. I have my own website. Some of my friends call this my ministry but I don't see it that way. I see it as a hobby. Something I do on the side. It is not the center of my life as I want it to be. My idea of "God centered" is skewed.
Being "God centered" is not about what I do for Him. It's not my job or my hobbies. It is not ministry. It is my relationship with Him. A relationship that I often turn into a job because I am more comfortable with doing than being. More comfortable with earning than receiving. 
The idea of "God centered" can lead us far away from an actual God centered life if we are not careful. I am easily led off the right path. Lord help me.
Guardian angel, sent by God to guide me, be my light and walk besides me, be my guardian and protect me, on the paths of life direct me. Amen