If you are following along in the print materials, this week's post and discussion questions are based on:
Chapter 10: Neither Gods nor Devils
Week Six - Clearing Our Vision
This week we are going to start working toward a healthy view of the men in our lives. For many women, men play a starring role in the drama of our insecurities. However it is important to realize that men are not without insecurities of their own.
Let me assure you, our study this week is not just for married women. All of us interact with men in one way or another. They are husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, neighbors, pastors, bosses, friends...
We all can benefit from an adjustment in how we view men.
In preparation for this study, Beth Moore also surveyed men about their insecurities. Here is what she found:
"Two areas of potential failure floated to the top among the responses. In uncontested first place: failure to provide.... The temptation [for men] to confuse who they are with what they make is astronomical. Add economic meltdowns, foreclosures, pay cuts, and layoffs to the landscape, and you've got yourself a serious breeding ground for insecurity. The thought occurred to me that the same culture that makes so many women feel inadequate physically, makes just as many men feel inadequate financially." (Chapter 10, pg 186-187)The other fear of failure named by the respondents is the failure to prove themselves as men. Beth goes on to explain the difference in mindset between men and women regarding "being" a man or woman. Women become women at a certain age. Men, on the other hand, are acknowledged as "real men" based on what they do, what they are able to prove about themselves. Manhood is earned, while womanhood is something we grow into. Unfortunately, men tend to look to their fathers for their recognition as a man, and in so many cases, this source is flawed at best or altogether absent.
This is an important step as we take a look at how men react from their insecurities:
"Overwhelmingly, the men used one word to describe what they do when they feel insecure: withdraw. If they don't overtly withdraw, they will probably behave in a way, either consciously or unconsciously, that will make their loved ones withdraw. One way or the other, a man who feels insecure will often force space..." (Chapter 10, pg 194)Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
So when men are insecure, they withdraw. When women are insecure, they cling. No wonder we have so many issues!
You may still be wondering exactly why we are studying men this week, but here is the thing:
"We often vacillate between adoring them and abhorring them, and neither extreme is healthy." (Group Experience, pg 61)Think about your own view of men. Do you tend to seek your fulfillment or happiness from them? Are all your hopes and dreams based on what they can do for you or give to you? Or is it the opposite and you carry disdain for them all because of some devastating relationships?
We live in a culture that encourages both perspectives. We paint pictures of prince charming, while vilifying men as disgusting, lazy creatures.
But we can see that beyond their imperfections (or seeming perfections), there is a human being with insecurities like us.
Thankfully, God sets the record straight:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus... Romans 3:21-24Used in Genesis, "man" means "mankind". Man and woman were both created by God, in His image, perfect. But now we see that all have sinned.
It's humbling to think about being fashioned by God's hands - we are equally unique and loved. At the same time, equally flawed. No other person, man or woman, deserves to be vilified or placed on a pedestal.
Do you feel like you haven't been seeing things clearly?
Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Mark 8:22-25I love how Beth Moore uses this passage about a physical healing that so beautifully illustrates the healing that can occur in our spiritual eyes. God wants us to see world as it truly is. But we cannot see it clearly if we are looking down and around us, at the mess and distractions.
Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up...
Our eyes belong on Christ above. Only then do we see everyone clearly.
I invite you to spend some time in the Scriptures listed below, as well as the discussion questions, so you can being to clear your vision...and refocus on Him.
Memorize: Hebrews 12:1-2
Reflect: Mark 8:22-25
1. Why do you think fear of failure (to provide, to be a proven man) tops the list of male insecurities? What pressures in our society feed these fears?
2. How does being aware of male insecurities give you insight to the men in your life?
3. Think about times when you would idealize men and consider them to be the solutions to all your problems. Think about times you have vilified men. How do these perspectives affect your relationships and sense of self-worth?
4. How has your perspective of men affected your relationship with God?
5. Read Ephesians 4:1-6. How are we supposed to interact with each other as believers?
6. Read Matthew 14:22-32. What does this passage illustrate about how our "focus" or "vision" can affect our fears? Can you think of a time when focusing on Christ helped you overcome fears?
7. Read Hebrews 12:1-2. How can this perspective change the way you view those around you?