Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Just in the last few years I came to realize some basic things about my personality that I have struggled with for a long time. Thanks to the ManKind Project and Journey into Manhood, and Journey Beyond I have a better understanding of who I am and why I struggle with certain things.
I, like most rush through life and push aside feelings and move forward ignoring basic needs and frustrations. I told myself for many years that I was weird, and different then most men. It effected my self esteem and my life.
There are some processes in life we ignore and yet when faced with them we learn a lot about who we are and why we do the things we do. MKP has been huge benefit in my self discovery. I have to come to realize one of the major reasons I have sought Manly Affirmations for most of my life was greatly due to the fact that most of my life I lived devoid of them, especially during the most important part of my life. As children we desperately need positive affirmations, especially from the men we admire and love.
It was like a huge light coming on for me when I realized that for the first 18 years of my life it was mostly devoid of Manly Affirmations. I guess I should give my definition of Manly Affirmations. To me a Manly Affirmation is as simple as kind words, positive words, word of encouragement, healthy touch, words of love, words of appreciation, kindness that is real and not based on wanting something in return gotten from men in our lives.
My home life was hard. My father, a good man, did not understand me at all. I was so far off his radar for what a son should be that he was not able to give me what I needed. And I have to add that my father was raised by his grandmother, an amazing woman, but did not model for him how to be a father. The community where I lived was harsh, school was torture for me each day, from the students to the teachers, I never remember once having a kind word ever spoken to me from anyone at school. Actually there were a few, but I was in such a bad place I couldn't take them. I tried different things to get the approval I needed, but on every attempt I failed. Even church offered nothing for me that I needed. I would go by my self because my need was so strong to be approved and most often I would come home feeling worse. Because my parents were not active members and my mom was actually the bartender at the local bar, I was shunned and treated badly. When adults have grudges against adults, it usually is past on to the child. That was how it was for me. I was judged by what people thought in their minds and had I no chance to prove myself.
I grew up aching for the approval of men. To be accepted and approved of by men was so important to me. I just wanted to be liked and shown respect from men.
I must state here that my desire for men connection was not for a sexual relationship with them, that has never been my desire, although through the years it was offered often, but that was not my intent or desire. I wanted to be acknowledged by men as a man. From work to church I sought acknowledgement in a positive way. At the time and still society has a hard time understanding and accepting anything that is not what they consider the norm. At the same time they are quick to label them with labels that hurt deeply and cause permanent damage.
In my community, from church, school, work, and home, I was called sissy, girl, faggot, wimp, baby, cry baby, weirdo, and many other names that hurt me deeply. I have to say the majority of it came from men and boys in my community. I was teased, beat up, spit on, ignored, pushed around, laughed at, and abused verbally, sexually, emotionally, and physically. Again mostly by men and boys in my community.
The pain of those days and experiences have plagued me for years and years. The pain was deep and even when I thought I was over it, it would come back in full force to haunt me and cause pain and discomfort in my life.
The reason I share is not for the reader to feel sorry for me but to perhaps help them to see just what kind of damage our words and actions can have on those around us. The little acts we do each day when compounded by little acts around us can create damage that can last a life time and effect many in ways we cannot even begin to understand.
I am sure those that abused me had no idea the damage they were causing. They were just following cultural norms and the crowd.
We need to be careful how we judge those around us and especially we need to make sure we watch the words that come out of our mouths. Our actions and words can cause endless sorrow and pain or endless joy and happiness.
So back to the story, In my life I came to understand that core needs are non negotiable, meaning for me a core need is to be affirmed by men. This can happen in many ways and often times in our culture the need is transmitted into inappropriate actions. Many believe that when a man voices those needs his desire is to have sexual relationships with men.
Affirmations need not be sexual and in truth sex is not an affirmation that often builds and lifts. Good affirmations are words of encouragement. Quality time spent. Appropriate holding and touch is a very strong affirmation. Appropriate means non sexual touch. Examples and good friends ships are also great affirmations.
For me to be heard by a man or hugged by a man or to be understood by a man is an amazing thing. For a man to recognize and verbally tell me the good they see in me totally makes me feel affirmed. I get frustrated when needing to be affirmed by a man are confused with wanting sex from a man. They may appear alike, but are totally different. To be gay is often to want to have or desire to have a sexual relationship with a man. For me to be affirmed is to want a spiritual connection and a deeper level friendship that exceeds that "Pat on the Back" style of friendship. There are many men who seek affirmation with men and not a sexual relationship. As a cultural we need to let that happen and not judge the choice of either. We need not assume that all Affirmation seeking men are gay or want to live that life style.
I must say there are no judgments on my part if that is the choice someone makes. I am saying that as a culture we assume to much and in the process men are not connecting in a healthy way for fear of being branded or fear of not being understood.
What we need to understand is that when a man has a core need to connect on a deeper level, not doing so causes more harm then we can imagine. Men that are denied those kind of friendships tend to struggle with self esteem problems, (me) or have struggles with pron and other addictions. When needs are meet in a healthy clean way, men most often are stronger and better adjusted in life.
I often think about the difference Manly Affirmations have had in my life. I have been able to be a stronger better man from the peace that has finely come into my life as I have accepted and embraced my need for healthy non sexual friendships. I have discovered that most men crave this type of connections. It is not just a gay thing, it is a Man Thing. We all need approval and acceptance in our lives. As a culture we need to be more open and accepting of those around us. We need to make sure those around us are affirmed and loved. From home to school, from work to church, we can change the course of a mans life simply by giving Positive Affirmations, and Manly Affirmations to the men in all parts of our lives.
I am a man and for me Manly Affirmations have changed my life and given me the power to stand up and be a better man. I love all my men friends that over the years have been there for me and supplied what I so desperatly needed and craved as a child and young man. Who among us is struggling with the need to be affirmed and loved in a positive healthy way by a man. Look around and come to understand that we all need positvie affirmations. Are we taking the time to lift, build, comfort, encourage, love, or are we to busy passing judgements to see what the real needs are.
Manly Affirmations change lives. At least for me, my life will never be the same.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
We have those days when we feel hopeless and alone. Life is a cycle at times. We are down and out sometimes and high and on top other times. I have learned that the dark times pass if we are consistent in moving forward and fighting the demons we are faced with.
Dark days can come from family issues, healthy issues, work, play, choices we make, and challenges we each face. No one is exempt from challenges, it is part of the process of life. Learning to deal with them and learning to find joy in the journey.
Recently I was in one of those moods, down and out and decided to take a few moments and write what I was feeling. Life has taught me that down and out does change. Some times, in fact often times it does seem like it will never change. When we are in the dark we cannot even dream that there is light ahead. But light does come and the darkness does flee and we are once again in a good place.
I hope this poem brings you some peace, especially if you struggle in at times. I hope it helps you to see that light will come and there is a source of light that is there for all to see.
Often life finds me lost
Lost in a sea of regrets and pain
Over come by waves of grief and shame
Waves that rip my very soul
Pushing me below the surface
So far under I cannot see relief
Lost in massive pains of fear
That fill my heart with deep despair
Leaving me breathless and broken
In my mind past relief or repair
I sink further, deeper into darkness
Consumed with doubt and brokenness
As I sink further down
The weight and frustrations
Cloud my mind and heart and sight
Leaving me alone and frightened
Feeling all is lost and gone
No hope for rescue or even light
The very bottom draws so close
I feel its solidness and endless mass
I yearn to sink even further
Perhaps in the depth
I can hide and be forgotten
Left alone to soak in misery
That quite dark place
Where no one comes
To disturb my aloneness
Will I be rescued or sink deeper
Will someone care or notice
That I am alone, lost past feeling
Is this journey meant to be
For me or anyone
A deep dark lonely endless sea
There is a glimmer
So very small
That breaks even
The darkest parts
And the deepest depths
It brings peace
Where hope is lost
And darkness reigns
And starts the assent
Almost without notice
Up up up
Out of the darkness
Slowly ever slowly
Light and breathe
With added strength
That can only come
That destroys all darkness
His light and love
His grace and mercy
Lift me beyond what I cannot endure alone
I am lifted
To the calm surface
The waves that raged
The depths so dark and deep
Are now forgotten
With hands of others
Lifts me up
And once again
I see the light
And Feel the peace
That I am not alone
Written by Brad Petersen
Monday, June 5, 2017
I have a dear friend that submitted this post and asked if I would like to post in on my blog. I love it and it is something that I really struggle with, Surreder. I have a hard time surrendering my life to a Higher Power, Thank you dear friend for sharing. And I hope you enjoy this post as much as I have enjoyed it and learned from it. Brad
One of the most difficult lessons we need to learn in mortality is the art of surrender. I've discovered that I have a problem with wanting to control everything, though I don't believe I'm alone in frantically confusing what I can and can't control. Peter had to surrender his logic to follow the Savior out onto the water, defying physics. Naaman followed the seemingly ridiculous instructions of the prophet before being cured of his leprosy. Abraham was asked to give up his beloved son, Isaac. Moses was led into the Red Sea, placing the lives of the Israelites into the hands of Jehovah. Coined by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, "The Serenity Prayer" has been a consistent asset in my personal pursuit of progress: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Sometimes we feel its impossible to surrender our wills to the Father, that our hearts yearn too strongly for things that we can frankly have but our Father forbids. How could the Lord allow our hearts and minds to be do fiercely conflicted and expect us to give in to His will? We must remember that our Heavenly Father also surrendered control - over us! He surrendered control by giving us the ability to choose Him or to choose ourselves. He's familiar with sacrifice, having sacrificed His sinless Son to grant opportunities to His rebellious children. When we tell ourselves it isn't fair, perhaps we're right. But was Christ's suffering fair? I used to think that I hated everyone, but I've found that I have the opposite problem; my love for others becomes maladaptive at times, resulting in codependency. When people I trust choose to leave the path, my soul is shredded and my heart breaks. What could I have done better? How am I to save them? Was this my fault somehow? The questions are endless. I am learning, as painful as it is to admit, that I am not the Savior. I cannot live others' lives for them, nor should they live their lives for me. No man is an island. Our behavior affects those we love, but our loved ones aren't in control of us. We each have control over our own choices and will have to answer for our own decisions. Because I cannot make choices for others and cannot in and of myself save them from the consequences of their actions, I can either worry fruitlessly or I can follow the admonition of the Savior for us to cast on him our every care. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, And he shall sustain thee. He never will suffer the righteous to fall. He is at thy right hand. Thy mercy, Lord, is great And far above the heav'ns. Let none be made ashamed That wait upon thee. (Schubring and Mendelssohn) I would die for my friends and family without hesitation, and I hope that they know that. But my life cannot satisfy the demands of justice or mercy in the lives of others. Only Christ's can. He's already paid the price, so why do we try to pay it ourselves? While I was still in diapers, I became best friends with another boy. We grew up together and had each other's backs against bullies and other such losers. Then his family life fell apart and I was ill-equipped to help. But still he said that he would stay true to the faith. So I was settled, thinking that he was right. Months later, he told me that he was no longer coming to seminary because he was leaving the Church. My world stopped turning. I was crying for days. Here I thought that I could always turn to him and he'd be there for me. He said he wouldn't change in any aspect of his life except that he didn't believe in the Church, but, unfortunately, this proved to be false. His personality changed as he began to throw one commandment after another out the window. I tried to hang out with him on occasion, but he was a different person. We both moved out of town and almost completely lost contact with each other. I obsessed over what I could have done differently, how I could have responded better or testified stronger. I blamed myself for a long time. While I was on my mission, another best friend (since kindergarten) left the Church as well. Again, bitter tears and self-blame. I couldn't believe that this was happening again. If I had been a better example, if I had steered him away from harmful influences more persistently, and so on. I have come to accept the choices of these two wonderful men and no longer grieve. Do I feel sorrow and miss them? Yes, absolutely. But I recognize that they have their agency and I have mine. A good friend went through a breakup and I did my best to help her understand the importance of surrendering what we can't control to the Savior. He knows what to do to make things right, anyway. Why don't we trust Him more? I wish that I could learn this lesson by now, but it just doesn't get easier to surrender my friends to their choices. I know, I know - codependency much? As I've progressed on my journey with same-sex attraction I have met so many wonderful people with the same struggles as I have. Our life experiences are painfully similar and it's incredibly easy to relate to one another. Obviously, this lends itself to close friendships. An unfortunate reality in our community is that people run out of strength and drift away on occasion. It's been difficult to see such beautiful people make mistakes and get stuck on the wrong path. When I found out that a loved one had given up in this regard, I broke. I've been sobbed every day for a week and lost about 10 pounds as food seemed to turn to ash in my mouth. Perhaps I had become codependent with this individual, but I've never felt such devastation before in my life. I prayed constantly and fasted and wrote his name on the temple roll. I reached out and, without giving details, asked dozens of people to pray for me and my friend. I begged for the ministry of angels. It came to the point where I was so sorrowful that I felt that I would only have peace through death. My parents were panicking as were some of my friends. I couldn't function in school or in my social relationships. I fretted and worried about what to say to my wandering friend, begging the Father to help me understand why it had to be him. What was I supposed to learn from this experience? I even asked Heavenly Father to punish me instead of my friend because he had been through too much already. After I said this prayer, I recognized that my codependency had gone too far. I expressed my fears to this friend and expressed how much I loved him. I told him that I respected his agency and his path, that I didn't want him to base his decisions around what I'd want. I reminded him that his relationship with the Savior was sacred and it was his. I acknowledged the horrific trials he'd experienced throughout his life and I wished that I could provide the answers to his questions. I testified that I had only witnessed miracles after I had endured in faith when I thought despair and hell-fire were about to consume me, and that I had to come to know the Savior. I then explained that I didn't start to understand the Law of Chastity until I really started to understand the Law of Consecration. I told him that I loved him enough to let him make his own decisions. While sitting with an old friend, we pored our hearts out to each other as is our custom. After listening to my emotional whirlwind, my friend offered "In my not so humble opinion, I think the lesson that you're supposed to learn from this trial is that you have to surrender the happiness of your friend to the Savior." I believe that she was exactly right (she's always right). In my prayers, I offered control over this situation over the Lord (as if it was in my control to begin with, bless my heart). I told the Father that I would rather surrender my crush* than lose this friend to the gay lifestyle. In that moment, I recognized that I was, in a way, offering a consecrated sacrifice to the Father. I offered the fierce love that I've had for my crush for so many years in order to bless the life of my friend, for whom I had pure, Christlike love. I gave my burden to the Lord, seeming to watch it go like a prayer boat over a waterfall. The Lord has answered my prayers and led this friend back to the path, but the process has been brutal. Our spirits might as well reach the pearly gates beaten and worn as a reflection of what we're dragged through in mortality! I believe that we're taught about agency so much that sometimes we develop a controlling mindset. When the Lord asks us to cast our burdens upon Him, He means it. I've found so much peace in handing over what I can't control to Him. The humility involved softens our hearts and opens them to hidden blessings. I know it's hard to let go. Sometimes I have to listen to Kelly Clarkson to get over the loss of a friendship since such an event is the closest thing I've experienced to a breakup. Pitiful, huh? However, sacrifice is a central principle of the Gospel (i.e. Tithing, the Sabbath, Obedience). As we give up the things we hold dear when God asks them of us, He in return showers us with the answers and hope that we seek. Johnny
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Brad, I read this quote today and thought of you…
We recognize what is lovely because we have seen it somewhere else, and as we walk through the world, we are constantly on the watch for it with a kind of nostalgia, so that when we see an object or a person that pleases us, it is like recognizing an old friend; it hits us in the solar plexus, and we need no measuring or lecturing to tell us that it is indeed quite perfect. It is something we have long been looking for, something we have seen in another world, memories of how things should be. ~“Goods of First and Second Intent,” Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9:528
You are an old friend, something I have long been looking for and have seen in another world.
When my friend sent this to me I knew I had to blog about it. It is a perfect discription of how I feel.
Have you ever had that feeling of meeting someone and knowing that you know them. Feeling so comfortable that you don't have to even work on the friendship. Instant attraction, instant friendship, with no work. Just that comfortable feeling of knowing someone.
I love that feeling and when it happens I have learned to act. Meaning don't let the moment pass without acting. Over the years my best friendships have happened when I respond to that familiar comfortable nostalgic friendship feeling.
It can happen to anyone, any age, any sex, any time. It started with me when I was a young man. I would meet someone and feel instantly connected. At first I was so confused and actually thought I was weird or something. It was unsettling to feel so strong about someone. One of the things that was hard for me was I had never had friends when I was growing up. I was abused so often that I closed my heart to connection. I couldn't stand the hurt or rejection that comes with connections.
In the small town I grew up in I had those feelings of connection, but it was impossible to move forward or act on them. When I did it turned into a painful hurtful expereince. There was one boy my same age. I adored him with all my heart. He was everything I wanted to be. I tried to connect with him. I remember how I would follow him around the playground at school. I would even take the abuse from him because I wanted him to acknowledge me.
He would invite me to his birthday parties, I later realized that his mother insisted. I was a project for him. Be nice to the Petersen boy. So he would make the appearance of being nice in front of his mother. I took the abuse because I was so neady for a friend. As I moved into high school my social skills were lacking on account of my extremly low self esteem. I had only a couple of friends and indeed they were not best friends. When I had the opportunity to leave the small town I grew up in it was an interesting experience. I would find I could make friends, but by the time I was comfortable and it was believable to me we would move back to the same town. Back to the abuse from all sides. Each year of high school we would move away for half the year and be back for the other half. It was pure hell. A roller coster of highs and lows. Away from the small town it was good, I loved the experience of being liked and even admired. But it was fleeting and never lasted long enough for me to heal my heart or to feel like a person of any value.
The only place I really found comfort was work. I started working at 12 years old in a local coffee shop. It was the one place where I was accepted. The older women loved me and treated me well. At work all was good. At home, school, church, and communtiy it was all bad. My self esteem was horrible.
So when I felt the connection I would not act. It was to difficult. The fear of rejection was to great to connect. When I finally was able to grow up and leave the community where I was raised things changed. I started acting on the connection. It was great. I learned to follow the feelings. The hard part was the overwhelming feelings of connection I felt. It was so strong at times I really felt something must be wrong with me. Those feelings of connection brought on guilt and shame.
Having grown up in a community where everyone assumed I was gay made it even more diffucult to trust my feelings. I felt guilt and shame for the strong feelings I had, especially when those feelings were for a man. I didn't have physical desires, but the feelings of love and connection were so strong. I learned to follow through with the connection, but still battled over our cultural up bringing that feeling connected to someone like that was wrong.
As I have battled childhood scars and have learned to overcome years of mental abuse I have come to except and embrace those feelings of connections when they come. I have learned to trust that inner voice and feeling when I meet someone and the voice yells out in my heart and head that this person will be a best friend. It takes practice and pushing aside feelings of rejection. But as I have learned to do that my life has been greatly blessed. I have made friends with amazing people that have blessed my life.
Let me explain my core belief after experiencing this for years. I have a strong feeling that some friendships started long before we came here. In my faith we believe that we lived before coming here as spirit children together. I believe we lived together for a really long time, time enough to establish close personal friendships, I feel that we had those that we were close with and when we meet someone here and have those strong feelings of connection, we are reconnecting.
That is my personal belief. One that has helped me to understand the challenges I have faced and for me it has given me peace and understanding. I have been able to move forward and develop great friendships without the worry of crossing lines or acting in an inappropriate way. I have learned that I can love deeper and more then our culture lets us. There are no limits on how many deep meaningful connections I can make and when I understand that I am reconnecting with perhaps old friends from another time and place it brings the friendship to a higher level of understanding and trust. If before I came here I made promises to help and lift, why would I want to destroy the friendship by following the worlds standards on what a man to man connection should be.
I get the fact that we can love deeply, the world would tell us that if we love deeply we should act on it according to the standards of the world. For example when two men love each other that deeply they should be able to express it any way they want. From sex, to marriage, to what ever they feel is right. I offer no judgement to those who do those things, but for me I feel that there is no need to express that love according to the standards of the world. I believe that men can love deeply and not cross the lines that their God, faith, or standards dictate. There does not have to be a battle over those issues. One can make the choice to follow God, faith, or standards and still have intense intimate close loving relationships with other men.
I know I know you, do you remember me?
Please feel free to comment. And share when you feel inspired or moved upon. You can join to receive notification when a new post is posted on the side panel.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
"Its not about who I want to be; it's about who I need to be."
Think about that statement for a moment. I was reading a book, actually a novel and that was a line in the novel. It hit me like a ton of bricks. How often do I go through life thinking about what I want to be and what I want to do and what I want to accomplish. I have come to realize that there is a far greater plan than what "I want to be". The big picture really is about "Who I need to be."
I often ponder about having the faith to be content with what I have and constantly not be looking to the future for bigger and better. Some times we need reminders that can take us down from our ladders of unnecessary climbing, especially when we are climbing the wrong ladder. That often happens to me. I have often found myself absorbed with what I want to be and I keep pushing focused on the "me" way to much. When that happens I find myself drowning in doubt and frustrations.
It is important to have goals and work towards things in life, but when we focus to much on the "me" we quickly lose track of the things that really matter in life. We should have the desires for better things and we should have the drive to improve and progress. But in all the moving forward there are a couple of things we need to remember and when I remember them life just seems to get better.
There are three things that I use to guide my life. When I remember these three things I accomplish more and am at peace with who I am and what I am doing here. If I focus on these three things I find a greater peace and direction in my life.
#1 God has a better plan.
This perhaps for the most part of my life has been the greatest challenge, and still is. I have an agenda and am driven by that agenda. I have in my mind where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. I was determined come hell or high water I was going to do it my way. I was determined I knew what was best for me and I pushed and pushed to get it done. I have to admit that I had years of frustration and anxiety over my jobs, where I lived, my career, what people thought of me, and family. I went through financial, emotional, and spiritual disasters. At one point after losing my business, "my" dream, and things that I held near and dear to me I realized that something was wrong with the picture. I stepped back and realized that I had an agenda and was not really concerned at looking at what God had in store for me. I was fighting against his plan for me and in the process I was unhappy. One day, I remember it well, I decided to step back and accept where I was and that perhaps God had a better plan for me. My current plan was not working out to well. My prayers became more focused on what could I do today to be where God wanted me to be. It was amazing the changes that took place in all parts of my life. And the amazing thing was a lot of things that I thought were important were not any more. Things that had frustrated me in the past no longer frustrated me as much. I actually said "Ok God, My plan is not working to well, what is your plan for me". I stepped back and watched as he revealed his plan for me. For me I decided that he sees so much more and knows what I need and where I need to be to serve his purposes. I still have desires for greater things, but I am learning to just move forward and trust in a far greater plan and trust that God will lead me and inspire me to be where I need to be. Life is richer and better. Still filled with frustrations and hard things, but when I feel those I just remind myself who really is in control, and it's not me.
#2 Take the time to edify others.
After realizing that God has a better plan of me the next important thing I learned was our purpose in life is to edify those around us. This is perhaps the most important part about "It's not about who I want to be, but who I need to be". In the who I want to be part of life we are focused on the "me". In all we do we are thinking about ourselves and for me I found when I am only focused on my needs they are not met and I am unhappy. Constantly looking for something that I can never find. Amazingly enough when we can learn to focus on others our lives become more complete. A great part of Gods plan for us is to learn to serve others and edify those that come into our paths. I have found when I am the most discouraged and unhappy, when depression and frustration overcome me, if I start focusing on others life returns to normal and the experience is sweeter. I believe to become all we are supposed to be can only happen as we learn to edify and serve others in a greater capacity. When we lose our life, we find it. When we learn to edify we others we are edified and we can start to see clearly who we need to be.
#3 Live in the moment
The past is the past, we cannot to anything about tomorrow, in fact tomorrow might not even come. Today is the most important part of our lives. What can I do to day. This goes perfect with numbers 1 and 2. God, what can I do today to make a difference. Guide me today to the things that matter most and will be of greater value to me in my journey. Who can I edify today. Who needs me today. Who can I lift, love, inspire, and bless today. See the power in that. Today matters the most. I can live his plan for the day, I can bless someone today. When I live in the moment, and make sure I am making the most of the day today things just seem to fall into place. Tomorrow doesn't matter as much and I am able to let go of yesterday. Often we carry the shame and frustrations of yesterday and don't allow the possibilities of tomorrow to happen because we don't live today.
Life is an amazing journey. Life is a hard journey. I am constantly battling, as most of us are, but in the midst of the battle I find comfort in knowing God has a perfect plan for me and as I edify and look to bless the lives of those around me I learn to live in the moment and enjoy the journey.
Greatest success to you as you trust in the plan, edify others, and live each day to the best of your ability.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
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.
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
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
Thursday, January 12, 2017
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.
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