The Whiteboard of Freedom

Every Thursday morning from 6am to 7:30am, 20+ men gather from different parts of Grand Rapids and from different churches to find out about what it looks like to be free.  To experience a heart that is alive and a soul set free.

This group is loosely formed around Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, and over the past 3-4 weeks, we have been unpacking the ways we hide, and what/where we go to for validation.  As men, we all long for validation.  And because so many of our fathers did not know how to appropriately validate and affirm us, we will do just about anything to get it.  We will go to just about any lengths to obtain it.

This morning, the brave men of Go the Distance took the plunge.

On a white board, I asked them to list out every place they turn to get a little (or a lot of) validation.  We left no stone unturned.  Then, I asked them to state how going to those places makes them feel as a man.

After that, one of the guys said that we should circle every vice we turn to for validation, and that every man would circle as many that pertained to them.

When we were done, we had this glorious mess…

A whiteboard of confessed sins and struggles

Guys confessing Anger, Pride, Joking, Fantasy, Porn, Masturbation, Work, Women, Lust, Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs, Work, Spouse, Intellect, Food, Chewing Tobacco, Sarcasm, Church, Bible Study, Religion, Achievements, Success, Money, Laziness, Passivity, and a host of others.

When asked, “How do these things make you feel as a man?”  the following was shared:

Strong, Dominating, In Control, Proud, Validated, Part of something Epic/Transcendent, Accomplished, Special, Powerful, A Sense of Adventure and chance to Escape.

Hmm.  Very interesting.  All the things we turn to help us feel like a man is supposed to feel.  But, these less-than-eternal wells do not provide the lasting comfort that is needed to sustain these feelings, so we have to go back to the well to get filled…over and over and over again because it never satisfies.  Now we can see that this creates bondage…not just of the obvious, more “harmful” illicit choices, but over lesser things like food, work, checking email, hobbies, and the like.  These things make up our false selves.

There is only one source for a man’s true validation, and that is through the Father. This source is unending and ever-giving.

The reason we did this exercise was to help men see that 1) Every man has issues (pastors, doctors, lawyers, presidents of companies, you & me), and every man goes to things other than God for validation, and 2) You cannot find the true answer to your search for validation until you admit you have a false one.

After we had our large group discussion so we could air these issues out, we split up into groups of four.  In the safety of separate rooms, each man got very specific on what they run to for comfort, relief and validation.  This exposure of hidden-ness allows a man to get untangled from the web of deceit and lies that have haunted him in ways previously fully unknown to him or any friends.  It allows him to get real…in many cases get raw…so he can get free.
Some of the men in this group are very new.  Some have been meeting for four years.  These men are daring to see that there is more to their life than the pose they have created for themselves.  There is more to life than them trying to arrange for life on their terms.

Which kind of man are you?  Do you settle for “lesser” addictions like coffee and Diet Coke, because you view them has “harmless” compared to what you might think as more self-destructive habits like drug and alcohol abuse?
What if you could be truly free of all that?  Would you want it?


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