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323/444 Healing from Infidelity: Sexual Intimacy #16, Surfing for God, Less is More
325/444 Healing from Infidelity: Sexual Intimacy #18, Surfing for God

324/444 Healing from Infidelity: Sexual Intimacy #17, Surfing for God, The Soul Care Highway

Life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.  

~Thomas Merton

Michael Cusick tells us in Surfing for God that The Soul Care Highway is Your Path to Freedom. I like how he says, "It isn't a detailed set of directions, like GPS that tells you when to turn and how far until you reach your destination. It functions more as an atlas that gives you a general lay of the land and what you need to know to get from point to point...All true spirituality is messy spirituality. We take wrong turns. We get lost. We don't stop and ask for directions. But as God restores souls, He faithfully guides us in paths of righteousness (Ps. 23:3)."

The Soul Care Highway, according to Cusick, consists of Soul Brokenness then Soul Attentiveness then Soul Care then Soul Transformation the Soul Brokenness and on we go again. 

In Soul Brokenness a man (or woman) is guided in seeing his refusal to look at his own stuff, his blame shifting (if she would just...), how he hides and sooths his own soul, past wounds to his own soul, and as this series, and Michael's book tells us that our problems with porn and lust are not about sex. Michael lays it out this way, "What wounds do you carry? What weaknesses do you conceal or compensate for? In what way does spiritual warfare play into the lies you believe? And finally, in what way does wickedness--the sinful self-reliance to preserve and protect yourself--play out?

The next area is Soul Attentiveness: It Can Be Developed. He says that soul attentiveness, "...means being observant and aware of your inner world. It is neither morbid introspection nor paralyzing analysis. Michael mentions David and other Psalmists as examples of men who are attentive to their souls. He then lays out four ways to practice soul attentiveness: Stalk Your Triggers (make a list of your triggers and learn to shut them down), Interrogate Your Cravings (what is the longing beneath your urge), you are not just horny, there is loneliness or a deeper emotion there, Surf Your Urges (acknowledge your urges then ride them out without giving into them, most urges last less than 30 minutes), and Carry Your Tension. He tells this fascinating story from former grad student, Ronald Rolheiser about carrying your tension,

One day, as his professor was lecturing on sexuality and morality, the issue of masturbation was raised. A student stopped the professor dead in his tracks with an audacious question: Do you masturbate? The professor's immediate reaction was anger at the student's blatant disrespect. He turned away from the class, faced the bblackboard, and was silent. After he composed himself he turned and addressed the student:

"My first reaction is to tell you that you're out of order and that you've no business asking a question like that in this class, or anywhere else. However, since this is a class in moral theology and in the end your question has some value, I will in fact answer you: Yes, sometimes I do--and I'm not proud of it. I don't think it's very wrong and I don't think it's very right either. I do know this though...I'm a better person when I don't because then I am carrying more of the tension that we, all of us, should carry in this life. I'm a better person when I carry that tension." 

Michael continues,

Carrying tension in this way is not an ascetic act of self-denial; it is an act of love. More often than not, when men masturbate, they cut off or detach from their souls. After the immediate ecstasy and release of tension, they experience a weakened sense of strength for having spent themselves. This occurs not only on the physical level, but on the emotional and spiritual level as well. 

I've learned over the last fifteen years that carrying my tension is key in growing into my strength as a man. Before that I was under the illusion that I should be able to figure out a way to live a tension free life and something must be wrong if there was tension. Moving into that tension helps me to more fully understand the longings that God has placed in me that are only partially fulfilled on this planet. It helps me to grieve what is horrible, including my own sin and more fully rest in grace. 

Next, Michael moves into Soul Care. What does the physical, relational, emotional and spiritual "You" need? This list is similar to the current tracks of intimacy we are discussing. It's important as it comprises about 1/5 of the 444 days. 

Finally, there is Soul Transformation. He affirms the courage of men. It takes great courage to break through the false ways we medicate our souls and look at what really takes place in our hearts. He says we really aren't ever completely transformed here but are in the process of transforming. The journey isn't complete until heaven. It is good to be on that journey with you.