For the past five days, I served at my eighth Restoring the Soul, Surfing for God Men's Intensive. Michael Cusick leads the weekend with teaching, spiritual direction and his unique way of ushering the men to the base of the cross.
He lives out the first requirement of battling for men's hearts and souls. That requirement is surrender. Surrender is the beginning of the battle. Surrender includes spearing our hubris, bowing our knees, and receiving from Jesus. It is also includes leaning into the truth that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God.
My primary role is facilitating a soul group with six attendees and a co-facilitator. These men arrive broken and beaten down on the wheels of life. They yearn for freedom. My heart is deeply moved towards them and God as they share their stories and dilemmas. A tight bond is woven among the eight of us over the weekend.
Near the end of our time together one man shared with me these words of affirmation, "Ben, I've appreciated the words you've spoken to me this weekend. Your presence is comforting. You are strong, gentle and unsanitized." We all busted into laughter at the word unsanitized.
But I've never felt more known and seen than in those words. I am all those. I've learned to have the courage and lean in when a voice inside says run away. I know that I hear more and move to change more when the words are tender vs harsh, though the words are still bold. And sometimes with Christians, they need unsanitized and not polished for their masks and false selfs to melt away. Heated grace consumes them and releases them from a fake persona connecting them to their true heart that was always there. Oz didn't give nothing to the Tin Man that didn't already have.
And when I think of our book, it too is strong, gentle and unsanitized. It isn't perfect but it is direct and strong. Deep truths are presented in a gentle way. And it is unsanitized. Written to couples dealing with affairs or other forms of betrayal, couples whose lives have exploded in the last 30 days, the words shit and fuck tend to be common vocabulary during that time. These words represent the depth of their pain and confusion. And if I don't go down into the shit with them, most likely they won't hear anything else I have to say.