The Suffering Silent

Anxiety, Depression, and Men

Jon’s Instagram Pics & a Few of his Favorite Things

Jon frequented my blog pages and Instagram account and so in memoriam I thought, “what would he want me to share with my other readers?” The answer is simple but the solution not so much.

We must do a better job helping our men (both young and old alike) who are suffering silently.

Two of Jonathan’s recent retweets shared his heart:
“I really don’t need another Bible verse. I need a hug.”
“The loneliest people are the kindest, the saddest people smile the brightest.”

And that he did. He had a wonderful way in knowing how to make other’s smile and was grateful to those of you who listened and helped him smile along the way.

In 2014, Bryan Reeves shared: “Most men think we have to do it alone. Bear whatever burden alone. We don’t ask for help. We don’t confess our worries, our sadnesses, our confusion, our despair. We don’t engage other men in vulnerable conversations. . . There’s a core cultural message that says men can’t ever show weakness. We can’t need to rely on anyone, and we can’t make a mistake. If we do, the world will fall apart. Or at least we won’t have an honorable place in it anymore. So we grin and bear it. We do it ourselves.”

“At its worst, ‘grin and bear it’ leads men to the gravest act of check-out possible: suicide. What 22 despairing military veterans will do today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day. What aging NFL football players do to themselves. The same thing many teenage boys do, who die by suicide four times more often than girls.”

Anxiety and depression seem to be one of those touchy subjects that we often get wrong in Christianity. Quite often we don’t truly understand the complicated complexity and the myriad manifestations of mental disorders represented in the church. Way to often (like we do in way too many situations) the church offers her Sunday school pat answers like “get right with God and it will all work out” or “You don’t need meds. You need to pray more.”

I recently read, “The Word is full of wisdom and encouragement for those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, but it doesn’t come in one-verse doses. ‘Be anxious for nothing’ and ‘do not worry about your life’ can easily be taken out of context, which is problematic. First (and importantly), doing so fails to appropriately handle Scripture, carelessly misconstruing the larger intent of the passages.”

“Another really scary thing this does is it can convince a person in the worst throes of their illness that they’re not obeying God. Add that to what feels like the inability just to be – every shaky breath hurts and getting out of bed is impossible – and you’ve thrown gasoline onto the fire.”

We need to learn how to do a better job understanding, encouraging, listening, and coming alongside our fellow brothers and sisters as well as those outside the church who are suffering in pain, loneliness, and despair.

My challenge to my readers today is to be more aware of the “Jonathans” around you and what they’re going through. Let’s stop settling for our memorized messages and take time to truly get to know each other because “everyone’s story matters.”

Jonathan,

You told me several times that you looked forward to reading my book in completion, that you found hope through my blog posts, and that many of the topics I tackled were those needed most within the church today.

Friend. I am sorry that you did not get to read my book in its entirety but I thank you for the feedback you gave and the encouragement you were on my book writing journey.

Way too many suffer in silence. May your story echo on and on and remind us that all of our stories matter and that we need to take more time to listen, love, and smile!

RESOURCES
Steve Austin’s Story and Grace is Messy Books
Self-Care for the Wounded Soul: 21 Days of Messy Grace
The Gift of Hard Things: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places
Some Things You Keep: Letting go. Holding on. Growing up.
Top 10 Books on Depression
SecondChance.Org

https://bryanreeves.com/hiding-weakness-kills-men
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/5-things-christians-should-know-about-depression-and-anxiety

God wants us to overflow with hope, but is hope attainable? Is it possible that we have misunderstood what hope is really about? Join us this Sunday as guest speaker Steve Hinkle challenges our assumptions and reminds us that we were designed by God to be filled with hope!

Date: March 26, 2017
Time: 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Event: Stone Hill Bible AM Service
Topic: But I Will Hope
Venue: Stone Hill Bible Church
815-725-1544
Location: 1516 Edgerton Drive
Joliet, IL 60435
Public: Public

Every Young Man Needs a Mentor

February 2017 Update: Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) ends up adopting Richard Grayson because he’s distracted. It was not intentional or premeditated.

As I watched the hilarious Lego Batman movie with my family, its overarching “you can’t do it alone” moral (yes, there was one) shouted at me above the hilarities and brought to my mind once again the fundamental reality that every young man needs a mentor!

Like Bruce, many men don’t realize the need for good mentors and few take the deliberate risks needed to apprentice our next generation of men. So many boys and teenagers (like Richard) would be elated to have a dad or another man take an interest in them and guide them on their masculine journey. Having a young man by his side who had experienced similar familial difficulties was exactly what Bruce needed to finally face his own fears and enter the adventure of apprenticing a future hero.

Looking back upon my adolescent years, I realized that I desperately needed another man in my life. I yearned for someone to believe in me and tell me. I quietly wished for someone to show me the way and sometimes walk beside me so I could see real life in action. I wanted to know that my masculinity and identity were both in tact and that my life was headed in the right direction. I needed a mentor. I didn’t know it at the time and they didn’t see it.

They didn’t see it, maybe because they thought I had it all together. I had a wonderful mom and I was doing well in school. I was an introvert and so maybe they couldn’t read my heart but down deep inside it was screaming “love me,” “know me,” “believe in me.” I kept the hurt, self-hate, and frustrations deep inside.

I often dreaded recess in sixth grade. It was that time of day when we weren’t required to be in the classroom with others unlike us. This was the time of day when everyone gravitated to those who were most like themselves. Everyone seemed to gravitate to their group while there were a few of us too scared to say hello. We would just try to hide or blend in. However, there were those few days that someone came up with the “brilliant” idea that everyone should play a game of kickball together – everyone.

Team captains would be chosen from our elite sixth grade athletic “medalists.” The powerful and strong would be selected first, often followed by the attractive females who had to be dazzled by the team leaders’ exquisite participant choices of course. Then there was me and the other guy or girl. We were the non-athletic and ungainly, the quiet and the divergent, the last and the listless. Every once in a while, there would be that cordial kid who didn’t want to make me feel bad, give me a wink, and say “I’ll take him. He’s cool.” That would have been more comforting if there had been more than two amateurs left to pick from and by cool, I’m pretty sure he meant “not too hot.”

I always felt like a misfit. I was often called a wimp. Even if it wasn’t entirely true, I felt like no one cared. No one really knew what I was feeling inside. I felt alone and I felt unwanted. My dad was never around and my mom was struggling with so much hurt that I didn’t want to bother her with my questions and worriment. All I wanted was to be was chosen.

Perhaps I did know that I was craving someone who would care. Maybe I knew what it was that I needed but instead of asking for help, I decided to encourage others. At the age of sixteen, I began reaching out to those younger than me and started leading a Wednesday night program at the church to try and help them feel wanted and loved. I was applauded for my efforts and I gave my all but my heart was still lonely. I would give away the smiles and then return home to cry myself to sleep.

What I truly desired was a personal role model. I longed for an older man to step into my life and breathe into me a fusion of beauty and strength, self worth and sacrifice, laughter and tears. I needed a mentor.

They didn’t see it. I didn’t know it.

Do you see it? Can you not see the brokenness and anguish around you: your son, your student, your neighbor, your grandson? They may not know it yet but they are in need of an older man who cares and tells them and shows them the way. What can you do to make a difference? The first step is seeing it. Seeing is believing and belief leads us to action. We all long to be chosen. There’s a young man today who needs a word of encouragement and he is waiting on you. If not you, then who? Then when?

They didn’t see it. I didn’t know it.

LEAVE A COMMENTHave a mentoring success story? What’s your greatest joy in mentoring your son(s)? Like me, as a young man, do you wish you had a mentor to help you navigate the journey ahead? You can leave a comment by clicking here.