This time of year can be very difficult. Many people are overwhelmed with shopping, travel plans, in-laws, financial strain, or some combination of unpleasant experiences. This happens right when we are expected to be thankful and hopeful of what the next year brings. That’s a difficult combination. Throw in grief, guilt, or frustration at unmet goals, and forget about it! A person can easily lose against the tides of being anxious or depressed.
In my work, I encounter many guys who are disempowered. A man can feel disempowered when he is denied authority, power, or hope over his own life. He is likely to lash out in 1-to-3 different ways: Retreat, Self-Destruct, or Destroy.
In order to break out of one of these boxes, a man must be empowered to imagine his own recovery—a life that is not constrained by past failures, past trauma, overwhelming grief or guilt about losing what once was.
My job is to help clients imagine that new existence. I do not help men REBUILD! I help them BUILD. They are not building something again; rather, they are building something anew.
Maybe you can’t go back and get that spouse that you lost, or those years that you sacrificed. Maybe your back won’t allow you to work how you used to work. Perhaps you can’t earn like you once did. Or, bridges were burned and people only remember you when you weren’t at your best. In each of these scenarios, and many more, we need the power of imagination to allow us to hope for a new, different reality. We can borrow from the hope that God offers. - Joel 2:25
I’ll give an example. A 48 year old man got injured and can’t work his trade anymore. He loses his income, insurance, and hope. He’s feeling pretty disempowered and is depressed and starts abusing alcohol. He loses hope and believes that the rest of his life will continue to be terrible. Now, he can give up, or he can allow himself the space to IMAGINE a different future for himself. He needs to be challenged to step outside of whichever way he is lashing out (retreat, self-destruct, destroy) and become empowered, one step at a time, so that he can see new options. Instead of give up 40+ years of his life, maybe he can monetize a hobby. He can learn a new skill. He can be a blessing to his parents and honor them as they get older through visits, service, and dignity. Imagination is not throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. It is about allowing the wonder and limitless hope that we once had as children to serve us as we deal with life’s setbacks and disappointments. It’s about allowing God to show us how he is at work, even in our most desperate situations. What is he teaching me? How can I pass this trial?
As 2018 closes, let us not lose hope for what our lives are and what they can become. You have purpose. You have worth. Your value is greater than financial provision. Your value is first and highest before Almighty God. Be found in him.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.