Every Thursday morning I begrudgingly pull myself from the warmth of my covers, and roll over fumbling to turn off my alarm clock. Rubbing my eyes, I stare at the red digital numbers, casting their evil early morning glow. "Why do I do this? I hate this! I need this. I want to sleep. No, I really want to go (but I don't). I need to go." The argument rages in my sleepy head.
It's time for men's group.
I drive in my cold car, hearing the engine's belt screaming, "Why do you do this to me!", ducking my head below the frost on my windshield, watching the road pass beneath the tires. I often wonder why I do this to myself. Even as I drive into the Church parking lot, I hear a voice saying, "Maybe no one saw you pull in. You could still turn around and catch a few more winks before work."
There are times when,I admit, the voice wins out well before I pull off the covers, much less into a parking spot, but I know it will throw any lies it can at me to keep me from meeting with these godly men; my lifeline.
Why is it so hard? The cold? The hour of the day? Or is it becoming emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable before a group of men. Confessing. It's admitting to men I respect that I messed up that week. It's letting them see me for who I am, rather then who I want to be. It's the accountability of knowing they can keep tabs on me. They'll know if I am making changes in my life or standing stagnant.
Vulnerability is horribly uncomfortable. Ironically, it's also what keeps me coming back.
Men's group is not a tea time (although I do like tea times). We don't eat crumpets (although I certainly wouldn't mind a crumpet every now and then), and cry about how the world has failed us. We don't check our masculinity at the door. Instead, we strive to become better men--fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers. To take responsibility; to live disciplined, God honoring lives. We are Pirate Monks, as a favorite book of mine would call us--sinners in the process of sainthood. Active journeyers in our Christian walk, recognizing Christ's sanctifying work in our lives.
I have seen godly men fail. I can no longer say, "I could never do that." I know my heart is deceitfully wicked. I am capable of all kinds of evil. I know all human hearts are. Without the grace of God, the cleansing sanctification of Christ, and the uplifting support of the church, we are all doomed to fail. We can't afford to pretend any longer that we got it all together. We don't, and no one does.
There is such a beauty and freedom that falls upon that circle of men in our vulnerability with one another; uncomfortable yet truly liberating freedom. I realize that every guy in that room is just as screwed up as me, and that God loves us each immensely.
Human beings are capable of deep bonding. Trials, interests, values, experiences; all of these things can weave a bond as thick as family between people. But the link between brother's and sisters in Christ is different. It runs deeper then the blood of family ties; because it is eternal. It is family in the truest sense of the word.
I love these men(a manly, beef jerky-football-grunting kind of love of course...). We are the Church, living as the Church. I can't imagine what life would be like without the support of the body of Christ. So empty, and constricting. I will choose to live in the freedom I have been given. Even if I have to set my alarm clock a bit earlier.