The Darkness Underneath the Waterline
I both hear from others and notice in myself how that during every weekend staffing an area of darkness bubbles up that we/I were previously unaware. Our container of authenticity, integrity, and grace shines light in those concealed and hidden places. The darkness I speak of is not necessarily an “evil presence” or some deep dark secret sin. It is as simple as those parts of myself I have either put out of sight or set aside in order to survive “real” life. If, however, I leave it in that hidden place too long, it will become a much bigger deal and usually will come out in a very unhealthy way.
I began to pay attention as this occurred. What I discovered is I do not feel safe to be fully me in my everyday life. The men on these weekends allow all of us to be who we are, constantly. I can bring the good, bad, and the ugly. All of me is welcome. At times, I may be challenged by men to shed light on a particular way I am showing up. It is challenging to look inward, but each time men hold me in grace, love, and truth. I am able to look underneath the waterline and choose a different behavior.
Reflecting on my encounters with a safe container, I realized that between times that I am in these safe places, my real world exists. In my real world, I am becoming more and more open, authentic, direct, clear regarding my behaviors, wants, and leading. However, that is not always welcome in my world. When parts of me do not feel welcome, I set them aside or deny them completely. I push them back under the waterline until…I am triggered…and they come out in unhealthy ways. Alternatively, I get back into a circle of authenticity where I can look at these parts of myself and welcome them back into the light.
Our weekends are not the only place I can begin to look underneath the waterline. I have men I can go to, and groups where I am able to notice what I am concealing or denying. However, the weekend’s focus and the invitation of God’s presence begins to wake up those unconscious parts of me.
I am grateful that things surface for me each time I staff. I am grateful that men in my group support holding me to be the man that God called. The problem…my “real” world. As I step into my daily grind, I will at times have the tendency to begin to hide and repress parts of me that I perceive are not acceptable. I become triggered more often than I (a man who has staffed over 50 weekends and participates/leads in groups for years) should. At times, I wonder whether I am making progress or not. Furthermore, I perceive those who know I am in growth work wonder the same.
What do I do? I often use this phrase when working with men who wonder how to incorporate our concepts of authenticity, integrity, grace, love, and truth into everyday life: “How can I when they don’t?” Knowing that many of the people with which we come into contact have not and do not follow a philosophy of growth, what do I do in order to maintain relationship? Here are a few ideas:
- Be Thankful – Weekend staff members are our mirrors. Everything we do is to help men, us, to become who God made us to be. The more I uncover my truth, the closer I become to who I am supposed to be. It may be painful to uncover a blind spot or something I have repressed, but my new strength the process builds is worth it.
- Lean on Advisors (Fellow Redwoods) – Who better to look into your soul than someone who is working toward this same authentic living? Find that trusted man who is willing to speak the hard truth to you. I may not like what I am hearing. It may be painful. Truth be known, that pain of a precise cut is less pain than the way I am doing life when I hold stuff under the waterline.
- Walk Differently – All too often, I become aware of how I am living life. I look at the source, and receive some relief. However, many times, I do not move forward living differently. I go back to my familiar way of life. It is more difficult to walk differently. Dmitri Bilgere mentions this as “…truly living your life in God’s blessing for you.” (Read the article HERE) The next step is to walk as your true self.
- Recognize Opposition is not about YOU – When you make changes, people around you may not like it. For me, many times I tend to make choices on my behavior based off what someone else expects. Therefore, when I behave in truth and authenticity, those around me become uncomfortable. They may even push back to manipulate me to be what they expect. This is no longer about me; it is about their discomfort with the authentic me. I have to be good with my true self.
Taking all of this into account. Reflecting back on the most recent weekend staffing. I am grateful that I see places in my life where I am still pushing parts of me under the waterline. What a gift. The week following that revelation is difficult. “How do I when they don’t?” It does not matter that they are uncomfortable. I am called to walk different. I will do so in consideration of their hearts and needs. Nevertheless, I am leaving my current pain to live as God sees me.
By Byron Myers
Byron is a weekend leader and completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009. His deepest desire is to help people believe in their God-given goodness and live lives of integrity, authenticity and feel loved and accepted. Byron is the author of the ebook, Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word. Byron is the High School Principal at Midland Christian School in Midland, TX and a successful Business and Personal Life Coach. Follow Byron at Weekly Devotional Thoughts.
Photo credit: Creative Commons