Wednesday, January 23, 2008


We've been watching Ken Burns' fine DVD series about World War II, "The War." At one point, Burns points out that the young soldiers used language they never would have dreamed of using at home. That fact, coupled with lack of confidence in their superior leadership, caused the soldiers to come up with colorful slang to describe their circumstances. So acronyms like "SNAFU: Situation Normal All F----ed Up" and "FUBAR: F---ed Up Beyond All Recognition" came into usage.

Somewhere after I turned 30 until about 45 I put my nose to the grindstone, put blinders on and buried myself in my work, thinking that work and money would meet my family's needs. I disregarded my role as spiritual leader and my marriage and relationship with my sons became like a long, drawn-out war. Gwen describes knowing how terrible things were, but deciding to hunker down, battle it out, keep a "stiff upper lip" and to keep on doing the right thing despite what I was doing. She says she would go out of our home determined to act "normal" and come home to a "mausoleum" (after all, I had "buried myself" in my work). I was spiritually dead. Although Gwen wouldn't use such language, our home life became a SNAFU.

"The War" describes what was then called "battle fatigue," with symptoms like numbness, depression, excessive irritability, guilt, nightmares, flashbacks, and overreaction. Army planners determined that the average soldier could withstand no more than 240 days of combat without going mad. But, by that time, the average soldier was probably dead or wounded. Gwen and I have been married 30 years now. For most of those years she was involved in combat with my arrogance, pride and my flesh nature. She did exhibit many battle fatigue symptoms and it's a wonder she didn't go mad.

It pains me now to think that Gwen and my sons lived that way. It pains me that my leadership was so misguided and my sense of right and wrong was so warped. It pains me that my judgment was so poor. If I had it to do over again, things would be so different. I know now that my values were warped (Some might say FUBAR). If I had it to do over again, I would've realized that building my spirit and those closest to me was more important than building my business or my bank account. As it turns out for me, none of them were built up.

Now for the hard part. Some of us (yes, maybe even you) have yet to recognize that our wives may consider our marriages to be like a long, drawn-out war. Some of our wives feel like prisoners of war. In that war, our enemy is not our wives, but as the saying goes,

"We have met the enemy and he is us"

For some of us, it's time to wave the white flag, call a truce and begin negotiations to surrender. Only pride and ignorance are stopping us. If you don't know, ask her.

Peace, Kim


  1. Very reflective. Sometimes I wonder what it was that really helped you discover the truth of where you were. Maybe you've shared that before?

  2. LL: Such a loaded question. Actually, it's being revealed over time. "...what it was that really helped..." My mentor, Ken Nair, has said "Could God be so uncomplicated as to call the help he has for you "help"? Then Ken reminds us that God said it was not good for man to be alone and that he would make for us a "help" and created woman (wife).

    I don't want to get too mystical on you, but Ken expounds on the ancient Hebrew pictogram definition of "ezer," the Hebrew word used for "help" in that passage. Interestingly, it translates "revealer of the enemy." He clarifies that the "enemy" is not Satan, but our natural flesh nature.

    So, the "help" God anticipated that we men would need was someone who would be another pair of eyes looking at us and consistently revealing our flesh nature to us so that we could become aware of where we are falling short of Christlikeness.

    After 24 years of being the "quiet, submissive, Christian wife," Gwen began pointing out to me where I was being offensive. You can imagine my initial reaction to that. But, over time and with counselling I've been starting to listen and respond.

    Whew..and that was the short answer! If you have time, read my P4E.000 linked in the About Me part of the page. Blessings, Kim

  3. Ah, yes. I find the best inspiration to change when my quiet spouse decides to speak truth. It melts my heart like nothing else.

  4. Kim, I've read this post several times, clicking over after you comment. And I always find myself wondering...

    What am I doing right now that I will regret later? How can I be fully present with my family right now when they need me?

    And another question that may be just as important--how can I not fall into the trap of making my family into just another idol that I worship and twist into an enemy?

  5. Mark,
    Well, I don't know what you are doing that you'll regret later, but I know what I regret now. I know that I've heard other men express the some of the same regrets. Here's some examples of what I regret (in no particular order):
    - Putting those blinders on and focusing the majority of my energy into my work
    - Not listening to (and acting on) the "help" that God gave me (my wife) when it came to relationship issues. She is still the "expert" especially when compared to my feeble relationship abilities
    - Not understanding (and therefore screwing up) how becoming a "Christian" was supposed to change the way I think, act and talk
    - Holding "deep convictions" that I believed were based in my "Belief" and expressing those in a way that was detrimental to relationships with those close to me
    - Not asking questions of my wife and others who could have helped me avoid disaster
    - That by not asking questions, I did not remain teachable and therefore became arrogant and stayed ignorant. These characteristics squelched creativity and hindered growth in understanding and wisdom
    - Not establishing reasonable boundaries with my family of origin and my wife and children
    - Not taking a more active role as a husband and father in the spiritual development of my self, my wife and my children
    - That I have been a hypocrite, in the "whitewashed tomb" sense of the word. I was one person in public and another at home or with those who were close to me
    - Being exposed to and becoming a consumer of pornograhy
    - Not believing that I could exercise some self-discipline in my life and therefore being un-disciplined in much of it
    - Being a proud, explosively angry, impatient and frustrated man
    - Making decisions without being "one" with my wife
    - Not understanding the differences between men and women and how they are meant to glorify God
    - Not valuing my emotions or the emotions of others so that I became spiritually and emotionally dead.
    - Not handling my finances in such a way that my sons could see a positive, balanced example of what that should look like

    and that's just to name a few!

    As far as making your family an idol, I don't think that's something that most of us men have to worry too much about. Especially as time goes by it will be much more likely that you will have to worry about the other extreme of taking them for granted, having unrealistic expectations of them, being disappointed in their performance, spending less and less time with them, disregarding them and generally being un-Christlike towards them.

    Of course, the antidote to all of this is the pursuit of Christlikeness. All of our future regrets could be avoided by purposing to be fully present for our families right now by being sensitive, gentle, kind, humble, peaceful, self-sacrificing, patient, faithful, generous, spirit-filled and disciplined (among other Christlike characteristics).

    Peace, Kim

  6. Kim, what a wonderful powerful response to my comment. Thank you for being such an incredible model of vulnerability.