Weak and selfish

weak and selfish

I was listening to a friend in recovery discussing what he had recently learned and one of his phrases caught my attention. He described his past behavior as “weak and selfish.” I jotted it down and meditated on that phrase.  It is poignant.

Weak and selfish” aptly characterizes men living in addiction.

An addict is weak, not strong. He can’t make tough decisions; he takes the easy way out of trouble, conflict, or adversity. He can’t handle emotional pain; instead he medicates his pain the easy way, through whatever his chosen addiction is: acting out (drinking, drugs, porn, overwork, etc.) or through acting in (emotional withdrawal, criticism, shaming, and blaming). When temptation comes, the addict easily succumbs, because he is weak.  He can’t resist. He doesn’t possess strong defenses or boundaries. Further, he has no strong alliances to help him in his struggles and temptations.

The addict and especially one suffering with intimacy anorexia is “selfish.” He wants to protect his own interests. He will do anything to avoid exposure – lie, cheat, and steal – all extremely selfish acts. The intimacy anorexic withdraws and pushes away his wife, children, and close friends in order to indulge his selfish behavior. He rarely looks at the needs and concerns of others – their emotions, their feelings, and their heart. He rarely shares in the burdens of others.

A baby is born into this world “weak and selfish.” A baby can do nothing for itself or others. It takes loving, patient, and caring parents to grow a child into maturity. No parent ever wishes their baby to remain weak and selfish and never grow to maturity.

Likewise men need to grow and mature. When we nurture our addictions, we remain as a child, “weak and selfish”. It is not what God designed for us. It takes other mature men to grow boys into men. Men who will provide guidance, accountability, compassion, direction, objectivity, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants, when necessary.

As iron sharpens iron, so do men sharpen each other. It takes adversity to forge raw material into a strong, hardened, alloyed steel, which then can be shaped into a useful tool. Men of faith need to walk alongside each other to provide strength to overcome the enemy. A great picture of this cooperation is the ancient Phalanx, used to attack the enemy’s strongholds.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.     I Corinthians 13:11

As Paul says in the above quote, to become a man one has to give us childish ways. Men make numerous small decisions each day to give up childish ways – we offer grace instead of taking offense, we turn off the computer instead of looking at sexually suggestive material, we plan for the future instead of blaming others for our circumstances, we confess our wrongs to one another when we make a mistake, we listen to our wives’ heart in order to connect emotionally. These are a few of the marks of a man who has chosen to give up childish ways.

In Genesis it states that God created man in His image.  I am convinced that God is still in the business of making men. Paul affirms this in opening of his letter to the church at Philippi:

I am confident of this that He who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ Jesus.     Philippians 1:6

God did not create men to remain weak and selfish and living in addiction. He wants us to mature and grow. He has shown us how to mature. He had given us each other to sharpen and strengthen us. We must walk beside our brothers, shoulder to shoulder, to encourage them and help them grow to maturity.

What do you think? How can you help other men mature and grow? What small decision can you make today that will move you towards maturity as a man?

About John Forrest