Keith Kariniemi | The Voice of Zion June 2019 --
God made men and women different. One of the ways these differences may be apparent is in the way they communicate about personal matters. Although we tend to think stereotypically concerning such communication differences – women being open and willing to share and men being reluctant to share – this is not always or entirely true. Men and women both need friends they can rely on to communicate with about personal matters; each individual goes about it in different ways.
As a man and a father, I have experienced many times in my life how I have had to lean on good friends to communicate personal matters. Whether this has happened over a cup of coffee, a sheet of ice, a hot sauna stove or just plain visiting, these moments of communication are necessary. The conversations have included matters of faith and the journey, and I’ve been strengthened and uplifted in visiting about these important matters. I’ve also found great benefit in visiting with my friends concerning other personal aspects of life, such as my role as a husband and as a father.
A Meaningful, Spontaneous Visit
A visit that comes to mind is one I had with a dear friend the night before I got married. As I find to be the case with many meaningful visits I’ve had with friends, it was a spontaneous conversation. We were walking to our vehicles after a gathering with a number of mutual friends. We began to discuss the approaching chapter in my life. I relayed my excitement, my apprehension, my hopes and my fears to this dear brother, and he provided me much support and comfort.
After a couple-hour delay in our departures, I found that I was heading home with much peace and contentment in my heart. I went to bed my last night as a single man more than ready to be joined together, by God’s Word and before His congregation, with my better half. Such is the power of the blessing of friendship between believers, especially when the forgiveness of sins and doubts can be freely preached.
A Special Bond
No matter how well a man communicates with the women and children in his life, he still needs other men with whom he can share personal matters. Men often have a special bond with other men, regardless of our station in life. Our common life experiences allow us to support and encourage one another.
Although we may not necessarily hear men openly communicating about personal matters, men nonetheless need and cherish peer visits with other believing men.
Men, Friendship and Escorts
Jeff Raisanen | The Voice of Zion June 2019 --
Emotions can be tough to deal with for some men. Nobody wants to feel like a crybaby or feel like he hollers or gets angry a lot. Growing up we try to fight it and not let anyone see how easily we cry. Sometimes we grit our teeth so hard we think they might break to try keep from crying.
As I get older, I realize it’s okay to be an emotional person. Or maybe I’m just not as self-conscious about it anymore.
Once I was driving a visiting minister to the airport. I didn’t know him very well before he came to speak in our congregation. We were visiting about a sensitive issue and soon I realized I was hollering angrily and banging on the steering wheel, and then crying and asking for forgiveness. I’m surprised he didn’t ask me to pull over!
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another” (James 5:16).
An Escort in Faith
In my twenties, during a darker time of my life, a believing man I had known since my childhood called me out of the blue and wanted to come to visit. I respected him and would have rather avoided him. I dreaded his visit, but he came.
We sat at my kitchen table and he related to me about his life, his trials and his troubles during his early years. I expected him to lay into me and tell me what I was doing was wrong. He didn’t; he was a good escort for me. At that time in my life I might have responded with anger, but the more he related, emotion built inside me and soon I was crying. I tried to relate some of my own trials, but I couldn’t even talk. He asked me if I wanted to hear the gospel. All I could do was nod my head. He preached the gospel and all the pain and anguish was gone.
Years later he came to my wedding. Emotions overwhelmed me again as he congratulated me. I tried to thank him for that visit; I think he understood. I imagine he likely came to that earlier visit with heavy feet, doubting his ability to be a brother’s keeper. His life was busy at the time, but he was truly an escort for me. He showed me I am not alone in my trials and troubles. In sharing his experiences, he showed that God still had grace for me also, and I could believe all my sins forgiven.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
Another time a friend was facing heavy family trials. I asked my wife to pick up a card; I wanted to write something to him. I carried that card for days trying to come up with words to send him. Finally, I sat down and wrote, “I cannot come up with any words, just know we are thinking of you.” I felt self-conscious of what I wrote and didn’t mail it for many days.
A couple years later, I saw him at services. He told me the card had stood out to him; he found comfort in its simple message. He related some of his trials and all I could do was cry. We blessed each other. It was strengthening to my faith to hear how God’s grace and love had helped him through his trials. He felt as I had experienced previously, that the believers were remembering him through this difficult time in his life.
Words Aren’t Always Needed
Not all men can easily show emotions outwardly; sometimes we just need silent support. During our second pregnancy, my wife and I found out we were expecting twins. At first it was hard to envision how we could raise twins, but soon we were picturing twin boys growing up together. But then we lost the twins at 17 weeks of pregnancy. This was so hard. We had gone through emotions from fear and doubting to joy to the sorrow of miscarrying.
I remember going to my brother-in-law’s home; he and his wife were watching our two-year-old. He asked how I was doing. I said I just needed to spend some time with the kids. He understood and puttered around the yard as I talked and played with them for a while. We parted with God’s peace, and he asked if I was alright. I responded, “Yes! I am, thank you.” He said, “any time!” He knew and understood I would break down if we tried to talk.
Through discussions and sharing, we become escorts for each other, as the Bible verses here tell us. We can hear how God gives others strength to fight their battles and this in turn gives us strength. The most important thing is to encourage one another to believe all sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood.
1. Relate of an emotional time in your life. How did you get through this time? What helped to give strength and renew hope?
2. Relate of a time when your faith was strengthened when visiting other believers about trials or matters in their lives. How did this help you?
3. What do you think of the phrase, “Real men don’t cry”? As a man, how has that kept you from speaking your thoughts?