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Christian Counseling - Men and Father Hunger

Robert Bly is an author and speaker and has been called the secular father of the men's movement in America. He eloquently stated all men are wounded by their fathers (often because they were emotionally distant or absent) that created a hole in their son's hearts, which they attempted to fill with demons (achievement, substance abuse, power, etc.).

Numerous books, articles and the Promise Keepers movement have highlighted the need for men to grow in awareness of the father wound that leaves men vulnerable to developing a profound father hunger--the need for closeness with and guidance and affirmation from their fathers. Many I have counseled over the years initially had little recognition of the impact of their uninvolved father. Yet, in time, with self-understanding, most discovered their woundedness and father hunger. They then sought to meet that need.

God is a fairly good and certainly needed substitute for the lack of an earthly father, but that relationship lacks the physical arms and presence of a man as a role model, as well as the ability to have immediate and direct conversation. This leads men to develop relationships with other men to satisfy the hunger, especially if their fathers remain unavailable. But developing ties with other men is tricky.

All men need close male connections for many reasons, one of which is that a woman cannot help a man be a man or teach him about what it means to be masculine, only a man can do that. Despite their need for male connection, men are pulled in the opposite direction--to keep the learned distance. Part of the problem is that men feel competitive with other men and want to maintain an image that is strong, fearless and self-sufficient, all of which limits or even prevents connection and the ultimate healing that came come from those needed male relationships. It is a significant dilemma, but one that can be overcome.

What men need is a community of men where they are safe, accepted and free to express themselves in all honesty and openness. The growth in this type of men's group reaches it apex when their communication is centered exclusively on living the Christian life with one another and developing those relationships. In this vain, books, bible study topics and work tasks (which have their place, in other groups) are seriously limited or not permitted because they often lead to logical interaction and hamper personal revelation and emotional connection. This type of group is rare. It is also scary at first, until the awkwardness subsides and authenticity of relationships finds a foothold.

From personal experience, there is no church group for men that is better than this type--male to male, open communication. An experience of this kind gives clarity to what David meant and felt about Jonathan after his death in 2 Samuel 1:26, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women."

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