On the other side of nothing is everything we should be craving.
But you have to get to nothing before you can cross to the other side.
I talk to men and women often about being disconnected. I tell them that disconnection is a comfortable place full of ‘me’ (and not others). It’s a place where relationships don’t intrude and disturb my peace. I know everything about the place that I need to know. When I’m there I know what makes me happy, what makes me uncomfortable, what makes me enjoy the place. It’s me. I make me enjoy the place. And others can make me not enjoy it.
It’s a hard thing to describe – the happy empty place that is disconnectedness. We (disconnected men) are happy because relational and emotional baggage don’t weight us down. We are empty because we aren’t touched by real stuff. Pain, sadness, loneliness, disappointment, empathy, and other things don’t barge in to ruin our me time. We feel fulfilled because we get to do things without wasting time on emotional connections. We don’t have to bear anyone else’s burdens. We are sure there are easy fixes to the things those other people feel, so we don’t give them much thought.
Disconnection is not aloneness, although disconnected men don’t mind being alone, often for long periods of time. It’s also not loneliness when we are alone – we are pretty happy within ourselves. We have a rich self-life as some people put it. It shakes out to be a rich selfish-life really. We like being alone (even in a group of people) because we are not comfortable entering into the feelings, connections, and relationships others seem to be so naturally a part of.
Problem – That’s not God-like. And we are called to be like God in character.
Fact – I can’t stay like this and be obedient to God.
Disconnected men don’t like hearing this. Most of them won’t hear it. That’s a tragedy. I didn’t like it. Some days I still don’t. That doesn’t change my responsibility to do the right thing. The reason we don’t like hearing it is because it tells us we have to leave that comfortable disconnected place and take the long journey to nothing. That is if we really hear it and understand the calling it puts on us. What is that calling?
It’s that we, as people made in the image of God, must connect. We must communicate, feel, share, seek to understand, try to empathize, and relate. Remaining disconnected won’t accomplish any of these things. Connecting scares us, but we don’t want to rebel. So we get shoved into this very difficult place between what we fear and what we fear. And we have to decide what we fear most.
Many will hear very clearly that God demands that they connect, truly love, truly feel, truly relate – and they will get on the Jonah boat. They will want to be taken far from the call.
Others will hear and desire to obey, but will falter because they have no help. They will start and stop and disappoint themselves and others. It doesn’t have to be this way. They only need one person to step up, understand, and be there for them. Probably you, if you are reading this.
Others will discover, embrace, and pursue this new found truth. They will be like a true hero who cares not what’s ahead as long as it’s noble and true and right. They will endure the personal destruction it takes to start the journey to connection. They will take the road to nothing. They will allow themselves to be erased, so they can get to the other side. They will leave the comfort of disconnection because they know it’s the right thing to do for God and for those they love.
The nothing I’m describing is the place we all have to go to turn in our me and become like Him. The place that demands we leave our disconnected comfort and enter into the pains and joys of real people. The place that demands we sacrifice and die like Jesus did. And the things we should have been craving are all those things that reflect the true nature of God. Life, love, connection, relationship, emotion, closeness, togetherness, and more. Craving these is what happens when we get to the other side where Jesus is.
How do we get there?
First, realize that you’ve been disobedient. You are really supposed to do relationships like God does them. And you haven’t. So tell God you are sorry you haven’t been imitating Him in that way. And ask Him for help.
Second, take a 180 degree turn from where you are. However you react to your relationships now needs to change. Hiding, dodging, and shutting out will not create connection – and that’s what disconnected men do with emotions, relationships, and intimacy. Don’t do that anymore. Turn around. Step forward. Try to engage. Stumble through it. Make mistakes. But Try. These are the things you will need to do to get through your disconnectedness.
My hope is that every disconnected man will find his way to and through this place. That he will find himself craving deep meaningful relationships with those who have been craving his attention. If you know a disconnected man or a woman who loves one – please let them know they will find some help here.