When I was little, self awareness existed in the form of how much I wanted, how much I needed, and what I could do to get it. Manipulation is birthed here no doubt. This forms rather self-centered patterns that don’t serve us well as we grow and form relationships like marriage.
I was “aware” of what I was doing, even “sensing” it was wrong at times, but knew no other way. I began to experience guilt, along with shame and nowhere to bring it. I found no support in the tense home environment of emotional suppression. This creates a ticking time-bomb.
As we grow, hopefully emotionally as well as physically, we are called to grow into another kind of self-awareness. Let’s call it adult self-awareness. The inward focus in no longer selfish, but becomes the opposite.
I entered my first marriage relationship at nineteen with little or none of this adult self-awareness. With the lack of this or any relational skills, two years was a long time before an unsolicited divorce showed up. Even with Jesus on board. He stayed on board even though that ship went down. It was supposed to but I was in denial. Thats for another article.
It’s been said,
“God whispers through pleasure, but shouts through pain.“
I could hear his voice as the shout of emotional pain was deafening and the heartbreak unbearable. Thank God, He draws near to the broken-hearted, and gives us beauty for ashes, and the oil of Joy for mourning. No broken heart is alone that reaches out to God.
In the wilderness that followed, (my rite of passage,) God brought me to school. It was called adult self-awareness. A friend handed me a book by Gary Smalley; “If Only He Knew.” I would find that I didn’t know.
It was written from the woman’s perspective by Gary. It described what she experiences and what she needs. It tells what she feels in relationship with a man, what she needs, and often doesn’t receive.
Gary was in trouble, caught in his own lack of adult self-awareness. He was being called “to school” by God or he was going to lose his marriage. He was neglecting her needs, was self-focused, and clueless to what he was doing or what she needed.
As I digested this book, my heart was humbled and pierced at how narcissistic I was, and clueless in my own self how to honor, understand, or meet the needs of a woman. The whole concept of me existing to honor them wasn’t even a blip on my relational radar. I am not alone in this.
I used to think I was the exception to the rule. The older I am, the more I believe these things are universal. We all struggle with something we have to unpack to find our relational promised land. (Which I believe to be a satisfying marriage.) Thus hope for happily ever after.
The problem doesn’t lie in where we are, but in our unwillingness to accept the invitation from God to move to a different place.
God will not give us answers, breakthrough, or relief if we cling to our self-centered self awareness. The Father calls us to grow and learn to love others.
My assignment from God is the rocket fuel to write to this.
So, in which self-awareness do you move and how is it working in your marriage?
Things get “rocky” on purpose, so we will come to God for the growth into self-awareness we need. I think God arranges this so we will be pushed to get out of ourselves and over our selves.
The Gifts Self-Awareness Bring
Healthy need meeting
As I child, I figured out how to meet my needs on my own since no one else was going to do it. I developed coping skills, as we all do, to compensate for the pain of not receiving the unconditional love I needed. These have been called behavioral narcotics. We become addicted to these things that make us feel better, but also imprison our personalities.
So where does self-awareness play into this?
Self-awareness shows you the “constructs” you have built to meet your needs your own way. It shows you where you are “medicating yourself.” These self-medicating patterns create bad relational dynamics. Bummer.
We can run but can’t hide when it comes to these things. God, in His love exposes us so we can get free and have the intimacy these patterns are blocking. It does depend on you! More than you know.
Repentance–God’s Battereing Ram
Through the gift of self-awareness you can find repentance. You can “come clean” with God and your spouse. You can surrender to God as He remodels your constructs. You can breathe the fresh air of forgiveness, emotional honesty, and clean living.
I had to grow out pornography. Now I have your attention. I was introduced to that curse at a tender age with a teenage brother four years my senior. He was my sex education. I struggled with it for many years, even after I found Jesus at nineteen in the Jesus movement days in the seventies. Proverbs says it can “reduce a man to a crust of bread.”
Jesus wants to mentor us in sexual freedom and fulfilment. (Chapters in the approaching book.)
It’s not about the sex
I heard someone say “it is too.”
No it isn’t.
Years back, a pastor friend of ours, a happily married family man confided with Linda and I that he had “same sex attraction,” even though married. He said at one time,
“It’s not about the sex, it’s about the unmet need for validation & affirmation, it’s about the acceptance.”
I’ve heard this refrain repeatedly from those in the gay community who have found, with God’s help, and accepting others, the truth about their struggles, and their true identity needs.
Anyone can have sex without intimacy. That’s what sexual addition is, false intimacy. There’s a book on it, False Intimacy by Dr. Harry W. Schaumburg. Navpress, 1997. I have a marked up copy. It makes me nothing, but free.
As an older, wiser man once said in a class I attended,
“There are many sires, but few fathers.“
In other words, any man can make babies, get a woman pregnant. But few will take responsibility to Father that child and mentor them, calling them out to be the man or woman God intended them to be. Healthy, well-affirmed children, growing up in the framework of whole masculine and feminine role models. No confusion or questions about identity there.
While reading Healing the Masculine Soul, by Gordon Dalby, Word, 1988, I came across a story. Remember, this book was written in the late eighties.
He was in a church viewing of the anti-abortion film “The Silent Scream.”
He describes how after viewing the film, the pastor invited prayer from those attending. One prayed for the young pregnant women, another for the parents of the women, the abortion clinics, the doctors and nurses at the clinics, even the unborn babies themselves, and for the nations conscience. He says,
“As I sat, head bowed, my spirit agreed with all these prayers. And yet a restless uneasiness prodded me. Something was missing, overlooked. ‘Lord, I prayed, is there something else perhaps even more key to the issue not being prayed?”
“Almost at once the words burst forth into my mind,
“Pray for the men! No one is recognizing that without a man to impregnate the woman the abortion issue would not exist. The men are the problem, and no one even recognizes the need for my transforming hand upon them.
Even if a woman agrees or seeks sexual intercourse, she cannot force herself upon the man. It is he who has the ultimate responsibility to say no, and it is he whom I hold ultimately accountable.”
Dalby then asks the Lord, “How shall I pray for the men?”
“In my heart I sensed a clear answer.
The men are not submitted to Me. They have become passive in the face of responsibility, They are not living in response to me. . . Pray that the men surrender to Me, that they would receive My caring heart for women, that the spirit of passivity, (the silence of Adam,) would be bound over them and they would walk in responsibility.” Pg. 18,19 Par. mine
Self-aware men will not blame women for the problem, but will own the truth that they are the problem.
I know, I know, it takes two, however, the man is the initiator, the woman takes what he gives her. A real man will take responsibility before God for the seed he carries and what he does with it. Broken masculinity will use and abuse women for it’s selfish objectifying lusts.
You can blame the “loose daughters of Eve,” for the sickening multi-billion dollar porn industry, or the broken ones, (mostly men), who fuel the industry with their addiction and idolatry.
These need to grow out of their adolescent sexuality and become real men who can manage their sexuality with adult self-awareness and restraint that only comes through submission to Jesus and the cross. These are checked-in males who have authority and influence.
Adam can’t walk with integrity while still blame the woman for his brokenness. He must become aware of it, own it, and forsake it. God didn’t return to the fallen Garden calling out,
“Eve, where are you?”
No, He came after his man, the one He had a deal with. The one He trusted and risked everything with. The one to whom He gave headship, not to dominate, but to gain authority through submission and laying down his life.
“Adam, where are you?”
I’m telling you this to illustrate that self-awareness can reveal to you the reasons we can remain addicted or bound to certain patterns. But we must be willing to look deeper into God’s mirror to see it. This is the journey. As always, I pray for all who read these words to receive the impartation that rests upon them. XO Dan