Masculinity and Disability

(Here is something that I’m working on, tell me what you think)

What do you think of when it comes to words such as masculine or masculine man? For some, it might be a man who is confident, strong in body and mind, can fix things in the home and on a car. And has the ability to fend off a violent attacker. This can be seen as the traditional man/ alpha male. For others a man might be more quiet and introspective, more in touch with their emotions and artistic and quite the opposite of the traditional-alpha male. In modern times, there is a war going on between the two stances. But do we ever stop and ponder, what manhood or masculinity looks like, in light of disabled men? This is a question that I’ve been wrestling with for quite some time now, both societally and religiously for the church. Now to be fair, there are those with cerebral palsy, who are healthy and active, can take care of themselves for the most part. The biggest obstacle for me then is the issue of driving, due to my startle reflex is not something I’ve overcome yet, the difficult part of the equation is it hinders me socially. And things such as uber can be pricey after a while. Forgetting about myself, I often think about the men in the world, who aren’t able to be as active as myself, have to depend a lot on the care of others, spend a lot of time at home and very rarely get out of their homes.

            Are they still not real men? Of course they are! These are men that are made in the image of God, and have immense value, dignity and purpose. The problem that I believe that these men, can very well be over looked by society and even the Church. While I do not believe that there is anything overtly malicious causing this, it grieves me non the less and I’m deeply convicted and convinced that this is an issue to brought to light and dealt with. Furthermore, if this issue grieves my soul, how must God feel about it? I believe that it grieves his heart, much more than it does mine. Most of the time, when pastors are talking about Godly men leading their families, more often than not they are speaking to able abled-bodied men. Teaching them to lead confidently and boldly, to provide for their families and pursuing the calling that God has placed on their lives. This is not wrong, and I affirm this absolutely. Yet very rarely do pastors think about what leading a family or pursing a God given calling might look life, if a men isn’t able to provide for his family, as he would desire in a physical sense. Have pastors ever really paused to consider the shame that this might leave in the soul of a man?

Everyday I talk to various men with different severities of disability, and each story echoes. Men of various ages and walks of life. Feeling that their lives are completely pointless, due to the context of their lives and being stuck at home more often than not. Moreover, they even endure the thought process of feeling worthy of love, be it by God himself or even a woman. In my daily conversations with men like myself, I make it a point to apply lessons that I have had to learn the hard way over the last few years of my life, that lead to a sense of masculinity in their own right. Though I still am in a similar context myself. The first element that I try to instill in my daily conversations with disabled men, is where their self of self and identity resides. Yes this is crucial in all men, but it is all the more important in the lives of some disabled men. It’s so important that disabled find and even lose themselves in the identity that God graciously bestows upon them. Whether they believe it or not. If not, disabled men will continually be stuck in the thought process of feeling like a burden to society and even their families. The next crucial element, after establishing a Christ centered identity is tapping into some sort of God giving calling. Whatever that may be, as I stated in the beginning, some men are more home bound, and have to depend a lot on the care of others and can’t really “work” in the sense that the world would like.

            So, we have to establish of purpose and mission even if it’s glorifying God every day. There’s more that can be added. But I’d like to end with these thoughts, is it frustrating that the church doesn’t speak to the reality of masculinity among disabled members of their congregations, very little/if any? Yes- it is, it is also sad to see that very few churches have ministries dedicated to even families with special needs children. However, rather than being stuck in the downward spiral of complaining, I have accepted the calling that I believe that God has placed inside me. Even if it’s not seen as significant in the worlds eyes. It’s my goal to write one of the first books on the matter, because no longer can these men go forgotten.

Hope in the face of the “Impossible” Dream

Have you ever had a dream inside you, that you wanted to come true so bad? Yet no how much you pray, try to improve yourself so that the dream can happen, it actually doesn’t.. This is exactly what I have been grappling a lot with lately with God.

One of the biggest dreams of my life, is to one day meet an awesome woman and be a husband and father. And yet at 36 (nearly 37) it doesn’t look like the father part is going to happen, at least in the organic sense of the word.

Sure in this world, I could meet someone, have a small ceremony and consider adopting. However, the desire wouldn’t simply go away. And with each year that passes in my life. The bigger the desire gets. At this stage in my life though, the reality of having children the organic way seems highly unlikely.

This probably is not helping my cause much, however I’ve read a lot about the reality that fertility rates for men these days are horrible. Even in men within my age bracket. That’s pretty terrifying if I may say so myself. Which has caused me to be hyper aware of everything I’m doing, should the reality even come close to happening.

Honestly, there’s a part of me that wishes that could maybe go back and be a few years younger. Maybe make a few better choices in life and maybe have a better shot at the dream. It grieves me to see the amount of people in society, that have chosen not to bring kids into the world. I understand why, largely because our world is a different place and it’s rougher to live in.

However, in my personal opinion, I believe that being a husband and father would such an amazing blessing. Easy? Hell no, and this is the other part that is equally perplexing for me. Is that there are people in my life telling me to do the opposite of what my heart longs.

To not get married

To not have kids

and to simply accept that the kind of woman that I’d like to find. Isn’t real.

You know what I say to all of that? Those are the experiences of other people- and not my own. Ok, yes I understand that the reality that I’m hoping for is not an easy one. It never is, but here’s the deal also. When you have have have your own shit under control, it doesn’t have to be that bad. I’m speaking more in the emotional/mental and spiritual sense.

All too often I see people go into a relationship or marriage and drag their pain and experiences right into it. Unchecked. And that’s the problem, and some people just don’t realize how broken they actual are until years into the journey. If ever..

In life we can unknowingly dump our experiences and conceived notions on people, without thinking about it. Thinking that our perspective is the next best thing to the gospel of Christ. It’s not.

I also realize that as a Christian, there lies inside me the greatest hope of all the world. Not simply in only the eternity sense. Though that is highly important and utterly amazing. But also that God is a God of miracle’s. Do those always happen? Nope they don’t, but what would it say about having faith, if my faith wasn’t actually in the one person that conquered the world for me?

God told Abraham that he would have a son, and while his wife chuckled at the idea.. He didn’t shrink in faith. Zechariah and his wife had son… Even when they thought they would never have one. He and his wife even dated. But it happened for them.

See the theme here? Hope- hope against all odds. Once again, does this then mean that my wildest dreams will come true? No, but as long as air is still flowing through my body. My hope will be in God. For my hope and confidence is not even in myself but in him.

Another blogger that I frequent, who just so happens to be an orthodox Christian. He says that “only God can bring you a wife.” It might seem silly to many, even though I’m a big advocate for self improvement and being the best version of ourselves possible. It’s all up to the king. And while it is all up to the king, I will by his grace walk with him through out the peaks an valleys.

I hope give up on hope. I won’t give up on the dream.

Woman jump over canyon

How To Be A High Value Person: With a Disability

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means, to be a person of “high value”, as it also relates to be a person with a disability. The term “high value” truly comes down to how you see and treat yourself. In truth, being assertive is something that has been a challenge for me my whole life. Sometimes the fear of speaking up about my belief on a given topic, causes me to fear the consequences. Either by offending someone or being viewed a certain way. Even in living with cerebral palsy, asking for things is tough because one does not want to feel like a burden. Maybe for you, it’s that and also how you see yourself. Perhaps you don’t take care of yourself as much, because on the inside you do not feel as though you are worth someone caring about. Whatever that may be, for any of us, here is a short list of things to become a person of a higher value.

One: you already are a person of high value because God has placed his image upon you. Which is the greatest blessing to ever be bestowed on human life.
Two: Take care of yourself, physically speaking: exercise in the way that you can, eat good foods that serve your body and not destroy it. And to a certain extent, present yourself with a good image.
Three: know your personal boundaries and do not allow to be crossed- by anyone.
Four: Guard your mind and heart, learn not to be over ran and dominated by every single though or emotion.
Five: Master your temptations, whatever they may be.

The One and A Million

I’m beginning to think I’m doomed..

Doomed? You ask?

Yes… Doomed

From what? You respond

Finding a woman, and not just any woman.

One who is genuinely happy, encouraging, warm, affectionate and at peace… And a practicing Christian. But here’s the thing though, does a woman like that even live on earth? A lot of men seem to think not. Recently, I was listening to Eliot Hulse talk about this very type of a woman and my first thought was.

“Yeah, that’s probably not even real, and if it is, it’s probably one out of million.”

But as I have sat with that thought, the question comes to mind: What if waiting for that one and million is worth it? What if, I keep seeking God, bettering myself and wait for God to bring us to each other? That honestly seems so glorious to me.

And I get it too, women are different- very different actually and some are more emotional than others. People have problems, I get it. Yet on a personal level, I’m tired of dating women, in which I’m in store for something different each day. Unsure of what I’ll get. To be fair, some men act like women too and are just as emotional and frankly unstable.

To that I say, you need to start getting your poop in a group and act like a the man that God mad you.

It’s worth the wait, I promise you. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, can you still be strong, happy and content?           

Rambling on Depression

Depression sucks, especially the kind of been experiencing the past three days. It’s like something dark, just came and busted out a lawn chair and began to relax while it indulged in it’s favorite beverage and snack. Then I think to myself, “Hey, I didn’t invite you here” Then this dark creature replies “oh, but you forget I show up every year.. When you least expect it.” That you do, but it doesn’t mean this depression is welcome.

So I’m going to express and share about what I’ve been feeling without giving power to loathing and deprecation of the self. Which I have been prone to do. However it will be a goal of mine within the new year to really fight against feeling sorry for myself and speaking negatively about myself. Depression is interesting in the sense that, it can feel your mind with lies that you know aren’t true. And yet, because its so heavy it feels true all the more.

The depression will say that I’m a fraud, no woman would ever want to be with me again, I’ve made to many mistakes and that my life is as good as it could possibly get. Meaning I’m stuck and life as I know it. Is over.

Again, I know it’s not true, but as I said the depression makes it seem all the more real and powerful. I’ve been on different medications for depression, and been to various counselors and I’ve had bad experiences with both. Medications only seemed to make feel worse, physically and mentally and most counselors I’ve seen have cooking cutter responses to my pain. So I said screw it both.

For me I believe that nutrition and fitness are big parts of fighting it, but you can do all that and still grapple with depression, however short the duration. For me, I’d rather have short durations, than to be where I once was, where I was having a couple panic attacks a week, puking before classes in college and so on.

This year hasn’t helped, though I’m thankful because here, in small Nebraska were not that restricted by Covid. But it doesn’t help, hearing about it every day, having a never ending political battle. Moreover, having cerebral palsy doesn’t help at all. It’s not like I can just leave the house whenever my heart desires. It’s also difficult when you don’t have any friends who can readily come pick you up or hang out with you because of their own circumstances.

Which is why I’ve tried a lot to be happy with myself and my own company, this is not just my battle but for many with cerebral palsy. Depression doesn’t make you weak, I just choose to lower my head and keep moving forward, to keep taking the shots. I’m not directly apposed to seeking help- I’m more open to talk therapy than anything. I’d only like to find a decent fit.

In the midst of the depression and the powerful blows that it deals myself and others, I’ve learn to channel a deep warrior strength inside me. One that knows that this darkness will pass, I’m learning to notice the pain and darkness within, and yet not be over ran by it. I’m learning to not let the depression over ride the duration of my day.

I still manage to workout, eat healthy, workout etc in spite of the depression that faces me. One might say that that’s not healthy. But to me, I say that that’s making war against the depression. It’s me fighting, going down swinging no matter what.

My greatest anchor through all of this is my relationship with God, prayer and reading my Bible. That’s what’s bigger than any darkness in my life.

A Letter To A Fellow Warrior

The following post, is a letter that I wrote to a dear friend of mine, who also has cerebral palsy. Though much worse than myself. Like a lot of men with CP, he feels alone and wrestles with the desires. The point behind this letter, was to remind me of who he was, despite the circumstances that he found himself in:

Brother,
Thank you for your message, it truly meant a lot to me, in a few ways. In one regard, your struggles are my struggles. Not being able to leave the house much, work, feeling alone. Those are all things that my heart connects with as well. And as mentioned to you before, the battle is sometimes hourly and daily. I connect tell you how many times the thought has surfaced in my mind:
Is any woman ever going to love me for me? I know that questions must echo loudly in your mind, as it does many others with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, regardless of gender. Now, myself having only dated a few women, sometimes things just aren’t what we think their meant to be. I’m in no way trying to give you a platitude, it’s just a cold hard reality of life that we men need to learn to accept. With every interest or relationship, the question speaks out from my inner life: is this person the one that’s going to stay? And when I say stay, it’s the until death do us part way.
The great CS Lewis, was only married to his wife for a short time, before losing his beloved wife to illness. The very death of his wife, appeared that there was enough weight behind it to crush the very soul of Lewis. Think about that for a bit, he must have felt intense despair, and felt utterly alone in the universe. He very well might have had so heated conversations with God himself. I say all this, to share with you, that no matter how long a woman or even dog is with us, they were never meant to complete. Never. And shame on us humans to even believe that another person might actually make us whole.
I’ve known you awhile my friend, and I know you are a good man with an amazing heart. A man that actual has purpose, talent and immense value. The question is my brother, do you know that in yourself? Do you know what the creator of the cosmos thinks and believes of you? Do you know how madly he loves you? Do you know that he calls you friend and beloved? These realities, though they are true for all who are in Christ. They are in (in a sense) even more important to men like us, men like us who physically can’t drive. Men, who are good hearted men, with good intentions, and would like to leave a dent in the world and because of the severity of your disability and because you a bit heavier on the care of others. It makes things all the more challenging and difficult. The average person, would rage against our situations, and yes it sucks a lot. But you and I, belong to the king of the universe first and foremost. His son Jesus, made us his own before the foundation of the world. That should matter more than anything.
The other reason your message stuck out to me, was that it reaffirmed in me another of a mission in life, and that is other men like us. There’s many like you and me, who wrestle with the same thing, who cannot readily go out and be the typical man that some women want. I feel as though, God wants me to be a kind of coach, that helps men like us discover Gods mad love, to secure in themselves, learn to navigate the inner emotions of life and discover purpose/mission in life. My prayer for men like us, is that we would be sure of our standing with God, that we would live a stoic life, where we are not needlessly emotional and are ravaged by desire and that we are dependent on no one to fill our emotional, mental and spiritual cups. To be okay with being alone. Simply because you have a severity of CP, that leaves you in need of more personal care. Does not make you less of a man. Let me say that again my friend, you are not less of a man.
God has made you man, my brother, and as such you are a warrior poet. Though your body may not be able to be physically strong. Your mind and soul can be like a mighty fortress. You can learn to armor up and fight off the enemies attacks. God has given you a mind, and a mouth, you may not be able to use your hands very well, but you are smart and as such you can use the tools that you do have. Rather than being caught up in what you don’t. I must preach these truths to myself as well, daily, weekly and even hourly. I write this letter to you to awaken the warrior within you. It’s there. God breathed that inside you. Scripture says that you are more valued than the sparrow, and if they trust that God will feed them, can you? I implore you my dear friend, to throw your being at the heart of God, seek first his kingdom and all other things will be added to you. Life is not over, it’s still beautiful get into the battle my brave friend, brother and warrior.

Don’t Wait Around (Small Relationship Advice)

I can remember being in junior high,

there was a girl,

her name was Molly.

Molly was cute, with brown hair and freckled skin.

Yours truly had a crush on her.

One day after school,

there she was at her locker…

So, something sprung up inside me “I should ask her out”.

And so I did.

And she told me, without even looking at me. “I have a boyfriend, but you’ll be the first to know.”

At first I was crushed, but when she said you’ll be the first to know there was a sense a hope. Maybe she would come around I thought.

But as time went on, nothing changed.

The lesson was, don’t allow yourself to be someone else back up plan. Have the fortitude and respect for yourself to know that you deserve better. And find someone that actually wants to be with you.

Its Ok To Be Alone

Todays message is simple.

Its okay to be alone.

I’m not going to die because I’m single at 35 still.

Neither are you.

Its okay.

Learn to be okay, just to be with you and your thoughts.

Figure out who you are.

Love yourself: in the sense that you can be happy within yourself and not constantly need someone to validate you.

It’s not wrong for someone to add to your journey, but it was a never another souls job to save you from yourself.

Be alone.

Get to know yourself,

Be satisfied with you.

Be at peace with the past

and dare to dream of a brighter future.

Being Healthy To Attract Healthy.

I woke up this morning with this question at the forefront of my attention:

Why Do I keep attracting the same kind of woman into my life?

It’s an honest question, and a life changing one at that. The same can be asked if you are a woman that just so happens to be reading this. You could easily ask yourself why you keep bringing the same kind of men into your life. Several years, an old friend of mine and myself, were having a beer after a bible study. Just the way I like it- beer and bible. Or bible and beer , however you want to say it.

Anyway, my friend asked me a very bold question, that actually pissed me off greatly in the moment. He asked Brandon, why do you keep attracting the same woman into your life over and over again? As first I was so blindsided and confused by the question, I took another sip of my beer, set it down still holding it and asked: what are you getting at? He looked at me and said:

“Bro, you keep attracting all these women that have all sorts of problems, their not actually healthy for you.” Again I felt anger rise within me, I looked at my friend and said “bro, doesn’t everyone have problems and baggage? “ Well yes he replied, but maybe you could find someone that had a lot less problems and was on a healthy path in life.”

I can understand if you’re offended after reading that, after all I was too. But do you know why I was so offended? Because my friend was right, and he was willing to offend me in the name of me seeing truth.  With my last few relationship’s, they have either had commitment issues or were honestly unstable in some ways. I don’t mean this to come across in a degrading way, I only want to communicate truth. And to be fair, some of the past women I’ve dated could say a thing or two about me.

And  yet, when I truly began to ponder this question, I only could look back at myself. Because taking ownership of our lives, starts with the self. Realizing our pit falls and where we can improve. I began to see that it some way or another, I was attracting what already existed inside of me. I had a lot of inward battles going on, mental struggles and so on. And so naturally when you’re not as a healthy as you ought to be, you migrate to what is most comfortable to you.

On another level, there lies a savior complex where I  want to help others with their problems and become more whole and happier. The only problem with that is, is that we can hope to “fix” someone to the point of forgetting to fix ourselves. That is the most unhealthy of options, it’s as they said proverbs, like a dog that returns to his vomit.

If I desire to be a healthy person, I also believe that you want to be healthy person as well. What does healthy actually look like? For me,  it means being less hindered by the past, dwelling on it less and less and leaving it where it belongs. This is something that I have to continually work on, though I’m not as bad as I once was. It always means having better control over my mental health and even emotions, in my own life I have been of anti-anxiety and depression meds for a long time. I’ve been learning to get a handle on my anxiety and or depression by getting down to the root cause. Moreover, I am learning to pray, and lay all my fears, worries and insecurities at the feet of God. This is not to say that I’m somehow arrived at the end of my progress, no in fact I have a long way to go. But I am nowhere near who I once used to be. That to me is a healthy person, one that’s moving towards who they were meant to be. And in terms of having another relationships, in the long term sense. I want someone who is at peace with herself in her own skin, isn’t attacked by insecurity or triggered by the little things.

I want someone that can handle their emotions, now I’m sure that your thinking “That’s not possible!” All I’m saying is that, I want to be with someone that even though their having a bad day. They can still vent about their day, and I can be there to listen and give my thoughts if needed and snuggle up after. Is that a lot to ask for?

Obviously, I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I’m not going to settle either. I’m going to keep working on myself and for once in my life I’m going to allow myself to be picky. You do the same, work on yourself. Improve yourself. This way the cycle can be broken and we can actually discover what healthy actually is.   

Misplaced Love

Here’s the deal. No man or woman can fulfill us. I know it sucks to hear, but love delights in truth. For me, I know that this hard truth needed to be beat into my entire person all over again. Is it wrong to want a relationship? And a healthy one at? Of course not, God created us for that.

In my prior blog entry, I spoke about my frustration with the current standing of the so called “Alpha Males”. The more I listened and read to what many of them had to say, I quickly noticed that many of them were simple pick up artists. And sadly I found myself buying into this crap.

I then wanted to go out and see how many women I could pick up, by saying all the right things etc. And then it hit me… Wow that’s really, really shallow and frankly cheap. Because all the cheap thrill really leads to nothing of substance.

I don’t think there is anything wrong to long for someone be with, to long for healthy communication affection, marriage and so on. But as a follower of Christ, I/we should know that no one could possibly love us as madly as Christ does.

I also confess, that at times I have driven myself crazy trying to find a mate. Which again, isn’t wrong. But it is wrong to lose yourself in it. Without looking more at the one that loves us the most. Which is Jesus Christ.

Our love in turn becomes misplaced, we take the love from a person and put above the love of God. Which in many ways can cripple the mind and soul. Scripture tells us to seek first his kingdom, this really just means to seek God first. Let him fill us up first.

Now, I don’t believe that because we seek God first, that it then means a mate will fall into our laps or living room couches. I still think that we ought to keep our hearts, eyes and minds open. The same way that if we our hungry, we have the ability to get up and go get food.

When we seek first his kingdom, we re-order our hearts, our thinking is clearer, we are more at peace and we are more ready to love as Christ loves us. So, today if you find yourself in the same boat as me. I implore you to seek God boldly and confidently without condemnation. As him to reorder your heart. And he will. Its so worth it!