By Kay Etheredge
A friend told me once that when she was a teenager she bought a pair of jean shorts that she knew were way too short. She modeled them for her mom who said, “Ask your dad”. When her dad came home from work she modeled them for him, and he lowered the newspaper, glanced over the top and said, “They’re fine”. And when my friend told me this story we waited for our daughters to finish ballet class and she was now a grown woman but she had tears in her eyes and said it crushed her when her dad let her keep those shorts. She said she would have protested loudly and probably acted furious, but deep inside, she knew the shorts weren’t appropriate. The fact that her dad didn’t say so made her feel unloved…unprotected. Her authority had failed her.
Many if not most of the men who enter the doors of Brother Bryan Mission have been profoundly failed by their authority figures. At first, the discipline and structure and growth that Brother Bryan provides is a welcome change. But over time as they learn the routine of a “new normal”, some begin to change how they view the structure.
As a long-time member of Weight Watcher’s, my temptations and struggles are mainly with food. I have lost weight, gained it back, and lost it again. My Weight Watcher leader told me one day, “We are never fixed”. And neither are the men at Brother Bryan Mission. They get a respite and they get help and they get people who genuinely love them, some for the first time ever. But they are never “fixed” because they are trapped, as we all are, in a sin-cursed body. Our son, also on Weight Watcher’s, is within two pounds of his goal weight. He recently told me, “Now that I’ve lost the weight it’s hard not to feel entitled…I’m entitled to that pizza because I’ve lost 30 pounds”.
Author Louie Giglio names the “big addictions” as drugs, alcohol, and pornography. But there are many addictions. What about cell phone addiction? Social media? Screens are everywhere and don’t we all know someone who constantly has a screen in hand? How many of us compare our social media friend list with those of others or how many “likes” we get on photos or comments?
So what causes a man to fail? Maybe it is the feeling of entitlement. I’ve been clean and sober and I’ve memorized 30 Bible verses and I’ve been featured in the newsletter and I’ve been asked to speak at churches all over town and I’ve got this and after all, one beer or one pill won’t hurt…
And then we hear of another man who has failed morally and usually it’s someone that we never thought would fail morally and we are crushed and sad and angry and we think “what is the point?”
We are never fixed. We are never fixed. And we won’t be until we have glorified bodies and stand in the presence of our Savior, the author and finisher of our faith. But we keep trying and we fling open the doors of Brother Bryan Mission and we invite men inside and we pray hard on our knees and we provide discipline. And just maybe the best part is that the newspaper is lowered and we look and really see and we say “You know, that’s just not appropriate”. And that kind of discipline is a very, very good thing.