As “blog launch day” has drawn near, I really struggled with what to write for the inaugural TWM post. There’s so many ways I could have gone, but a lot of what I thought to say about this site is already in the MANifestio (should be done in the next week or so), so it didn’t seem helpful to just rewrite it here. But then I thought about the one thing that connects all of us. It’s something that Hollywood has known for so long and has exploited to make fists full of dollars selling kiddie pool deep rom-coms. It’s the Jerry Maguire, “you complete me” syndrome. It’s our need to find that one thing or one person that will help make us feel whole. That missing element that will signal our completion. We lay the weight of all our hurt and all our expectations onto it, in hopes that it can bear the burden and make things “right.”
Really this is something that all of us deal with, it’s hardly unique to men, but since TWM is directed at men, this blog is going to talk about the things that they seek in an attempt to feel whole. Realistically that list is pages long, and hopefully over the life of this blog we’ll cover many of those things. For this post, we’ll say that it basically boils down to four things: Profession, Possessions, Persons, and Power. Most men attempt to fill that empty space with one of those things. Some pour all of themselves into their career in an attempt to “be known.” For some, it is stuff; the biggest TV, newest phone or nicest car. You can even put things like pornography, gambling or other addictions into this category as ways that men attempt to fill the voided space. Others look to a spouse, partner, group of friends or even his kids as a way to define who he is and feel accomplished. And still others try to use power in an effort to “be somebody.” Somehow, at the end of all that, there’s still a space; still a void that inexplicably can’t be filled.
Before I go any further let me define “wholeness” as I’m using it. In James 1:4, in talking about tests to our faith, the writer says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) uses the words “complete” and “whole” accordingly. One of the main things I want to do is differentiate the idea of wholeness and perfection. Often biblical translators use both words somewhat interchangeably. Merriam-Webster defines perfect as, “being entirely without fault or defect, flawless” and “lacking in no essential detail: complete.” But as for whole, MW defines it as, “recovered from a wound or injury: restored” and “physically, mentally and emotionally sound.” For the purposes of TWM, perfection occurs when Jesus comes back or we die and enter eternity. Perfection isn’t possible this side of eternity, but the pursuit of perfection is possible and wholeness is part of that. When I say wholeness I’m talking about being restored and healed. I’m talking about Jesus reconciling us to God, healing our hurts and making us a new creation. That does happen this side of eternity.
In our attempt to find wholeness, we’ve convinced ourselves that that “one thing” is out there and we just need to look long enough or search harder. Unfortunately so many men search their entire life and never feel quite whole. Some may get close to feeling fulfilled, but that’s not the typical story. If you google the phrase “something is missing in my life,” you’ll get about 218,000,000 results, and a lot of them are quizzes and tests to help you figure it out. Clearly there’s a lot of opinions on how to find wholeness. Obviously I’m not going to provide some profound insight into wholeness, nor do I have all the answers, but from what I’ve experienced and conversations I’ve had with other guys, I’ve found that there are two reasons that most men have difficulty finding wholeness.
1. You’re looking in the wrong place.
C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Logically, if there are 218,000,000 resources to help you find that “thing” that will make you whole and there’s still an enormous amount of people still looking, maybe Lewis is onto something. Maybe it isn’t that we’re not looking hard enough, but that we’re looking in the wrong place. Maybe we’re not meant to find wholeness in this world. If wholeness is possible and we’ve been unable to find it in the things of this world, maybe we ought to start looking in other places.
An easy argument might be to look to other religions that offer a more holistic response to the “who am I?” question. Unfortunately every other religion, whether outright or subtly, tells us that we need to try harder. They still put the responsibility on us to find that “one thing.” Christianity doesn’t do that. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He’s offering us the ability to come to Him and rest so that He can exchange incompleteness for wholeness.
To be clear, it isn’t instantaneous and it isn’t some magic formula. It’s a process of rebuilding and healing. Restoration and healing take time. Given time and a commitment and connection to a community of other Christians that love you, wholeness comes.
2. You’re unwilling to be open.
Most of the conversations I’ve had with other guys revealed that their inability to be “satisfied” with their life is really a result of some level of stubbornness or unwillingness to be open about their hurts and struggles. I know, it’s not a popular thing for men to talk about their feelings, and we’ll talk about that more as time goes on, but it doesn’t change the fact that being closed off affects your ability to find wholeness. Often times a major road block to wholeness is a lack of healing for the wounds that we carry. I don’t presume that being open about our hurts is easy. I know it isn’t. However, I do know being open is essential to achieving a sense of wholeness. At the very least it’s necessary to begin the process of actually seeking wholeness.
I think one of the most beneficial things I’ve done, and many of the guys I’ve coached have done, was finding a group of guys who will allow me to be honest. And I’m not talking about an “accountability” partner. Accountability is necessary, but it’s only a part of what I’m talking about. I’m talking about friendship. A community of men, who span a wide breadth of experience and wisdom; men who can be honest with each other and walk though healing together. A community of love is by far one of the best tools that Jesus left us in our journey toward wholeness.
Wholeness is the thing that leads to the abundance of life that Jesus was speaking of in John 10:10. My hope is that TWM will be a place that encourages men to gather and seek healing and wholeness together. In doing this, we’ll get to experience that abundance of life and better fulfill the roles for which we were created.
I’m looking forward to seeing where The Whole Man takes us. I definitely don’t know it all and am still walking this path is a number of areas of my life. Because of that, I think this thing works best if it’s collaborative and generates discussion.
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