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