The Power of Jiujitsu Against Depression

            My intent for this post is to get members of the jiujitsu community, to see beyond the surface of jiujitsu. Beyond the belts, the shiny gold medals and even all the latest trends. To see the people around you and how the art can truly help others cope and even heal mental illness.

It would seem as though, I’ve had a grappling match with depression most of my life. Even as a kid, I’d go from smiling to having a wave of sadness wash over me. Of course living withcerebral palsy brings it’s own battles. Knowing that you’re not like everyone else in the world. Knowing where you belong in the world is as equally daunting. Truth be told, I’ve always felt like a misfit.

As a child, I went through a handful of surgeries, each requiring months to recover, taking me out of school and away from friends is in some ways worse than the physical pain. My one saving grace as a kid was learning how to grapple. It was my escape from even knowing I had CP, it was an escape from my mind and so much more.

Learning to grapple made me feel as though, I was alive and that this could all lead to a greater purpose. I’ve been a martial arts instructor since the age of sixteen, teaching very styles, disciplines and people from all walks of life. I love the arts. But the one art I love the most is jiujitsu.

I truly believe that it can change people’s lives for the better,  students and professors have the ability to use the gift of jiujitsu to change people’s lives for the better. The way some other arts cannot. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Rickson Gracie once said that sometimes as a teacher, you are sometimes a psychologist as well. In that sometimes you have to teach others to be calm, control their emotions and transcend the challenges of their lives.

As many may know, speaking up about depression or any challenge can take a lot of courage. It’s often what we are most willing to speak about that gives us healing and hope. Most of the time, my team mates see me with a smile on my face, sometimes the smile is real, but sometimes the smile is a means to hide the pain.

I smile and don’t let anyone see the fight going on inside me. Which is daily. But once I feel my GI and belt wrap around me. I know everything will be okay. For me, I love the human contact of Jiujitsu. Which I don’t get much of. I know that either when I’m learning a new technique or rolling with friends. The pain and sadness will leave me. Then- I can breath and feel that everything is right in the world.

Jiujitsu has taught me to breath. To breathe through the heaviness  of depression and even anxiety. To move and make space even when I am feeling smothered by life. There’s always a way out of a tough position.

My hope is that members of the jiujitsu community will look deeper into jiujitsu, and see the healing properties that it possesses. It’s not about the pursuit of gold medals, the stripes on your belt or how many cool techniques you can do. It’s about the people around you. Open your eyes, pay attention to your team mates, check in with the people around you. If you know someone is struggling, and you don’t know the words. Offer them your silence, your listening ear. Keep them rolling and moving forward in the journey. Am I completely free from the weight of my own depression? No, I am not. But Jujitsu has offered a healing, and am community that I have never had. And quite frankly, it is better than any medicine a doctor could offer me.

Remember, we are a community that exists to make each other better. Jiujitsu exists, not so much for the sake of violence. But to reveal the greatness that lives inside us all.      

The “How” of Suffering

Throughout history, many people, poets, pastors, theologians and even philosophers have tried to do the best that they can to make sense of suffering within the human experience. After all suffering has been with us since the beginning of time and human existence. Even though, I myself have much first hand experience with suffering, there is something inside me that hesitates. Probably because so many other thoughts of wisdom and hope have already been uttered.

Yet, I believe that holy spirit is softly whispering from within, saying “share what I have placed inside you.” So when the holy spirit commands, the obedient son or daughter must follow. One of the most frequent objections to the existence of God or any other divine figure has been the reality of suffering. Cancer, AIDS, rape, murder and suffering in all other forms all stop us in our tracks.

Why would any sort of higher power even allow suffering? That’s a very good question that we all have asked regardless of creed or background. Cerebral Palsy, was the cross I was given when I was born. If you want a full breakdown of my story, you can check out my first book The Emotional Struggle on Amazon.

With having cerebral palsy, my life has been tested with not just physical pain from surgeries and therapy. But emotional and mental pain as well. I’ve had the entire lower half of my body operated on, each other operation taking a year or more to recover from. Doctors and professionals with the realm of education, telling me that I wouldn’t amount to much because I wasn’t smart enough.

To add more to the equation, throughout my 36 of life, there have been battles against depression, anxiety and there was once an attempted suicide. Why? Because I felt so trapped in my own life circumstances, as though nothing could or would ever change. Others in the world have faced suffering far greater than even my own.

Nowhere in my life was I ever starved to death, or tortured by evil and wicked people. Which is another reason why there was a hesitation inside me to share in the first place. And yet the starkest of realities is that some of us never make it out of suffering. Not so much in the reality of suicide, but that some of us never find a way to prevail in spite of it. Some make the choice to let the weight of suffering swallow them up like a tidal wave. As mentioned above, many of us ask of the why of suffering.

The why is important, but dare I suggest that the why is not as important as the how. How are we not going to let suffering swallow us up? How are we going to come out the suffering more brighter and courageous? I will caution you (the reader) in that, if you decide to ask the how. You must also decide to follow through with whatever the how asks of you.

For example, if you discover that your how, is being able to look at years of trauma or destructive habits. Are you willing to face it all? Are you willing to endure the process of what it takes to heal and start new chapters of your life? The consequence of not doing so, means that everything in your life stays the same.

And in choosing to stay in that reality, also then means that you’re fundamentally making a choice to cling to that suffering. Reasons for that might very well be, that it’s all you know. On the other hand, some of us are far too stubborn (such as myself) and know what we should do and end up not do it. Regardless, we both are making a choice.

In processing and embarking on our how, we first need a new perspective on suffering. That may raise some eyebrows, but it’s the only option we have. We can agree that suffering sucks, it hurts and can beat the will out of us. But if we slowly started looking at the suffering in our lives differently, we might very well find that there is more to live for.

The author of the book of James in the Bible, he says to “count it all joy” when trials come our way. As humans, we scoff and even are appalled by such statements. Because there is nothing joyful about suffering on the surface. But as the author continues by saying

“for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James says, in other words that suffering we endure, produces something in that. That something is steadfastness. Meaning that we are anchored in something greater than ourselves. We admit that suffering is awful but we are not destroyed by it. When the grace of God allows to become more steadfast with time, we can find that a sense of calmness fills us up. Where we don’t always have to fly off the handle because life is not going how we want it.

This true peace and steadfastness is in divine, because one could not find it anywhere else. As much as I love stoic philosophy and philosophy in general. It does not lead to true peace. In my own life, I have surveyed every world religion and even tried meditation and even believed that I would come back in my next life as some other person. The biggest problem with that rests in the reality that, you can never know if you have done enough good to outweigh the bad. 

Biblical writes like James and Paul, their how is Christ himself. Christ for them, is the how to transcending the suffering and not simply running from it. But rather they can stare that suffering in the eye knowing it won’t win in the end. For James and Paul, they know that something far sweeter is at the end of suffering.

So that patiently and even joyfully endure, while living out the mission that God has set before them. Let us not forget Christ himself, Christ was sent by God the father in human likeness. In the Philippians 2:7, it says that Christ “emptied himself” interesting, what on earth might that mean? To empty comes from the Greek word Kenosis, Tony Evans has a very clear and beautiful way of explaining this, when he writes:

What does the self-emptying of Christ mean? The theological doctrine is called the kenosis, from the Greek verb meaning “to empty.” Did He empty Himself of His deity and become merely a man? No, the focus of His self-emptying is not heaven, but earth; that is, what Christ emptied Himself into.
He didn’t empty out God and pour in man. Rather, He emptied all of God into man. In other words, He didn’t stop being God. He didn’t say, “Deity, I’m going to leave You in heaven and go down to become humanity.”
Furthermore he writes: What Jesus did was take all of His deity and pour it into humanity so that He became much more than mere man. He became the God-man-God poured into man.
Let me tell you something impor¬tant. When Jesus Christ did something about your sin and mine, He didn’t give us the leftovers. He poured all that made Him God into man so that man would have all of God. There is nothing that belonged to God that man didn’t have when Jesus emptied Himself into man.

One of the reasons that Christ came to live among us, I believe, was to show us humans that he is the answer to the human condition and suffering. Even when on the cross, Christ took all our suffering on himself. Moreover, the cross shows that even in spite of suffering still present. The cross still shows that Christ is present with us. I don’t believe I’ll ever understand why God chooses to heal some but not others, but I do believe that he has given me the greatest gift ever, himself, his love, his presence and grace. What is more amazing, is that eternity with Christ, means no more suffering and complete joy.

Until then, Christ is my how in my own journey. He is why I can give all my fear and anxiety, and instead breath in his peace. He is why I can have joy and smile in the midst of life not being as desired.    

Combating The “Hijacker”

In college an area of psychology that truly intrigued me was the area of addiction, mainly how addiction rewires the human brain and changes the way human behave. I’m pretty sure what stopped me from fully pursuing the route was the amount of schooling and debt that I’d rack up at the end of all. Still, however, the area still fascinates to this day. And something that came to my attention recently was the idea “hijacker”.

That is, in simple terms it’s very much like a voice in the human brain that tells us it’s okay to go back to the things that give us comfort. It doesn’t have to be things as extreme as drugs or pornography. But it can be things as simple as food, spending money on things you don’t need, binge watching a show and so on.

The “hijacker” is the voice that says “it’s okay, go back to whatever substance it is, you’ll feel better after.” And that’s the lie, you might feel better after. But your still stuck in the same old destructive cycle. Still filled with shame, regret and feeling hopeless…

And yet we are not hopeless. Recently I heard a therapist say that the hijacker isn’t you talking. The Hijacker is the one you can feel starting to raise its voice in the certain contexts that make us want to run back to fake comfort.  The apostle Paul had an extremely similar thought process in Romans 7:14-15 when he said:

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

Paul understood that this wasn’t necessarily him, but something else trying to take over. And that’s the key to winning the battle. We have to start to be on watch, so when it does lurk its head up. We can notice it and quickly shut it down.

You can heal. You can overcome. But  it won’t be own your own or on your own strength.

Brief Thoughts on Romans 8:28

The other day I wrote that my hearts prayer was Romans 8:28, which says:

28 And we know that [a]God [b]causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Admittedly, in college I found this to be the most annoying passage because almost every one would quote it in times of hardship and suffering. When it comes to walking with others in human suffering, some times Christians can absolutely suck at comforting others. Rather than offering compassion and silence, we often rattle off a verse or two, in hopes that it brings hope in some ways.

Most times it doesn’t do anything. Often, when we suffer, our hearts and minds are too hard and guarded to hear anything. And it isn’t until we get further away from the suffering that we begin to see hope, truth and resolution to the problem.   

The thorn in my flesh has been depression mostly, and wondering what God is doing in the circumstances of my life. It becomes very easy to doubt his goodness and kindness toward me. It hit me the other day, that the good that the apostle Paul speaks of in this passage is in one sense- eternity.

What this means practically speaking, is that any thorn in my side, any sort of illness will all be no more when we are finally with Christ. Nothing happens in our lives without the Lords say so. This means that he can allow the greatest of suffering in our lives, if it means having a deeper relationship with him.

In another sense, the good that Paul speaks of is also character development. Are we becoming more like Christ on a daily basis? Are we walking in obedience with his word? Are you becoming more refined and stable in mind and will? The providence of God is so stunning and amazing- you can trust him. In any season of your life.     

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Thoughts on Trauma Part 1: Healing first

The other night there was a lot of reflection being done, there I was sipping my whiskey. Depression set in mildly during the day, so that probably didn’t help. But in my reflection, the concept of trauma surfaced to my attention.   Trauma (in various compacities) is something that many of us deal with. I’m no stranger to trauma, as having cerebral palsy and all the pain that I’ve had to endure because of it, has left it’s finger prints on me. My first operation, I can remember being brought back to the pre-op room, there my parents had to leave to go to the waiting area.

What honestly went through my mind as a child, was that I was being abandoned.  Sure, that fear and panic produced an irrational fear. But the point is these moments in my childhood, had a great effect on most of my life. As mentioned before, a lot of us have our own trauma. Some more severe than others. What that should do then, is that should give humans grounds to show empathy and connect with one another. Healing comes in simple form when we can say the words “Me Too” to quote Rob Bell from his book Velvet Elvis. When we are willing to be vulnerable, that is when I believe God truly begins to heal us. The most profound lesson that I’ve ever had the privilege of learning, is that we cannot heal on our own.    

We need to confess that we have a problem, that we cannot conquer it on our own, and that we need God to work in us by his grace and community to walk along side us. Even those of us who try and white knuckle our way towards healing eventually get burnt out by trying so hard. Of course, this takes a lot of humility, gumption and inner bravery to admit any of this. Again, people wear masks (no pun intended), we try and appear as though we don’t need help and do things on our own. And while a fair amount of self-sufficiency is great, no man- woman is an island to themselves.    

 It took me such a long time to face my own trauma in my life, more often than not when I thought I was making progress, the fear and panic only seemed to get louder as time went on. Confusion set in , and the thought came to my mind “why am I not getting any better?”  

“Why am I still so afraid?” And the answer, for me anyhow, was that I was still looking to people to save me from my trauma, to save me from myself. Well  meaning people can help and provide wisdom and some comfort. But only God can heal us and give us the peace we crave. So, in this moment, I deeply want to you to know that God loves your more than any other person on earth could. You are not so far down the road, that you are out of his reach. It’s ok to admit you need help, not only from God but from others. You have purpose to complete with your life, and someone else can benefit from your own story. Go fourth today, knowing that the past doesn’t define who you are.

   

The Disabled Man- And Manhood

I think that one aspect of manhood (that I am very passionate about) that isn’t talked about much at all. Is the reality of manhood and disability. Over the last several months I’ve seen all kinds of videos on how  to be more of an alpha male and so on. Most of these videos are geared toward abled-bodied men, who can walk, drive and have a very different set of life circumstances than a man with cerebral palsy. Now, this is difficult for me to write, because I confess that I’m not where I want to be in life. I’m thirty-five, almost  thirty-six and I still live in my parents’ house, don’t drive  and don’t work your typical job. As I’ve spent the last several lives trying to live the entrepreneur life, and for the most part I’ve done well for myself. There’s just these two areas of my life, that I have yet to break through in. Sometimes though, this makes me feel like less of a man or less than I could be. Even though, functionally speaking I have a ton to offer. It can be difficult though, simply because some people can’t see past the physical circumstances of ones life. The last woman I dated I can remember her being a bit hesitant early on, because she thought about what it would be like eventually introducing me to her friends. Which really sucks that that is even a reality, but I have to think, how many other men like me are there in the world that feel as I do. Who can sometimes feel like less of a man because they are physically different or have different life circumstances? It’s very numbing to the mind and heart. What happens then, is we stop taking chances in life because of the thoughtful reality that we might never find the physical acceptance that we desire.

What I’ve come to realize though, is that I-we- you still have divine worth regardless of whether or not a person accepts us for who we are or not. And its hardly a reflection on us as it is the other person. Simply because one is not where they want to be either, doesn’t mean that you won’t get there either. It may take someone a longer period of time, but it is still possible. Some people in life are late bloomers, but they still bloom. And I think that is something that needs to be more appreciated in life.   And I think that’s largely because our society wants everything right now.

Growing up my father raised me in the martial arts, which only helped me become a masculine man and warrior. He let me fall, get bumps and bruises. He always told me to stick out my chest when I stood up. And I think that that’s what I want for others like myself, to be strong in every way. Some  may not be able to physically fight like I can. But they can learn to protect their minds and hearts of those they love. I believe that regardless of whether a man is in wheel chair, he should be healthy and fit in as much as he can. Along with cleaning up the nutrition portion of life. I think a man should know how to control his thoughts and emotions. I think a man, should rid himself of the victim mentality. Also, men should learn to control their own lusts-in more ways than one. I think that men need to figure out who they are, what they do and do not want in life. I want to teach men like me to be strong and courageous, even in spite of having different abilities and life circumstances than the next guy. Disabled men truly need this, because lets face it too much life has passed and I haven’t seen anything done about this silent crisis. I believe I’m just the guy to do it.       

Talking About Faith and Mental Health-again.

I’ve written on the subject on faith and anxiety before, but after my morning conversation with my girlfriend. It spurred me to want to write some more on the topic, as this is not a topic that can have a once and for all response. I’ll say it again, I have never appreciated how many Christians have handled the areas of mental health within the faith community.

Just pray more.

Have more faith.

Yes and yes..

But it’s not always that clean cut.

While it is true that people that live with anxiety or depression, should interact in their faith more with prayer and trust in God (if one is a Christian). That does not mean that all of our days with, anxiety, fear and worry are all over. They may get better, as we learn how to cast all our cares upon Christ- because he cares for us (1 peter 5:7), and learning different coping skills. Again, it simply does not mean that we will no longer have anxiety come up again in our lives.

When it does though, we will know how to defend against it, so it does not crush us. The biggest mystery through out my own faith journey, is while God chooses to heal some and not others. I am sure that there are some in which God has chosen to heal of anxiety, and others he has chosen not to.

And while this can be seen as a deterrent to faith, I choose to believe that there is sufficient reason for such thorns to remain. Simply because a fellow Christian still walks with anxiety and worry, does not always equate to a lack of faith or trust. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of our own mental health. But because our Lord is good, he always brings us back to the truth of himself.

And when we say to someone, “oh just pray and trust God more” we’re unknowingly making it about our strength and not God. As though we have to pray to drive our anxiety away, as though we have to muster up the strength to trust more. When it is God who spurs us to pray and gives us the ability to come our senses and trust him in the first place.

Sometimes what we say as Christians, in the context of mental health and faith is frankly unbiblical and even dangerous. If I went to a biblical counselor, I would hope and pray that they gave me a bit more than simply to learn to pray and trust more. I would hope that they would offer a listening ear, some compassion and empathy.

Christ told us that life would be full of hard times, but that he has overcome the world. -John 16:33, my faith tells me that Christ has already overcome all the darkness in the world, and with that, I know that all anxiety will be cast into the darkest parts of the earth. If you are one living with anxiety, big or small.

Jesus is not repelled by the anxiety that faces you, his arms are open to you. He loves you madly, his death, burial and resurrection say so. It is because of this, that we can cast all our cares upon him, along with our deepest trust.

My worst nightmare. What it taught me.

Life is pain, hardship, agony, frustration and many other words that we all could insert into the equation. All of the major world religions agree that life is suffering. Yes, it may seem very bleak. But I can assure you, it isn’t. Life is all of those things for me too. I was born at an extremely low birth weight, had brain damage to the center ventricle of my brain and thus was born with a condition called Cerebral Palsy (CP). To add to all of that, I have endured a handful of surgeries, all of which have taken me a year or more to heal and recover from. Oh, and add mental health issues to the list. I’m sure most would shake their heads and think Wow, I don’t know how you do it!
That’s the thing though, apart from divine intervention, I don’t know how I do it either! Being completely honest, there are days where I want to throw in the towel of my life and not continue the fight any longer. I’ve been to the point in my life, where I in fact have tried to take my own life. But what stops me from doing it? Fear of the hereafter. No, I am not here to debate religion or anything of the sort. The other night though, I had the worst night mare that I’ve ever had in my 34 years of life. I dreamt that I had written an email of all things, to my family, saying that I loved them all very much. But I just couldn’t do life anymore. The nightmare then switched to me being alive in a black hole, doing everything I could to get out knowing that I had made the wrong choice.
I jolted out of my sleep, which woke my girlfriend from her sleep. She instantly put her arms around me and I began to sob violently. I knew that in that moment, that suicide is never the answer. I wept bitterly, because of the deep revelation that if I had gone through with it. I would never know what the rest of my life held for me. I clinched my girlfriend tighter and told her how much I loved her, and that no matter how hard life got, that life isn’t something that we should quit at. I strongly believe that it is my mission, to speak hope to you, the reader.
I want you, to maybe for the first time in your life, tap into the dreams that exist inside you. Whatever that may be. It can be a simple as wanting to be a healthier and fitter person. Work towards it, drink more water, say no to sugar and processed foods. It could be starting the company you always wanted to start, but didn’t because you listened more to the fear and doubt that pounds inside your soul. It could even be the desire to be a better person, what are the steps that you are going to take in order to do that? While our hearts still beat, we still have time to sharpen the ax. But it takes time, dedication and discipline. Life is but a vapor, so at the risk of sounding utterly cliché. I implore you to not hide from the pain that you may have inside you, feel it. Embrace it and let it out. Deal with it, give it a voice, because if you don’t, things are going to get way worse. Suffering in silence is something that no one should have to do. Once you let all the pain out, allow the dreams and desires that you have held down to come to the surface and live from that. Live with hope and purpose. Learn to love more deeply, and let go of the things that no longer serve you. Let go of anger, regret, let go of self- hatred, let go of the endless cycle of doubt that keeps you from moving forward to the person that you see yourself becoming. Rather, allow compassion, self-love and forgiveness to enter your life. Allow a new journey to unfold in your life, discover things about yourself you never knew. Find strength and wisdom you never knew you had, allow empathy and understanding to take place in your life, allow yourself, the opportunity to armor up against the lies your mind tells you every day. And allow yourself the time to develop good boundaries with people who might have your best interest in mind.
No, none of this easy, in fact much of this is very difficult, but life is such a beautiful blessing. One that is to short not to pour out all we are every single day. Speak your pain into reality, heal and recover, but then go fourth forging a new fire and zeal for your life. You owe it to yourself and others to do so!

The Key To Paradise

I believe that one of the “hard” things of the Christian faith, is that if we are not careful things can become lost in translation. We can read the same things over and over in our bibles, without having what we read move us or change us. I’m no different, I struggle to pray as I should, and though my bible reading is disciplined. It can seem very robotic, as though I only do things out of “religious duty”

We all know the story when Christ is on the cross, with two people on each side of him. If you don’t know of it, I encourage you to read Luke 23:26-44. Again, I have read this passage quite a bit over the span of my faith journey, and it sadly doesn’t move me sometimes or nothing jumps out at me. The story kept coming to memory, so I opened my bible with the thought in my mind

“Okay Lord, what are you saying to me?”

As I was reading, it came to my attention that there were two different types of hearts: On one hand, there is the heart of stone, the first criminal almost has a mocking tone of voice and posture of heart. “Your Jesus right? So why not get yourself off this piece of wood and save us!?” (My translation). If I’m not careful, this can be me too, I can have a horrible attitude about my life and faith as well. In which case, I have to bring myself in Gods presence, seek forgiveness for my hard heart and allow him to soften my heart over again.

I love the words of Ezekiel 36:26:

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[a] and give you a heart of flesh.

In my observation, this is what happens to the second man hanging beside Jesus, something happens inside of his own heart to invoke a different response. He says “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same condemnation ? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom .” And he (Jesus) said to him “Truly, I say to you. today you will be with me in paradise.”

Again, I’ve read this before, this really isn’t anything new to me per say, but what I noticed, is that there is so much going on between the second man and Jesus. I don’t know much at all about this mans life, his past or anything. But I think it’s safe to assume, that he knew deep down he made a mess of his life, wasn’t proud of himself at all and knew that there wasn’t much at all that he could do to merit the grace of God.

I believe that that is the best place a person can be, because when we are to proud, full of pride then there really is no way we can see the grace of God, can we? No we can’t. And our hearts cannot ever really soften, unless the spirit of God breaks through with a holy sledge hammer.

The way Christ responds to this man, completely blows my mind, Jesus doesn’t lead this man in a prayer, tells him to repent or anything of the sort. The man only cries out from his heart, which is in a way a form of repentance and asking for forgiveness. And Christ accepts him willfully. The man knows, that if he is to enter paradise with Christ, it has everything to do with the goodness of Christ and zero to do with himself.

This, my friends, should set us free! Why? Because it’s no longer about us, we know longer have to slave and white knuckle our way into Christs love. We can rest in the grace and mercy of Christ, and breath with great joy because it’s all about the finished work of Christ for us.

Trust me, if you feel like God is done with you, or wants nothing to do with you, you’re mistaken. He just wants you. All of you. While you are still alive, there is still time to know the grace and goodness of God. All you have to do is cry out to him.

Manhood and Disability Part 1

I’ve never been one to feel sorry for myself, going after things I want has always been part of what made me who I am. It was ingrained in me by my parents, to not let anything stop me and not take no as an answer.

As a child, I felt as though nothing could touch me or wound me. But as you get a little older in life, you suddenly discover that you aren’t invisible as you once thought. You find that the world isn’t as nice as you once thought, and not everyone will give you a chance or think that you will ever amount too much.

Some where along the way, we lose that since of healthy confidence in our selves, and we allow other voices to influence us. There have been quite a bit of times in my life, where I have felt like less of a man, because I can’t drive or do all the typical things that a man is supposed to do.

Never learned to change a light bulb, change the oil in a car none of the typical things that a man is called to do. Growing up, my mom beat into my mind that the man does everything, provides for the woman, so on a so forth. Now I know that some might insert right away, that there is a very old traditional view. And to a degree I would acknowledge that disagreement.

But I do think, that to a a degree a man is supposed to be a warrior poet, much like William Wallace. One who knows how to capture a women’s heart. And vend off evil man if they ever had to. Inwardly and in the back of my mind, I have always felt like I am that.

The deeper reality is though, there a days and moments when I don’t feel like a measure up at all. That is why, my heart often goes out in a deep way to young boys/men with cerebral palsy. Who like me, don’t feel like they measure up, or never be seen as a real man.

In mays I am blessed to have a very mild form of CP, I can do a lot of things for myself. But what about those young men, or fully grown men, that don’t feel like a women could ever love them? Those of us, who is not what the worlds deems to be a man? It’s very easy to turn inward into shame, regret, isolation and even blame shifting.

So my hope, is to speak into that darkness and bring about some hope, bravery and encouragement.

YOU ARE A MAN.

Regardless of what severity of cerebral palsy or other physical condition you may have. You are a man, endowed in the holy image of God. An author who I once frequented, wrote that:

IF you have a penis, you have what it takes to get the job done.. You may not be able to do any sort of physical task, involving a car, kitchen or whatever. But that doesn’t mean, that you couldn’t make the simple phone call to get it fixed.

You  might not be able to spin your wife or girlfriend in circles, or even cook for them.  But you can love and protect them mentally, emotionally and spirituality. So much of my life I was blind to this reality, because I was so fixated on the physical.

When there is so much more to it, than physical aspects. I didn’t think that I would ever meet a women that loved me, until I met my girlfriend. I wasn’t finding relationships that worked out. And the more that happened the more alone I felt.

This only pushed me to cling to God more, finding peace in his love and being made in his image. Which is where all my worth and dignity as a human stems from. When I met my girlfriend, I was so shocked and overjoyed, because  I never thought I’d find another human that loved me in all the ways my heart desired.

I was blown away that even doubted Gods goodness and ability.

I do all I can to help my girlfriend when we are together, but the reality is, is that we have learned to take turns helping each other. There are times, in this current season of our relationship. Where I can’t help her with every little thing, and sometimes the greatest thing I can offer her is encouragement, love and my support.

I believe that us men, buy into the lie that we have nothing to offer, that we have no purpose and that we are not worthy of love. It’s all a lie that we accept when the depression sets in.

But the truth is, is that you have much to offer, you have purpose and you are worthy of love. It’s all abut finding out who you are, what makes you come alive and being comfortable in your own skin.

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