Identity Relationships

Soul Stories: You Have One

Sitting around a campfire in the dark, the conversation was slow but deepening. Every word revealed more of each man’s soul; their stories, the next things in life they were working through. One warrior in his upper twenties talked about the challenges of being a dad of strong-willed pre-schoolers.  Learniing how to discipline them in a way that honored God and loved his children well.

Another young warrior talked about his upcoming real estate investment as well as his recent relapse into pornography. How he wanted to move forward with God and win this battle over lust.

Another warrior talked about a woman he met; how every moment with her brings a host of new discoveries, all of which are surprisingly pleasant and hopeful.  “But is she the one?”

Still, another spoke of his work and managing his own seemingly itinerant career that’s taken him to three different jobs in three States in four years. “Will I ever settle down?”

Another talked about how his past ways of handling stress through masturbation but has seen a shift towards healthier ways to address life’s pressures. How his new tattoo has been a good reminder he belongs to Christ.

Conversations were safe but revealing. They went on for hours. Sometimes, they’d share a scripture that has been impactful. Other times, the conversations went right into prayer. At other times, they drifted into silence, only to shine their headlamp on the pesky raccoons eyeing their makeshift camping kitchen!

Life wasn’t solved at that weekend campout, but everyone left sensing hope that God wasn’t done writing His story in each of them. The bond between those brothers in Christ was stronger when they left than when they arrived.

Four Essentials Every Man Needs

God wired every person on the planet with a deep desire in the core of their soul, to be known and loved. Men often get caught up in the daily doings of life such that they never take the time to examine their soul, sitting before God and other men who support them, or taking the time to listen to the soul of another man as he journeys life.

To Be Heard

Using my own life as an example, I want to be heard. Nothing frustrates me more than being overlooked or ignored. Is anyone really interested in hearing me? When I am heard, it means others take the time to listen. To sit with me. To dialogue. My soul is making phatic connections with someone else.

To Be Understood

On the heels of being heard, is to be understood.  Honestly, those firepit conversations that went into the late night, were about being understood. We could relate to each other. Maybe not a perfect match of experience, but nonetheless, the deeper soul anguishes of stress, loneliness, wondering if one has what it takes to face the next thing life throws at you were expressed, Don’t just hear my words, hear my heart.

To Be Known

Conversations with young warrior men frequently travel down the sex pathway. Hormones, desire, self-control, mistakes, wanting to do things right. To enjoy sex when married and yet to not condemn one’s sexual drive and desire while single. Sexual intercourse is the most intimate act a man and woman can have physically. In fact, it has a deeply spiritual aspect few of us men truly grasp. 

And yet, to be known to the depth of one’s soul is truly our deepest longings.  God tells us he knows our souls intimately. To be known by God is a deeply spiritual experience. Deeply intimate. In fact, does anyone on the planet truly know you?  To be known, also means you need to be known. That is, be willing to open yourself up in safe relationships.

Sitting around in your basement apartment with an unlisted phone number, hoping someone will take the time to know you is naivety, to say it kindly.

To Be Loved

At the end of the day, I want to be loved. Unconditionally. Whether I am a royal mess or have my act seemingly together, it’s love that shows itself in one’s commitment to our relationship, regardless. I recall a time in my single days when my roommate saw me repeatedly fall into sin. What was I thinking doing what I did? And yet, I must have shown a level of repentance because I’d confess my doing stupid and then get back up and keep walking with Jesus. That turned my roommate around, spiritually. He saw Jesus love me even when I was at my lowest. He saw I was loved and he showed me love as well by extending grace when I was at rock bottom.

Why this story about late-night campfire conversations?  The four essentials every man needs were happening in real-time around that fire. The ink from God’s pen was adding those essentials to each man.

To be heard.  The young man struggling with porn found those who listened.

To be understood. The warrior dad found hope in the advice of a mentor that night.

To be known. The single dating warrior found a new aspect to pursuing a woman.

To be loved. The man-hugs when each guy left said it all. 

When’s the last time you had such conversations about life?  It’s time.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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