Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mankind Project~Fact or Fiction



As some of you might know,  I am involved in the Mankind Project.  I occasionally hear things about the Mankind Project from others.  Most of the comments are great, but there are as in all things that occasional remark or comment that is negative in nature.  Most often they come from those who have no clue what they are talking about and indeed have never attended one of the weekends.

In the spring of 2016 I actually attended my first weekend experience.   They call the weekend experience "The New Warrior Training Adventure".  To tell the truth I was filled with fear and a lot of anxiety over the what would happen.  Especially with the word warrior.  That word alone worried me.  I am not that ruff macho competitive type man and I really worried about failing and making a fool of myself in front of everyone.   For good reasons they tend to be closed mouth about what actually goes on during the weekend so as an initiate I really had no clue what to expect, and in truth even if I were told everything it would not have prepared me for the experience I had.

The weekend starts on Friday night and goes to Sunday afternoon. It is 48 hours of amazing transformation.  Each and every moment is used to help one grow up and understand his role as a man in our society.   I have to say it was hard, the truth is hard things help us grow and come to understand who we really are.

I am a man of faith and have practiced my faith for years.  Some have the concern that MKP is a substitute for faith.  That it is or could be a replacement for my faith.  In all truth MKP serves to strengthen any man in what ever faith he practises.  MKP has helped me appreciate my faith in ways that I did not understand and in the process I have a greater faith and closer relationship with my God.  Each man is on a different path and MKP teaches men to be the best in their family, community, faith, career, and circle of friends and be the best in their path whatever it might be.

It is coming up on one year since I went on my first MKP experience.  It has been one of the best years of my life.  MKP has helped me face my greatest fears.  MKP has helped me to see my value more and helped me to see what I have to add and give to my community.

I have to say the greatest thing I have gained from my MKP experience is a greater sense of community with men.  I have learned that most men, no matter where they are in the journey seek and want deeper friendships with other men. Not just the pat on the back how's the weather, but deeper meaningful transparent friendships that actually push you to become a better man.  Friendships that hold you accountable for who you are and what you can become.  In the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the best men I have ever known.  I love that these men are not afraid to tell help me to be better and it is not done in a judgmental way or in any way to make me feel shame.   My friendship with these men has deepened my life experience in so many ways, from learning how to be a better friend to accepting who I am and for the first time understanding my role as a man in the community, my family, and faith.

I personally think that the Mankind Project has something to offer everyman.  I heard once that the mission of MKP is to help men grow up.  I agree.  It has a way of helping men see who they really are and tapping into that potential.   It helps marriages, family relationships, work, play, and most important it does help men grow up.

Most men I have learned are struggling with something in their lives.  It can range from addictions to relationships,  from shame to pride.  A lot of men struggle with developing and keeping friendships that are meaningful.  No matter where we are on the path, men need help from other men to move forward and progress.  Some have their faiths, good marriages, strong families, and other support in their lives.  But no matter where you are on the journey, MKP can add to and enhance your experience like nothing else.

As I have said,  I am a man of faith.  I love my faith and am devoted to it.  My experience this past year has deepened my faith and has added to what I have already enjoyed.  In fact I have learned to appreciate and enjoy what I had already in a deeper sense.  I feel that my experience with MKP has been one of the greatest blessings I have had.

I encourage all men to take a look at MKP.  If you are looking for a place to belong and grow  and become better, MKP is just the place for you.  My life is richer and I am enjoying sharing the journey with brothers from all faiths, races, and places in life.   My heart and soul has been opened to what my responsible as a man is and just how sweet the journey can be when we surround ourselves with like minded men.

I hope to see you sometime on a weekend.

Brad

PS.  If you want to learn more about Mankind Project go to www.mkp.org or you can contact me at www.chefbrad.com

PSS.  They have New Warrior Training Adventures all over the country.  The next one I am staffing at is in Prescott Arizona in May 2017   I invite to you take a look and perhaps join me on the weekend.  We are accepting applications now.  Hurry,  only 32 men are allowed to attend this one. You can see the schedule of events at www.mkp.org    See you there.









Monday, February 13, 2017

Am I Doing All I Can~Finding Peace






Recently as I have been studying the promise of having the Peace that the Savior gives.  This thought has come up time and time again lately, from listening to others to pondering my life I have given a lot of thought to Peace.    I have to say that often I struggle with having Peace in my life.  I struggle with not feeling that peace as much as I would like and often I am left wondering if I am doing all I can to obtain that peace that comes from being a follower of Christ.  Life has many challenges and as I face them I look for peace and perhaps I don't understand it well, but for me often times it seems fleeting.   There are those moments when I feel peace,  but underlying the peace I feel is most often followed by a feeling of frustration and anxiety over life and what is ahead.

I have friends of many faiths and I think it is a universal struggle with most of us to do all we can to have that peace, but for some reason it is not always there and is seems hard to find.  How do I know if I am doing all I can, especially when I feel I am, and my life is still devoid of peace?  Does peace only come when I have perfected my obedience and faith?

For me it seems that in our perfection driven society often times I am  lead to believe that until I reach perfection peace will not come.  So I beat myself up and pretend I am good, putting on my smiley face and going about pretending the world is great when in reality it's seems to be crumbling at my feet.

For me  each day begins when I wake up with feelings of defeat.  I have struggled with this my entire life and have come to understand that it will most likely will be part of my life until the end.  I understand part of this comes from still struggling with childhood abuse and the other part comes from living in a society and church culture that demands perfection and expects it.  That leaves me feeling inadequate and venerable to the challenges ahead.  With family, work, church, and all in-between I struggle to find peace and direction in what lies ahead.

One of my Favorite sayings is "Trust in the Lord in all Things".  I love that saying but have discovered it's so easy to say and actually one of the hardest things in life to do.  Trust that even though my life is not where I want it to be it's ok?  Trust that I am serving where I am supposed to be?  Trust that after all that I have done my children will be ok?  Trust that choices I make daily to do the right is the right thing to do?   Trust that I am where I should be in my career?  Trust that if I keep working on it my marriage will just get better?  Trust that I will have employment tomorrow? Trust that daily choices are the right ones?

In every single part of my life I have to trust and the biggest one is "Trust that I am Doing All I Can". Meaning to me am I doing my part so I can trust in the Lord In all Things.  Am I worthy to trust in him,  am I worthy enough to receive his guidance and direction in my life?   Am I worthy enough to find the PEACE that comes from trusting in Him?

In a recent book I was have been reading I read a line that struck me to the core.  Elder Bednar, an apostle in the LDS faith asked a question of someone he was interviewing who was looking to be healed from a sickness.  He asked "do you have the faith not to be healed"?  Wow it hit me.  The question that come to my mind was "Do I have the faith to be happy where I am right now"?  Knowing I am doing all I can.   I am far from perfect, but I am anxiously engaged in trying to be better.  I realized that is all that is required.  Hope turns to faith and faith brings peace.  

I have found greater peace as I realize perfection is not required to received peace.  We hope for it, move forward with faith believing and in measure peace comes into our hearts.  Yes it's fleeting at times, but it does come and as we cling to the fleeting moments of clarity and peace we can move forward and overcome lives obstacles.

Am I where I want to be right now in any area of my life?  Not exactly, but after much thought I have decided for some reason I am where I am supposed to be.  I don't get it often, but one thing for certain is that there is a God and he does have a perfect plan for each of us and as we trust,  sometimes thats just putting one foot in front of the next, and move forward peace does come and understanding will feel our hearts.  And we will come to know through our trials and struggles that there is a Savior that has carried us and will carry us.

Am I Doing All I Can?  Probably not, but I am doing the best I can and each day I will try to be better.  Hoping, moving forward with faith that peace will come.  Life is a journey, a hard one, but we have each other to lift and help.  We are not alone in the process of becoming better and even when peace is fleeting we have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Have a great day filled with Peace and Joy
Brad


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Fear of Asking




We have all been there, wanting something but afraid of asking for fear of rejection or shame.  The shame comes from what we are asking for.  In our minds we feel stupid to have to ask, yet unless we ask the need or want goes without being met.  What we are asking for can be as simple as being heard,  being seen, talking, physical contact, validation, or a number of things we might need in our own personal lives.

The funny things is that those things we are needing and wanting are the same needs and wants of those around us.  I have learned, much to my surprise, that most of us are pretty much alike and desire the same things.  Often times we feel isolated from others feeling that we are weird and strange for the things we want.  And most often others are struggling with the same needs and wants and the same fear of asking.

I hear men often complain about not having that close connection with other men or people in general.  I hear often of men that just ache to be hugged and held once in awhile,  yet go through life aching and feeling miserable that the need is not being met.  Not only men, but women struggle from the same thing.  Lack of connection in life brought on by a multiplicity of fears.

Since this blog is about men,  I will direct my thoughts to men and the needs that men have, although is also applies to women.  Women do tend to have an easier time asking but not always.  I have discovered much to my amazement that pretty much all men want to connect in a deeper way with other men.  Men that struggle with SSA or SGA often think they are alone in the need to connect with other men.  The reason I bring this up is that most men want and crave a deeper connection with other men, beyond the casual pat on the back or how is the weather.   Perhaps not in exactly the same way, but I have a feeling that if truth were to be know that if one man approached another man that is a good friend and expressed the need it would be met.  There might be some discomfort to start, but I have found that it can happen and will if we take the step to ask.

Asking can be hard.  I will be transparent here for a moment.  I love hugs.  Even more than hugs I enjoy being held once in a while by a man.  Many say that it means someone is GAY, but I disagree.  I was raised in a home where there was absolutely no man to man contact.  I ached to be hugged by my dad.  I have a deep need to feel that connection with men.  I have many friends and have shared that with them and to my surprise I can get a good hug from most of them.

I hurts my heart so hear of men that have a need to connect in any way and it cannot be met.  It also brightens my day when I hear stories of  men that step outside of their comfort zone to feel the need of a friend in need or of a man that stepped outside his comfort zone and asked for what he needs.  I have heard stories of men that have asked and because of asking have had wonderful experiences in being blessed by other men.   A couple of my friends that really struggle with the need to be hugged actually have Bishops that will take the time to hug them and on occasion hold them.  Now that is the standard worth looking at.

We have to get over the homophobic and sexualized fear of touch, hugging, and holding.  Just because you might not understand the need of someone else, be careful how to judge and look at that person.  Just because a man wants to be held does not mean it is geared around sexual desires or thoughts.

As is have stated before,  I grew up in a home where it was devoid of touch.  I never really had  friends in school and the touch I did get was from being beat up or abused.  I craved the need to be hugged, held, and touched by others.   I am a touchy feely person and it was really hard not to be able to express myself in that way.    Now as a grown man I enjoy hugging and yes I will admit that I have held hands with friends.  Don't be shocked,  there was nothing sexual or inappropriate in the action, just a comfort level of being with someone I enjoy being with and a deeper sense of connection.

I also enjoy hugging men and being held.  It can be very healing and comforting to feel the strength of a good friend with his arms around me.

It did not just happen for me to get to the level where I am now.  It came from me learning how to ask and get over the fear of rejection.  Yes there have been uncomfortable experiences.  One in particular was a home teacher we had years ago.  He was visiting us and mentioned how men just don't hug men.  My wife was worried at that point.  She said she was thinking, "does he realize who he is talking to".    He got up to leave and I stood up and walked up to him and threw my arms around him and hugged him.  He immediately froze and stiffened and literally clinched his fist.  I really thought I had gone to far that time.  It took a moment, actually a few until he softened and said "I guess it's ok coming from you."  I am happy to report that to this day he not only hugs me, his hugs are embraces.   Sometime we just need to act and teach.   I think he was my home teacher to learn that from me.  I certainly learned a lot from him over the years and love him like a brother.

Asking is hard, but take in consideration that what you are asking for the other person wants or even needs, even if they don't know it.   We are all on the same journey in life.  Trying to fit in and be happy.  I have learned that the things I struggle with most often are the same exact things the person next to me is struggling with.  As we learn to be open and transparent  with others we not only get our needs fulfilled, but in the process we fill the needs of those around us.

My hope is that we can be more open to the needs of those around us and  be more open to asking what someone needs and not being afraid of filling the need, even when it is outside of our comfort zone.  It works both ways.   Those needing need to ask and those being asked need be sensitive to the needs of those asking.   And often times we really don't need to wait to be asked.  Ask first is there is anything as a friend we can do.   We can work on creating open transparent understanding relationships between each other and as we do this the fear of asking can dissolve into understanding and joy.


This blog has been a blessing and a trial.  It's hard to be transparent in our culture.  We get judged harshly and without understanding.  From my experiences I have learned to be more understanding and less judgmental.  My heart goes out to so many who struggle and it's my constant prayer that perhaps what I write will bless just one person.  
Feel free to comment below.  Sign up on the side bar and you will get automatic notices when I post a new blog.  Thank you for reading, understanding, and sharing.   And please feel free to share with others.  You never know who just might need encouragement.   Brad 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Need for Physical Touch






Hello,  Just a thought.  There seems to be so much misunderstanding about intimate relationships between men these days.  I get so frustrated hearing all the stories that physical  is all about sex.  When did hugging a man or wanting to be closer to a man become all about sex.  I love reading about friendships in the early days of our country.  Although there are those that would state that these stories are perfect examples of gay relationships.  I disagree completely.  These are stories about men just plain enjoying their friendships beyond today's complicated rules.  I really enjoy reading their letters to each other.  Flowery and sweet,  I love that and wish we could be more open in today's world.  Those men really knew how to express and show how they really felt about each other.  I also love the photos of friends in the past.  Intimate and loving.  I have to believe that they were not sexual with each other,  they just enjoyed being together, and expressing those feelings more openly.  We could take lessons from them and in the process learn and practice what they did.

In our society there is a great need for men to open up and be transparent with each other. We are not allowed that and if we do cross the lines of being transparent and open we are labeled.  I have dealt with those labels all my life and even more so in the last few years as I have opened up and shared very private parts of my life with others.  I am unique in that I feel I have a great understanding about men and close relationships with men.  All my life, or since I was young man I have had really amazing experiences dealing with men.  I have enjoyed wonderful close friendships with men and understand that men can have healthy close relationships with other men and not compromise covenants or promises made with others.   Meaning that my friendships have nothing to do with sex, but everything to do with being open and honest.  


The problem is that in today's world everything is so sexualized.  From simple hugs to just holding it always leads to sex in our societies mind.   When men are not allowed to freely express how they feel between each other they tend to act out in other ways. Research has found that when men are allowed and find ways to express themselves freely between other men,  they are happier and tend to make better choices in life.  


One of the main reasons that we all get confused  is that we all have physical bodies and they tend to react to affection in uncomfortable ways, even when the intentions are good and clean. I feel that there needs to be more frank  and open discussion and teaching on the subject of our bodies and how they work and how to deal with how that can affect our relationships with other men.  Men are confused thinking that if they get an erection there must be something wrong with them and shame comes in and Satan distorts the whole picture.   When that happens men tend to be uncomfortable creating close relationships for  fear of what might happen.  That fear closes doors and might lead to long term wonderful friendships.  


Many men  are aching for physical relationships with other men.  Not a sexual relationship, but a healthy physical friendship.   Holding and hugging in a healthy way.  We have been so trained to think that it is wrong and so we avoid it  and live in turmoil for a core need that is not being met.  It is a core need for many and it needs  to be discussed openly in a positive way that heals and builds.

I am confident that it can be done in healthy way that heals and helps men stay the course. Meaning that men can have good relationships with other men and they don't have to be sexual in any way.  Even if  and when the body reacts, that does not mean it is sexual and should definitely not keep us from reaching out and forming close relationships with others.

I have found  in my working with men that most men want and need physical touch and when is met in a good healthy safe way men tend not do not act out in bad ways, like pron, masturbation, and other ways.   When core needs are not met human nature is to try to find a way to fill the need.

What can we do to teach men a better way?  I think we need to be more understanding and not jump to conclusions that if a man is wanting a close relationship with another man it does not mean he wants a sexual relationship with a man.  I personally enjoy my friendships with other men and I never think of sex or anything inappropriate with a man. In fact it is just the opposite.  I enjoy a deeper friendship and closeness when I have those relationships in a healthy way.

Indeed the great test we have in this mortal life is to keep physical within the boundaries the God has set.  I believe that we can  establish this kind of relationship with another man and keep in within the boundaries the God has set and when we do we can and will experience JOY beyond our comprehension.

Remember David’s statement about his love for Jonathan.  He states his love was sweeter for him then the love of a woman.  I love that the word sweeter is used.  Not more passionate or physical but sweeter.  Those terms are physical while the term sweeter to me refers to spiritual.  So as we learn to grasp the spiritual and ignore the physical in our friendships with other men, a sweetness comes into our relationship and we really can experience Christlike love for another man.  That love can exceed our expectations in a deeper sense then we can understand until it happens.  And when it happens it truly can be a great thing.  

On statement Jonathan made that totally expresses how I like to have friendships is he told David several times "The Lord is between me and thee".  That is really the foundation of a great friendship.  With the Lord in the middle men can establish great loving friendships that bless and build each other in good ways.   I think David was a great king because of his friendship with Jonathan.  True friendships build and lift.  

Sorry to go on and on about this topic.  Dealing with this has been a huge burden and blessing  in my life and as I have looked and prayed for guidance I have been richly blessed and I have learned many things that have brought me greater joy and peace.  Along with that joy and peace comes to my mind a constant reminder that I am being taught to teach others.    

I hope you have a joyous day as you learn to be more physical in your friendships.  Allowing more open interaction with those around you.  Thank you for all you do and for providing a safe and hopefully sacred place for those around you to learn and develop pure Christlike personal intimate relationships.   It can bring them and you greater joy and peace.   

I wish you great success as you learn to more open and trusting.  Brad




This blog has been a blessing and a trial.  It's hard to be transparent in our culture.  We get judged harshly and without understanding.  From my experiences I have learned to be more understanding and less judgmental.  My heart goes out to so many who struggle and it's my constant prayer that perhaps what I write will bless just one person.  
Feel free to comment below.  Sign up on the side bar and you will get automatic notices when I post a new blog.  Thank you for reading, understanding, and sharing.   And please feel free to share with others.  You never know who just might need encouragement.   Brad 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Giver's vs. Taker's The Story of Joseph



I love the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.  He has always been a favorite of mine.  I love his compassion and integrity.  He gave all he had, and suffered much in his life.  His example has so many lessons for me personally.  He had to trust and depend on others most of his life, and in the process he meet with many givers and takers.  He was hurt often, but still trusted and moved forward. His is a great story and we can learn much from his example. 

It's hard to trust people today.  I find that when I put it all out on the line, trying to establish friendships, that I often get my heart ripped apart.  I have learned a few things about friendships, especially when I am developing personal intimate relationships with others.  By that I mean friendships that are open and transparent. 

In the world today I have found that there are basically two types of friends--givers and takers, just like in the time of Joseph.  Let me explain about givers and takers.

Takers are those that are in the relationship or friendship for one main reason, or at least if often seems that way.  The reason is to get something they need and want at the expense of the other person's feelings and heart.  Actually in all fairness we all develop relationships to get something.  The main motivation in building the friendship for a taker is to get what he wants, with no consideration for the other person.  There is something we all seek in relationships, but a taker is only looking for what he will get out of it and not what the taker can add to the relationship.  Most often when he cannot get what he wants he moves on to the next person, constantly looking to have his cup filled but not willing to fill others' cups.  We all have met takers in our lives, and to be truthful most of us have been hurt by the actions of a taker. 

Givers, on the other hand, go into a relationship needing something, understanding the need they have, but also tuning into the other person's needs, making sure those needs are met in a good way.  Givers are tenderhearted and most often trusting.  Givers are those who edify those around them and find great joy in doing so.  They put it all on the line and give all they have to the friendship.  Givers most often are looking for long-term friendships, the types of friendships that last through thick and thin and just seem to get stronger and stronger as time goes on.  Givers for forgivers.  They easily overlook the faults of others and tend to see the positive in most things, especially in those with whom they choose to be friends.  They are optimistic about life and want to share that happiness with others.  Because a giver gives more, he expects more, often setting himself up for failure.  Givers uplift, empower, and validate others. 

I have learned that we are all at different levels in our progression, and that at different points of our lives, our needs are different.  I have learned to see and accept what others' intents are.  I still stay open, but hold back if I sense they are takers.  Sometimes the taker needs to be taught.  Sometimes he just needs to grow up.  I have had experiences that started off badly and later turned out great, and I have also had just the opposite.

I think the worst thing we can do is to stop reaching out because of the fear of being hurt.  For all the times I am hurt, there are far more times I develop wonderful friendships that bless my life. 

One thing I have thought and shared before is the belief that the Human Heart has no limits on how many people we can love, or on how deeply we can love them.  Society puts limits and restrictions on that.  Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you have one good friend in this life you are lucky"?  I have heard that my entire life, and I don't like that thought.  I think it stops us from opening our hearts and letting others in, and in the process, we miss out on great opportunities for friendships. 

Why stop at one best friend?  The world is filled with likeminded people with whom you can connect and create life changing friendships.  When we stop at one friend we deny ourselves growth, and we deny others the chance to meet a really great person.  We never know just how much others can change our lives or just how much we can change the life of another person.

So how does this go with the story of Joseph?  Sometimes in life when we meet takers, (remember a taker would will take whatever he can, regardless of how it hurts you or lowers your standards). the best course of action is to run.  By this I mean that often there are those who desire to take so much that it could put our lives and happiness in jeopardy.  For Joseph it was Potiphar's wife.  She was a taker, looking only for what she could get our of the relationship, with no thought of the consequences of her actions.  I often hear of stories like that.  Joseph set the perfect example.  Run.  If we are in a situation where our integrity is being compromised, run.  Joseph ran and didn't look back.  Yes, his choice caused temporary discomfort, but in the end he was able to get just what he needed and so much more.  All of his life he was surrounded by takers and, yes, givers.  He learned great lessons from each one, and as we look at his life we can learn how to handle those situations in our own personal lives as we deal with takers and givers. 

When creating friendships, proceed with caution, but with an open heart and the ability to discern between givers and takers.  Don't be afraid to love and be loved.  The world is full of givers, don't let the experience of takers spoil your chances for happiness and joy.  Healthy friendships are truly the foundation for a life filled with goodness. 

Brad~A Happy Giver 



This blog has been a blessing and a trial.  It's hard to be transparent in our culture.  We get judged harshly and without understanding.  From my experiences I have learned to be more understanding and less judgmental.  My heart goes out to so many who struggle and it's my constant prayer that perhaps what I write will bless just one person.  
Feel free to comment below.  Sign up on the side bar and you will get automatic notices when I post a new blog.  Thank you for reading, understanding, and sharing.   And please feel free to share with others.  You never know who just might need encouragement.   Brad 


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Validation Ahead



Recently I realized something really powerful about myself.  I share this with a little fear, but also realizing that there are many that struggle from the same thing.

I realized that I have an empty void in my heart when it comes to being validated, especially by men. I have become really active this past year in the Mankind Project and after a recent weekend training as I was writing in my journal I realized the reason I love the Mankind Project is that it is filling the void in my heart that has been there for years.

I also realized that most of the men there are in it for the same reasons.  For whatever reason we don't get that validation in our homes, works arenas, and yes even in our church families, we go through life needing to be validated, but never really feeling that we have value and never being validated in a way that helps us move forward.

At least that's my story.  I grew up in a home were I never felt loved or needed by my father.  Often times when we don't get that at home we can find it in other places, like school.  School was not the place for me.  I remember teachers watching as students kicked me down the halls and I remember teachers laughing as students told them I was a faggot, I hate that word, and  needless to say I never felt validated in school for anything I ever did.   I never remember a teacher telling me or even really talking to me in a positive way.

Most of the young men my age shunned me and stayed away.  Those that were my kinda friends were in the same place I was, not strong enough on their own to help another.   I was beat up frequently and shamed constantly.

My father a good man,  grew up without a father  and in all fairness to him I was totally out of his comfort range.  He was a hard working cowboy and did not understand my softer, yes even more feminine ways.   He could not validate something he could not understand.   I did all I could to be validated by him.  Cleaned the house from top to bottom almost every day,  Worked hard and yes I even joined the football team.  That was a disaster.  We are very close now, but growing up I did not get what I needed from him in terms of being validated as a man.

I have found that in many cases when men are not validated in a positive way by men, they seek validation in other ways.  From drugs, sex, pornography, abuse, and for me it was wall building and self shame.

I learned at a very young age to build walls up around my heart to protect it.  My wall building like other ways men seek to fill the void has often times made life hard.  It has hurt my marriage, I have a great wife and love her with all my heart, but I have to sadly admit I have at times kept her out of my heart.  She is great and I admire her determination to make it work.  Wall buiding has   kept me from succeeding in things that I really want to do in life.   One of the biggest things that has happened to me is that my walls keep me enclosed in a world of self doubt.  The fear of failure is huge and I think it comes from the lack of healthy good solid validation in my life.

This past year has really been a growing experience for me as I have personally witnessed just how powerful validation can be.  When a man looks at another man and tells him of his value it changes both men.  The giver is lifted up and the receiver is strengthened and is able to move forward with a more solid view of life and himself.

In the Mankind Project validation is huge part of the training and words cannot express how powerful it can be and what it has done for my heart.  I have been seeking for over 50 years the feeling of belonging and being accepted by men.  My boy person never got that and so I grew up with a huge void.

I think and believe that as men we need to be more attentive to the validation needs of men around us, understanding that in our society men validating other men is probably one of the most powerful tools we can have and use.

I know I am not alone in the need to be validated.  I know I am not alone in aching to be noticed and loved by those men around me that I admire and love.  I am working on getting over my fears of rejection and learning to look beyond myself to validate those around me and to except the validation given to me.

It takes practice and effort and awareness to be able to reach out and lift those around us.  From the work place to our church families and everywhere else in between there is a great need in our world for men who feel validated and men who can validate other men.

For me, it's been a life changing experience to be able to see my value from the efforts of good men that take the time to show me my value and take the time to help me see how my value can lift others.

Men,  it's time to step forward and get over our fears of rejection and help each other see the value we have.  I love being a man and I love men, especially men who have the courage to validate.  Is there validation ahead for you?  Is there validation ahead for those in your path?

Feeling validated,   Brad

Monday, November 28, 2016

Are We Strong Enough




In a past post "The Trial of Abraham" I talked about what Abraham must have felt as he was asked to sacrifice his son.


"Such must have been the case with Father Abraham.  A prophet of God.  One of the mighty and great ones that walked on the earth.  He was obedient to all of God's commandments, yet he was asked to do hard things.  Things that would probably shake most to the very core.   Can you imagine being asked to sacrifice your only son.  Especially when you felt to the very core it was wrong   I cannot imagine the pain Father Abraham must have felt.  Do you think that perhaps as he was walking he questioned the Lord in his heart.   Do you think he pondered all the good he had done and possibly wondered why he was asked to do such a thing.  Thoughts must have crossed his mind like,  I am a good man.  I have done all I could to obey.  And then other thoughts like,  If only I had been better or I must not be good, and even,  Does the Lord love me.  How could he if he asks things that break my heart and the hearts of those I love".

Recently I was once again reminded of this great story, but this time my thoughts turned to God and what was going on in his mind, not that I know that, but it is interesting to ponder such things and I find great strength in maybe gaining a little understanding in His thoughts and plans for us.

In the story we think often of what Abraham went through and seldom think about what God must have thought.  I was thinking that God in his defense,  not that we have to defend God, but sometimes we often wonder how he could ask such hard things of his children.  I came to the understanding that the reason he asks hard things of his children is that he knows us.  Take Abraham for instance.  I am certain that God knew him and knew of his strength and conviction way before he even asked the question he already knew what Abraham would do.  He knew what Abraham didn't know yet.  He knew that Abraham had the strength to do hard things.  I believe that God does not just randomly place hard things on us to fail.  I believe that he already knows how strong we are and just how capable we are in being able to do the hard things he asks of us way before he asks them of us.

God already knew that Abraham and his son could do it.  Abraham and his son didn't realize it yet, but they came to understand that they could do hard things, something that God already understood about them and knew.   He did not set them up to fail, he never does that and never will.  He will never give us more then we can bear or take on.  Yes it seems like it's unfair and impossible,  but we, like Abraham have to trust that God knows best and move forward understanding God does not give us impossible tasks to perform.  God already knows we can do it and already has given us the strength and power to succeed.

We are all faced with seemingly impossible challenges.  We often question God's wisdom in placing them on us.  We often wish for lighter roads and easier task, not taking into consideration that God knows us personally and his design is for us to succeed not fail.   He already knows we have the power to do so.

Now you might be asking,  "If that is the case, why do I fail so often."   The answer is not God's lack of belief in us, but our own lack of believing in ourselves.  Our own failure to understand our potential and strength.   After all we are created in his image and have been sent to earth to succeed, not fail.   His design is not one of failure, but one of success and happiness.   As we learn to trust his belief in us and learn to trust that he believes we are strong enough for the things he asks of us we can  achieve great things.

No matter what the trial, no matter what the test,  he believes we can do it.   His belief in us is perfect.

I was thinking the other day about hard things he has asked of me and I had a strong feeling that he asked them because he knew I could do if I wanted to.  One of the hard things I felt that I was asked to do was start this blog.  It has been one of the hardest things I have done.  The judgment's that have come have been at times painful and hard to handle, but I take great strength in knowing that God does not ask us to do things we cannot do.   That does not mean it won't be hard, difficult, easy, and yes sometimes out right impossible.    I take confidence in knowing that God knows me and when he asks he already knows that I can do it.

Father Abraham was a man of strength and power.  His power came as he learned to accept the understanding that God knew him better then he knew himself.   As we learn to trust in that all trials and difficulties can be overcome and we can gain a greater understanding that God knows us and trusts in our strength to do hard things.

No matter what your trial,  no matter how hard it seems, take comfort in knowing there is a God and he knew before he placed the trial in your path that you have the strength to do it.   God knows you and knows you can succeed in all things.  Life is a journey,  hard, difficult, yet filled with joy and we come to understand we have the strength to do hard things.

Enjoy the Journey
Brad