I have noticed something about myself as a guy that I think other guys can resonate with as well. And I find it troubling.
It’s the misconception that the battles I face and the brokenness I experience are unique to me. I think of it this way. As I view my own life and the emotional and spiritual discouragements that I encounter, I am looking for solutions. Meaning, I want my problems fixed. I want to cease doing whatever is tripping me up; I also want to change and add new habits that are going to propel me forward into certain victory.
The false dilemma that I find myself in many times is that I believe I am all alone in my problem. Like the picture above, I describe us guys as feeling as if we are living life in our own canoe, traversing waters with no one else in sight. It is as if I am paddling solo with not much of a map and a compass that is as accurate as Jack Sparrow’s in Pirates of the Caribbean.
I think many guys experience this feeling because no one really disagrees with me when I tell this to guys. They just nod their head. And so we continue to paddle our “canoe” in our own perspective and strength, misinterpreting what is going on around us.
So why do we guys do this? There are two conclusions that I have come to:
- I feel as if the situation is too complex. I can think of more than one circumstance in my past where the problem seemed so overwhelming and complicated that it would just take too long to unravel the story to someone else. It seemed like a tangled mess of string. If I could not figure out my own life, how in the world could someone else?
- I am too ashamed to admit what I am struggling with. I doubt any else is going through the same thing that I am and they just would not understand.
And so, with each of these, we continue to paddle solo in our canoe. And part of the reason this continues is because we view the situation through our own perspective. We are blind to our blind spots and we don’t know what we don’t know. I am an expert at counseling myself. In fact, I can counsel myself into despair within about 10 minutes.
Enter community. This is exactly why every guy should have a small posse who is committed to “stepping into my canoe.” Without this? I will most likely destroy myself. This is a huge danger and not too many discuss it.
I believe too many of us are doing the “solo canoe” thing and wishing it were otherwise. And so you have all these guys wishing things were different and nothing changes.
Can I make a suggestion?
As a guy, start asking the “No, how are you really doing?” type questions that are going to lead to transparent conversations. You be the guy who initiates. You be the one who sets the pattern. You be the one to help other dudes in moving conversations and relationships from the “solo canoe” to the “community raft.”
As a wife, you have the both the privilege and mandate to step into your husband’s world. He may answer “Nothing.” to the question of “Anything going on?”, but my wife has been a good example of this and I have found her to be my closest ally.
This “solo canoe” mindset is a deceitful trap. And it never works. And the thoughts inside your head will lie to you.
“No one is going to understand anyway.”
“I am sure no one else struggles with this. I am on my own.”
“I cannot believe I am stuck here again. Nothing is ever going to change.”
This is a mental trap that more guys are caught in than would care to admit.
Everyone keeps waiting…wishing for someone to ask how things are going. Wishing someone would step into their canoe. Instead, why not be the one who asks and who initiates? Why not be the catalyst for new habits, growth, and community?
This summer I organized what we called Redemption Men. It was a weekly men’s gathering one time a week for six week. It was centered around conversations in God’s word with praying together as men. I was surprisingly pleased with how many guys craved this type of thing. To have 5-6 guys sitting around a round table talking life. Discussing struggles and temptations. Being transparent about L-I-F-E. It carried over past our six weeks.
Too many of us guys are living life as if we are in canoes – solo. We need to start living life as if we are in rafts – together.
Will you be one to do this with other guys? Their spiritual future, and yours, may be at stake.