POWER OF FORGIVENESS
By Martin G. "Mike" Ramey
CHARTED-- BUT UNPASSABLE WATERS
Brothers, I am not a therapist, nor do I play one on television. In fact, I'd like to thank those whom I know who have the 'gift' of counseling. Not everyone can do what you can do.
However, we are going into territory that few--if any--want to deal with--as it impacts the male sex. So, this column is not for the faint of heart, and you may be surprised by its content, and how the matter is handled. I'll warn you up front, it will be handled from a biblical perspective. In fact, I dare say that this column may be the first step in the liberation of many of my brothers who have been searching for freedom--for years--and may finally have found the answer to why they do, what they do. My brothers, the answer for the present, lay in the waters of your past.
COUNSELING AND UNEMPLOYMENT:
To begin, let me say that I do believe in counseling and therapy. However, I don't believe in ETERNAL counseling and therapy. There comes a time when you have to leave the counselor's office, or the therapists' couch and face Real Life 101 again, with your head held high, and your armor intact. You may walk with a limp, but keep on walking. We need you out here! Let's look at the last time you lost a job. Brothers, it hurts to be 'pink slipped' or 'fired' by anyone. It hurts more for a man, because we have been ordained by God to be 'providers' for our loved ones. We are the ones who are supposed to rise--and work.
That's OUR job.
So, to get back to what I was saying, when you lost your job, you had to have help to find another one. However, when you went on your interviews, the 'coach' that helped you, was not with you. YOU had to talk with that new employer, or, perhaps several new employers, in order to interview for that new job, win it, and start it.
The proper role of the counselor or therapist in my view, is to identify the problem provide one with a sounding board, plus a means to get you through the problem--not to keep you trapped in the problem. Unfortunately, there are those counselors, or therapists who wish to enrich themselves by keeping you 'hooked' on their help. In my view, one who has the 'gift' of counseling SHOULD be working to get a person to learn how to face the problem and stand on their own. Not to keep them enslaved, or dependent upon them.
MATTERS OF THE HEART AND PAST:
Brothers, I dare say that there are some of us who have been victims in our youth of any one of the several areas. Keep in mind that these areas are the same areas that many women have faced, have had books dedicated to, talk shows aired about, and articles generated about. However, men have not been afforded this luxury, nor--if I may be so bold--do some, modern women care if we have faced these issues. Ready? Here they are:
*Rape--Contrary to the 'feminized' view, and documented by experts in the field, a man can be a rape victim. Rape is, by definition, a stronger person, or a person operating from a position of strength or trust, forcing their sexual desires upon an unwilling person.
*Incest--Again, contrary to the 'feminized' view, and documented by experts in the field, an older female member of a family can take sexual advantage of younger male family members.
*Molestation--Again, contrary to the 'feminized' view, and documented by experts in the field, boys can have their 'sexual innocence' ripped from them by predatory women in positions of authority. The best example I can think of involve recent cases where female school teachers have been 'caught ' having sex with male students. Yes, we have heard of the 'male teacher/female student' scenario. But, the female teacher/male student scenario is just as real, and can do just as much damage.
*Domestic Violence--This is one that is just starting to get talked about. Where women are beating up on the men in their lives, be they husbands, fathers, or boyfriends. Law enforcement agencies in more than a few jurisdictions are now adopting a 'gender blind' attitude. Whoever throws the first punch, or object, goes to jail. And, brothers, there are more women going to jail and being charged with this crime.
Each year, there are an estimated 1.5 million women AND 875,000 men who are victims of this crime of violence. Let me also add, there are no shelters in the United States to help battered men.
*General Violence--Where a boy is terrorized, intimidated, or beaten up by a group of boys, or group of girls, and has no way of fighting back. While women have a variety of outlets to discuss their sufferings in public, the same public does not want to hear about men who have been victims of these same crimes. Press reporting of male victims is usually relegated to the back pages of the newspaper.
WHY THE TITLE OF THIS COLUMN?:
Brothers, the reason why I am bringing these issues to the table in this column is that many of us don't know why we act the way we do in the present. Why do many of us 'drink, drug, and chase' too much in the present? The Bible says, we have not dealt with the 'root of bitterness'. We have not dealt with an issue in our past, successfully, and it has served to become the 'trigger' of our present bad deeds. I'm not excusing some of our present bad behavior, but I am doing something you don't hear mentioned when it comes to men in this present day.
Offering an explanation.
The reason behind the title of this month's column is simple. Something has happened to a brother in our past, and only he knows what it is. And, whenever the topic comes up for discussion, it is one he shuns, due to the fact that even in our present society, men are never thought of as having been victimized or hurt.
In other words--to some of you sisters who may be reading this column--the man in your life right now, who may not be as 'open' as you would like, may have been victimized as a little boy, and have not dealt with these issues well into manhood, BECAUSE NO ONE WOULD LISTEN TO HIS CRY, OR HIS PROBLEM! The boy who was molested by an older female relative as a child, can grow up to be a molester, or an abuser of others himself--OR--can seek to abuse himself with alcohol, drugs, or criminal behavior. Again, going back to the Bible, that root of bitterness can lay there for years, and spring up in uncharted ways. Seeking drugs. Seeking sex outside of marriage. Constant outburst of temper. Self-destructive, or 'death wish' types of behavior. Am I making sense? Then, let's hear an AMEN from the cheap seats!
THE WAY OUT:
A good friend of mine, one of my mentors, died a few years ago. He told me his story one night, over a cup of coffee and the span of several hours. Yes, he was a biker, and a top member of one of the leading motorcycle gangs in the WORLD. But, he eventually became a Christian, and--one by one--the negatives began to fall away. However, he was still abusive. He would bat his wife around like he was 'shooting hoops' out on the playground. He sought out an older man, his mentor who led him to Christ, and wanted to know why he was still abusive. The reason lay dormant in his past, but was manifesting in the present.
It turned out that, as a little boy, about age six, my mentor was molested by a female relative, who was never prosecuted, or jailed. That time bomb led him on a twenty-plus year binge in violence, drugs, alcohol, and abuse. My mentor's mentor gave him the Scriptures, told him to forgive--and release--the person who had wronged him in the power of Christ. Also, he was to ask forgiveness from the persons he had wronged, including his wife. He found the way out--through Christ.
IN ONE NIGHT, my mentor found the way out, thanks to a brother who was willing to listen, and offer real counsel. From that day, to his dying day, my mentor never lifted his hand in anger to anyone--especially his wife. He told her what had happened, and their marriage was not only restored, it was made better!
Brothers, some of you reading this need to find a mentor; a trusted, older man who is willing to help you work through your past. Yes, you may walk with a limp in the present, but then, you can help others in need. But, in addition to this, you have to trust that God will take care of the one(s) who abused you, hurt you, robbed you of your virginity, and left you to die by the roadside.
YOU must choose to forgive them, and release them of their crimes against you in the past, in order for you to walk on in the present. Forgiveness is done day by day, until the pain of the offense goes away. There are more of us who need this help, than we would like would admit. One does not have to have a degree to be a good counselor. Only a willing ear, and a heart geared towards freedom. Count me, among those, who are willing to listen to your cry.
* * * * *
Mike Ramey is the author of 'THE MANHOOD LINE', a column written to men, from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective.
This column appears monthly in a host of African American publications, and websites.
To correspond, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or, email@example.com.
LETTER TO MIKE RAMEY
From Steve Van Nattan-- I wrote back to Mike when he sent me this article and gave me permission to use it. I decided that the best way to share my impressions with you would be to just drop my letter to Mike Ramey right here. Memorial Day is not much of a day of remembering the US Military Veterans. Most of you people don't care diddly who might have gone "over there" in your place. I hope someone today makes an effort to help one of these Black or White veterans who has never unloaded the bitterness and hate of Vietnam in particular.