The heart of a man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.
Vincent van Gogh
Beauty and Wreckage and Restoration.
It is the story of King David… it is the story of every man.
I was privileged to see the recent release of the film, The Heart of Man (writer/director Eric Esau). It was a beautiful story of the wreckage lust brings when played out in a man’s heart when beauty goes wrong and the redemptive heart of God to see all things restored. The combination of a short film, drama, and documentary of real life stories made for a flow of both dynamic imagination and disruptive truth.
Like an x-ray reveals a broken bone, The Heart of Man exposes a brokenness and slavery far too common to men. And just as the x-ray does not heal but invites us to see, so does this film. Awareness isn’t healing, but it is the critical first step to attention, care, treatment, and healing. Exposing what is in the dark, bringing what is hidden and private into the light, is the invitation for battle where the rescue and redemption and eventual restoration work of God are both hard fought and won.
In all the men’s initiatives, counseling, and conferences I have been fortunate to have been a part these past 20+ years, I have yet to find a man that was looking for pornography or sexual abuse the day it entered his story as a boy. No, pornography is much like a contagious disease… It is passed from one carrier to another, and the spirits of lust, fear, guilt, and shame are the culprits responsible for using compromised boys to infect other boys. So few Dad’s are addressing the issue because statistically, and in reality, the majority of them feel deeply “disqualified” because they are still not free themselves, or worse, they underestimate the power of this hijacked desire. And for those fallen to sexual abuse, it is an innocence assaulted, then stolen, leaving its victim with long-term side effects most often equipping them to act out, as well, later in life—used hearts that will use hearts.
In adolescence, we (men when we were boys) learn the practice of using girls; it’s the enemy’s chief tactic of sending marriages to the graveyard and boys and girls to prisons of guilt and shame…
There’s nothing loving about using, but that’s what men are taught early in the masculine journey.
The Heart of a Warrior
We must break the agreements we have made with the enemy of the feminine heart, see the x-rays and how we “accidentally” or intentionally collaborated with the kingdom of darkness, played right into their hands and therefore continue to let them use us to reinforce the wounds often volunteering for a fresh beating from guilt and shame that have men living less. Every now and then, Jesus just takes it away, but what I have seen 98% of the time is he wheels us into surgery. We willfully get on the gurney (our part) confessing the lie that we believed about ourself, women, or God (not just the behavior) that causes the spirals down, and then we repent, or turn from it—like signing a permission slip for Jesus to go to work loving us jealously from one inadequate source to one abundant source. Until we are experiencing the love we are looking for and go to God for comfort and strength rather than to her (or anything else for that matter), we will continue to take our heart’s affection and worship to the feminine image bearer again and again. Not without dire consequences… giving my heart away and demanding something in return is what conditional love is all about… and the last thing any of us needs is more and more demanding conditional love.
King David knew of this Belovedness, and he also wondered off; lured by boredom and pulled away for lack of love and mission. John Piper may have penned it best, “Sin is what we do when we are not satisfied with God.” The moments we are compromised, what looks shiny and promising, fulfilling, and even life-giving turn and become the caves of captivity where guilt and shame are the wicked jailers.
How do we get back? How do men find their way home? Most often it is like the prodigal son who comes to a sense, “It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ll go home.” And on the way, the wounded man/prodigal son is met by the loving father. Rescue almost always involves the one in danger reaching for the one entering the danger, even if it is to just stand and collapse into the arms of the one who has come to carry him the rest of the way home.
The Healing Journey home is one that goes beyond awareness…
Until a man has that same orientation as that of Christ [who knew who He was, where He was and the Good God was up to in His life] which comes from belatedness, a man will choose himself over his wife, his life over hers, and his needs over hers almost every time. Ultimately, women and men alike need to take their questions to the Father, looking to Him to discover the things that are truest about themselves.
The Heart of a Warrior
It is a beautiful and fragile thing when Restoration begins, and when a few years of relief have passed and a man is made ready, the Father will partner with a man into the rescue missions for the hearts of others. It was a beautiful moment in King David’s life when the loving confrontation began his steps of healing and his journey home. This is a beautiful moment in the film and one that I have witnessed day-to-day in our mission of seeing men free. Far to many have been lured away, used, and kept in a prison of repetition and lies. Free men can free men. Wounded men wound. The Heart of Man film and The Heart of a Warrior book can be awesome helps in taking good x-rays and then providing a good healing path… home.