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John Eldredge Discusses Masculinity and Caregivers

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
March 21, 2023 3:30 am

John Eldredge Discusses Masculinity and Caregivers

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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March 21, 2023 3:30 am

Author John Eldredge. 

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This is Peter Rosenberger and I'm really excited to tell you about my new book. It's called A Minute for Caregivers When Every Day Feels Like Monday.

I compiled a lifetime of experience to offer a lifeline to my fellow caregivers. Each chapter only takes one minute to read them. I know I timed them. You can read them in order. You can read them out of order. You can flip to any page and you're going to find something on that page that will help you at that moment.

It's called A Minute for Caregivers When Every Day Feels Like Monday. Go to slash book. slash book. And you can sign up. We'll let you know as soon as it's available for pre-order.

We'll send you a special bonus feature for it, sample chapter, all kinds of things. Go to slash book. I can't wait for you to read this book.

You're going to love it. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver. This is Peter Rosenberger, We're so glad that you are with us. I read a book many years ago from a spectacular author named John Eldredge.

The book was called Wild at Heart. It came along in a very poignant time in my life, and I'm so thrilled to be able to have him here with us today. So John, welcome to the program. I'm glad to have you here.

Masculinity is something that's very much in your wheelhouse, and it's under assault in this culture and this world, particularly biblical masculinity. Before we get into the whole concept of this in the caregiver world where I live, I wanted to set the table with a conversation I had with a young man several years ago. I was visiting. A friend asked me to come because a family member had been sick, and he asked me just to kind of be there for the family. And I was.

And in the process, I encountered a distant family member. He's a young man. He's about six, four or five, 285, 90 pounds minimum. I mean, I'm six feet, and he just towered above me, and I got to talking with him. I said, What are you? Are you in school? And he said, I get my master's. I said, What are you studying? He said, gender studies. Well, this is the first time I'd ever heard this, that this was actually a degree.

And I said, Well, that can't be a very complicated course. It's only two genders. And he looked a little bit stunned, and he said, Well, I have three sisters, but I identify as male. And I looked at this beast of a boy.

I mean, he could be an offensive tackle. And I looked at him, and I thought he was joking at first. I said, Buddy, was that an issue? And he looked like he'd been offended. He was so hurt by the fact that I challenged him on this.

And I had no concept. And of course, now it's just commonplace to hear this kind of stuff. What are your thoughts? And where are you with all this as far as speaking with clarity into this issue that seems to be gripping our culture almost virulently? Oh, yeah, there's a lot of anger, heartache, rage, hostility around the gender questions. Let's go to Genesis one. In the beginning, God created his image, the Imago Dei, the image of God on the earth, male and female, he made them. Gender is how we bear the image of God. It is filled with dignity, it is filled with beauty and power and holiness. And so when you have a culture like ours, that is literally de-creating gender, you have the attack at the epicenter now.

We are at the epicenter of the fight for humanity. Because to dismantle gender is to take apart the most sacred thing about a human being. It's filled with heartache, though, I do have to bring a level of deep compassion and understanding. We have parents on our staff whose kids are in deep, deep trauma around gender confusion, transgender, their sexuality, etc. So it's a, I think it is an incredibly ripe time for the ministry of Jesus into people's gender confusion.

But yeah, this is a pretty tough moment for our culture. Well, I wrote about this in an article in the Washington Times, where a lot of people are arguing about stuff. I just simply went from where Gracie and I walk with our sons. And Gracie gave up both of her legs, one after each child was born. But at no point did any child of ours come to us and say, hey, I want to have my leg cut off so I can be like mom. And I said, how is this different than what we're doing to children? You know, amputation is a one way street.

You do this, you're not coming back from this. And I approached it from that perspective of this mutilation that's going on, that we are responding with surgery to something that is far deeper. And how do we do this from a biblical worldview with clarity, with conviction, and like you said, with compassion?

Because I do believe that there is so much turmoil in the hearts and of families. And I had a lady who was struggling because her son now identifies as a woman. And she didn't know how to respond to him. And he was angry with her because she kept pictures of him as a boy around the house. And I said to her, I said, who owns the house? And she said, well, I do. And I said, well, you tell your son, you can grieve over the loss of your son however you wish to.

It's your house. And she seemed to be okay with that answer because she was struggling for solid ground, like you said. What are some things that you're seeing that the church is getting right in this? Well, I would say healing trauma, healing trauma, because most of what's going on, as you said, Peter, this is at the level of the soul. It doesn't begin biologically. It begins with trauma.

I'm guessing a great deal of trauma within it's either childhood sexual abuse, or it is other forms of unhealed places within their soul that then allows the confusion in him, or even the hatred of their own masculinity or femininity. So that's one piece. The church is doing a very good job. They're taking trauma seriously. We're helping people with their childhood trauma. The other thing that's going on, because there's two stories, I've got some really good news, gang.

I know it looks awful out there, but there's a whole another story going on. And that is the recovery of fatherhood. There are good men out there who are taking their role as father seriously. And this is a grassroots movement. You're not going to see it in the Washington Post.

You're not going to hear about it on NPR. But I can tell you, there are thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of men around the world who are taking this role very seriously. And if you heal fatherhood, you heal the family.

And if you heal the family, you will do a great deal to strengthen and sort of fortress young people against gender confusion. This has got to do something in your heart when you see these fathers rise up at these school board meetings and things such as that. You've got to just want to stand up and just start cheering because it is, you're right, it is a grassroots thing.

Nobody is organizing this and trying to make a seminar about it. They're just dads being dads and celebrating fatherhood. And I see some in the entertainment industry who are pushing back on this with a level of force. I think I look at one of them is Tim Allen and the way he has approached this. And I follow him on Twitter and I see things in him that say, I'm rejecting all this nonsense and being a dad.

And I'm watching others that are similar to him in this manner because I think people have had enough. And this is something that's deeply troubling. And I feel like the church, you're right, is a ripe opportunity here for us to be involved. What are some areas of opportunity that we may be remiss on or that there's certainly some opportunities to gain ground on that we can do as the church? The church needs to remember that our A-game is Jesus Christ. Our A-game is not having a phenomenal childcare program or a phenomenal school. Our A-game is not various types of justice programs. Those are all important. I think those are all reflections of our Christian faith, but our A-game is Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis said, the most practical political move you can ever make is to lead someone to Jesus Christ because you change the heart, right? You can change a country. And what we need is, well, it's going on.

I mean, thousands of people coming to faith in Christ right now around the US and around the world, millions around the world. That is the fundamental place of transformation. So I used to work in Washington, D.C., and I was doing an interview years ago with Department of Health and Human Services. The secretary then was Lewis Sullivan.

He was a very, very brilliant man, very good man. And they walked me through the building and the programs and they described it was an hour-long interview. And I remember Peter walking away from that interview, walking back across the mall. I'm a young man in politics and I said, that will never work.

It was like teen pregnancy and all that stuff. I said that will never work because what it takes is a transformed heart. And that is the church's A-game.

Nobody can transform the human heart like God. And so I just want to kind of remind everybody that's our A-game. Let's not lose our A-game while we try and get involved in other things, you know, community programs and justice and soup kitchens and that kind of thing, because the reason we do those other things is so that people might have a transformed heart out of an encounter with the living God.

Absolutely. And when we talk about the church, I want to also clarify for listeners, I'm not talking about individual organized churches across the fruited plains. My mother and I talked about this one time years ago. She said the organization of the church is on life support. The organism of the body of Christ is alive and well.

Yes. And I thought, okay, I can live with that. So I want to be a part of that organism. And I want to pivot a little bit to talk about masculinity, which is under salt in the world I live in, which is family caregivers. And historically this world has been overwhelmingly populated by women serving as caregivers. But there's an increasing number of men doing this and it brings a different dynamic. I was interviewed by several folks to talk about this. We do a lot of the same task. There's so many caregivers out there, women who are doing some of the same tasks I do, but as men, we bring a different approach to it. And I think that's the thing I want to encourage other men who are doing this.

And I'll give you an example that I want to hear your thoughts. I've got a friend of mine at church whose wife has Alzheimer's. And I don't think he would mind me sharing this. If he does, I'll get permission before I broadcast it, but she is an exceptional violin player, but she's dwindling mentally, but her music is still there. And I have encouraged him to let her come to church and play. I'll cover the heavy lifting of making sure it doesn't go off the rails musically, but I want her to be able to have that moment.

And I want him to be able to watch her do it. And I watched the pride he has when she plays, a beauty to rescue. And as her mind is slipping and it's causing all kinds of challenges, when she plays her soul is speaking.

It is beautiful. It is to watch her when you watch him and the tears are in his eyes and he's, he's basking in this beauty of a wife who's playing exquisitely from her soul. She doesn't even rehearse. She doesn't even, we don't even have music.

She just starts playing by ear because she's really that good. It's an extraordinary thing to watch. And I want men to understand that there is still a, as you said, so well in wild at heart, there's still a beauty to rescue even in the midst of Alzheimer's.

Yeah. Share your thoughts on that. I think that men do bring something very special to this space, Peter, because the essence of masculinity is strength on behalf of others and where the world has really mistaken it as they think it is strength on behalf of yourself. It's just the boats and the cars and the, you know, the trophy wife and that sort of thing.

No, no, no, no, no, no. True masculinity is courage and strength on behalf of others. When we can bring that courage and strength to bear in the epicenter of our relational world with those that we love.

I think that is Peter, the deepest expression of masculinity. I think there's a place for it in sports. I think there's a place for it in the military, in the academic world, but in the epicenter, it is the strength of your own heart as a man present to offer strength to rescue the hearts of those you love. And so as he fights for his wife to have a moment of music, right, he is fighting for her heart in that.

Yeah, it's unspeakably beautiful. I think it is the essence of real masculinity. You don't have to be a lumberjack.

This isn't about racing motorcycles on the Isle of Man or being a bull rider in the pro rodeo circuit. It really isn't true masculinity. True courage is exactly what you were just describing. It is the courage to love. You know, I've been caring for Gracie now for 37 years. And years ago, somebody said, you know, what Jesus understands, Jesus understands. And I looked through all the scripture and I didn't see anybody taking care of a woman through 80 surgeries and both legs amputated and all the stuff we've dealt with. And then I stepped back from the Holy scripture and with the help of others, including your book, I was able to see a different picture that I have.

The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. And I realized that our savior is in love with the wounded bride and he's the ultimate caregiving husband. And I have a savior that I can identify with because I understand now, Oh, he understands on ways that I don't because we're a messed up broken bunch of people. And he is rigorously, vigorously, zealously pursuing our hearts to the point of his spilling of his own life. Yes. And I, I want first and foremost, caregiving husbands to understand that concept that you have a savior who really gets this.

Yes. And then I want to pivot a little bit here because I have a Facebook group that I do for caregivers and I ask, is there anything you'd like for me to ask John in this interview? And a precious lady asked, she said, Oh yes.

And I'm gonna read what she said. This is something that has been on my mind so much lately, how to help my husband with the brain injury feel he is still head of our home and what I could do to show him. I'm teared up as I read it, show him. I still admire and look to him as the strength in our family very hard when he needs care, can't work or drive and struggles with relationships due to communication and thinking deficits.

I mean, you could hear the plea of this woman who really wants to honor her husband in this. Yes. What are your, what are your thoughts on that?

Okay. Let, let, let me build, let me build a story here, an answer, and it begins with boyhood. Every little boy has a very core question. And the question is, do I have what it takes? That is the core question of every man. Do I have what it takes? Do I have a genuine strength, courage, power that I can bring to the world? And most little boys are wounded very badly in that fundamental question.

And that's why he goes silent or he goes to rage or, you know, whatever as a man, he stays all day at work because he feels powerful at work, but he doesn't feel powerful at home. The search for the answer to the question, do I have what it takes? Is the fundamental search of a man's life as a wife or a brother, as a father, an uncle, as a son, you can speak words still that say, dad, you have what it takes to her specific situation. I would say, ask his opinion on things, ask his opinion, let him have a voice still. Now I realize you're going to have to filter some of the opinions, you know, about financial things and stuff through the grid of wisdom and counsel, but still to respect the inner man that is there in the ways and then just say it, just literally say it, honey, you still have what it takes. In my eyes, you still have what it takes.

That is gold. I'm thinking about so many in this audience who are in that situation and they struggle with this. I had a guy call into the show one time whose father was so abusive to him. He was an alcoholic and so abusive. And one of the things I've done, John, you may not know on my program that I have included family members of alcoholics and addicts as caregivers, because as long as there's a chronic impairment, there's a caregiver. And this father now got hurt or he had a stroke and he needed a lot of care, but he's still drinking and he's still abusive verbally, not as much physically, but certainly verbally.

And this guy who's 50 years old, has children, he said, when I'm around him, I feel like I'm nine years old again. And I told him, I said, your family deserves the 50 year old version of yourself. Your father has made his choices. I respect the fact that he's got his own thing to do.

That's his journey, but you're not required to. And I think this is where men and women get really twisted around where scripture says we honor our father and mother, but we're not required to honor abuse and alcoholism and addiction. And we can't separate those two. We can honor the person that they are, but not the abuse and the alcoholism. You've seen this in a lot of places where kids are traumatized by this and that they have this, some type of twisted sense of guilt and obligation because it's my parent, I have to be such and such. And we've got people now caring for aging parents, changing adult diapers of people who abuse them.

And they are so twisted in their hearts. And I'd love for in the last bit of time we have, I'd love for you just to share your thoughts on that and the healing process of that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you.

You're in my wheelhouse now. So I've been a Christian therapist for 35 years. I would say two things are going on here. First off that nine year old needs to be there. The nine year old is real. The nine year old is there. Childhood trauma freezes certain parts of our emotional development.

And there actually is a nine year old in there. He needs Jesus. He needs his Heavenly Father. And so to ask God when you're aware of those young places, when the trauma is triggered, when the fear or the anxiety or the rage comes in again, it's in those moments that you practice what Revelation 3 says. Jesus says, I'm knocking at the door, let me in. You open the door of that memory. You open the door of that stage of your life. And you say, Jesus, I need your healing here.

Come to me here. Because the soul is healed through union with Christ. That's how it's healed. Now, on the other side, on the tear giving spectrum of abusive parents, that sort of thing. This is not just for masculinity, it's for femininity too. But I want to say the secret of Jesus's masculinity was his union with his Father. Guys, we are way beyond situations, most of us now, where just being a good man is going to do it.

You don't have enough fuel in that tank. You can't sustain that over decades. You have to have union with God, you have to have that your soul is made for it. This is the secret of masculinity. And it surprises many men because they think no, I just got to muscle through and be a good man. And I will tell you that will not sustain you. You already know that you have to have a deeper well, the deeper well is your life with God, your prayers, your worship, your scripture time, your walk in the park, or your walk through the forest, listening to music, the moments that you get in your day 60 seconds, where God is able to give you the strength you need to face the battles that you're facing. Now, it's not about being a tough guy.

It is about having a deep life in God. One of the things I've done on this show is bypass the caregiving task, because I don't think anybody needs help figuring out how to give an injection. You got that, it's one and done. You change an adult diaper, it's one and done.

You deal with an insurance company, it's one and done. But this area is where the turmoil is for so many people. And this audience, they're hurting desperately. Men and women, they're thinking that God has abandoned them. They are thinking that this is punishment. They're thinking that this is just an encumbrance to anything in their life. In our closing time, your whole career has been spent going in fearlessly, going into places that a lot of people wouldn't want to go to. And they're very painful places. Share whatever's on your heart for those folks who are in the middle of the night doing this.

Yeah, there's so much I want to share. I'm going to give you some surprising advice. You need a baseball bat and a trash can.

I'm dead serious. Or a piece of, you know, an old running shoe and a sofa cushion. You need a place to take your anger, your anger at the situation, your anger at God. And I literally have broken the lid of our city supplied recycling bin that's supposed to be indestructible. I've broken it with a baseball bat because where do you take that? You can't just bury it.

And I actually use it as a time of prayer, where you are able to vent your emotions in a healthy way. You have to get physical. That's what I'm saying. Get a spatula and a sofa cushion, something where you just get to pound, pound, pound, pound, pound, pound, pound while your heart is crying out. How much longer, God?

Why is this going on? Where are you, Father? Your body literally needs to do that because the body holds the trauma as the heart expresses itself and God will meet you there.

He will meet you in your honesty. What's difficult is to meet you when you bury your own heart. Don't bury your heart.

Well said. Last thought, because when you say that, it reminded me of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. And there's some scholars who think that when he said Jesus wept, that there was a visceral anger at death. That Jesus himself did this. It is.

Yes, it literally means to snort in spirit and it's a word used for a war horse. If our Savior can do it, so can we, because that's the standard and that's the principle that we follow. And like you said, that is where it's all happening. When people want to find out more about you, and I know their hearts have been pricked today, what's the best place for them to go to? So our organization is, O-R-G, and you can come there and listen to our podcast and try the PAWS app and some emotional health resources for you. Please take advantage of this. And John, this is something I've actually wanted to do for a very long time and I appreciate all your people helping put all this together.

Thank you. Thank you so much for being here, part of this program. It's a delight to chat with you, Peter, and to have a voice in your audience of very brave, brave souls.

I really do take my shoes off. You've been listening to my interview with John Eldredge, author of Wild at Heart and so many other books, a powerful voice to the wounded hearts of men and women who are struggling to come to grips with the trauma in their lives and the healing that is available to them in Christ. This is Peter Rosenberger. You've heard me talk about Standing with Hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?

No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs. This facility is run by a group out of Nashville called CoreCivic. We met them over 11 years ago and they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks, all these things we can reuse and inmates help us do it. Before CoreCivic came along, I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville and I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere, and feet, boxes of them and so forth.

I was doing all this myself and I'd make the kids help me and it got to be too much for me. I was very grateful that CoreCivic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction and we'd love to be a part of this and that's what they're doing. And you can see more about that at slash recycle. So please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well, but the majority of amputations are lower limb and that's where the focus of Standing with Hope is. That's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prosthesis. And she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled. I mean, she's been an amputee for over 30 years. So you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking and it goes to this prison in Arizona where it's such an extraordinary ministry.

Think with that. Inmates volunteering for this. They want to do it and they've had amazing times with it and I've had very moving conversations with the inmates that work in this program. And you can see, again, all of that at slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there.

We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be, and we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ. And that's the whole purpose of everything that we do. And that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope. Take my hand, lean on me, we will stand.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-21 05:34:28 / 2023-03-21 05:45:49 / 11

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