According to Jake Hamilton, we have a crisis of men who can’t stand in tension and actually hold it well.
What does he mean by that?
In Episode 80 of Raising the Standard, I got to talk to my friend Jake Hamilton, musician and entrepreneur who’s on a mission to reclaim and restore masculinity.
We covered a LOT in our hour plus long discussion, and you seriously should check out the whole episode, but one of the things that stood out is when we talked about mystery and tension.
Jake shared how the marker of a Christian man is that we go first; not in systems and structures, but in servanthood and sacrifice, choosing to show up when no other man will show up, and hold the tension for those who cannot do so yet. We’re to become pillars and strengths because [Christian men] can live in mystery and in tension.
But too often today we don't do that.
We live in complete dualism, black and white, right, and wrong, God or devil. There’s too much duality, and it's not real. But yet when we go into a church or we go out into our culture, that's what we're experiencing.
And the reason our culture is experiencing this is because that is what the church is teaching. Historically the church was meant to hold the tension and the space that culture itself could not hold. That's why we had priests, monks, desert fathers; that's why we had these men who lived in the tension. As men, we held that space of tension so well that it eradicated fear and gave birth to some ridiculous faith.
But we don't do that anymore.
Father and Mother Wounds
Jake told us how like many, he never had a dad who was there, which led to a deep father wound.
A mother is supposed to be the one who loves us unconditionally even when we suck, so when you suck, mom tells you "you're amazing, you're the greatest thing that's ever been.”
And a dad is the first one in love who chooses you. So if you never felt chosen or you don't feel preferred or like you can connect with men, that is a father, a very basic definition,
A lot of us are carrying those wounds and we don't even know where we fit in because we never had a dad tell us “you're chosen, you're safe, you're good. You suck in these areas, but we're gonna work on it. Don't worry, ultimately you're still loved, I pick you.” Along with a mom going, “you're the greatest thing ever. You're the best, you could do no wrong!”
If you never got that from a mother figure, that's actually more damaging than a father wound, because then you have no value system to work from you don't even know if you just are loved in general.
And when that's the case, we start working over time to get picked, to get preferred, to get love, from somewhere else. That's what we're seeing in culture.
So we’ve got duality everywhere because we don't have a church that knows how to hold tension. We got rid of the Eucharist and replaced it with a pulpit and said, “My opinion is bigger than the blood and body of Jesus Christ.”
Then on the other side, we have this reality of mother and father wounds that we've never actually worked through where we don't know who we are, so we can't hold tension, and then wonder why culture as a whole and the church are like totally jacked when raising up men.
We Don't Really Understand God.
In life, we end up having to put things in boxes, such as right or wrong, good or bad, those things, and it's all protection stuff. We are talking about an eternal everlasting God who breathed everything into being, holds it all together, all the way down to the smallest nano-nuclear value systems that we don't understand yet, and we're pretending on Sundays through a few songs and in a short sermon that we “get it” and understand it.
Well, that is a big load of junk!
We don't really understand God. I don't care how big your ministry is or how many PhDs you have -- no one is gonna walk up to the Creator whose eyes are flames of fire with a sword coming out of His mouth, feet like bronze, white hair, glowing like the sun and it's like, “that's just like I thought."
No, we're gonna get there, see Him and go, “dude, I had no idea!!!”
So first, there's the tension of pretending like I understand something that is impossible for me and my finite mind to understand about my Creator.
Then on top of that, how that plays out in my life is I feel like I need to know whether or not something is [from] God before I can do anything with it. This is a massive problem because we’ve young people who are sitting around doing literally nothing, waiting on “a word” from the Lord before taking action.
If you think about it, that's bonkers.
Magpie Theology & Third Way Thinking
Jake also believes in healing, but told us how having a daughter with cerebral palsy helped him wrestle with the tension of God as a healer. We've got two choices, I can either go, “Well, God doesn't heal” and then build a theology around it, or “He always heals and there must be something wrong with me” and spend the rest of my life cycling through deliverance ministries and fasting and praying for something that I fully don't understand, thinking it must be my fault somewhere.
OR it’s a magpie understanding.
If you’ve ever seen a magpie from a distance, it is two colors; black and white. But in getting up close to a magpie you see that it's blue as well, but you don't see it from far away. So we need the reality of third way thinking; we need a third option thinking which is tension and mystery, that it is both the yes and no; death and resurrection in the same body, in the same person, at the same time.
Death and resurrection holding one hand.
We like one Good Friday and then one Easter. But it’s not separate, it's one single experience. Death and resurrection in one hand -- that is the reality of tension and mystery, when we can embrace the both/and and feel the conflict, but embrace it.
Men Get Healing From Facing Past Traumas and not Ignoring Them
Jake tells men he works with to look at their eight-year-old self in dealing with past hurts and traumas: OK, that happened. What the church mostly does is either get rid of that so that you're a new creation in Christ, or we have to recognize I'm not supposed to get delivered from the abused eight-year-old version of me that's actually a part of who I am. It was bad, it was wrong, and I need to grieve it so that it can be integrated into my life as a part of who I am today; it actually made me the way I am.
Understand: we don’t make excuses for our abusers, but you can't get rid of the fact that it happened to you. So you have to ask yourself, what are you going to do?
Either living in the tension of it makes me the man I am today. Or spend the rest of your life going, “I'm not really worth much because that happened to me.”
A lot of men ask what to do with the 8-year-old version of themselves that was beat by their mom or by his dad who abused and abandoned them. What are we to do with that?
You grieve over it. It's the Beatitudes.
Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted (Matt 5:4).
So the first step we have to do in tension is grieve. We have to actually learn to grieve and mourn so that the parts of us that are not yet healed we can actually grieve them and experience comforting in that place.
"If I don't get comforted I'll settle for comfort, and comfort, I can buy comfort (escapism), but then I'm not getting comforted, I'm just paying for comfort, and that's escapism." - Jake Hamilton
All this stuff Jake Hamilton and I discussed in this episode is related to deep discipleship, which we don't see a lot right now because you have to be super intentional, you have to understand it, and you have to have some men in your life that can help you process this because you just don't learn this on your own, this is taught to you somehow, and you're coached and instructed through it.
Click the video below to hear this segment on mystery and tension with Jake Hamilton, but really you should listen to the whole thing.
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