Why Do Men Have a Hard Time Handing Things Over To God?

 

If pride truly cometh before the fall then we need a strong harness and a good helmet.

 

Note:  When I use “God” I’m talking about the God of the Jewish, Christian and Catholic faiths but it can mean whatever higher power you believe in. The principles are all the same so if you have a different authority that you answer to please replace God with that.

 

As men we’re fixers. It’s in our DNA to try and do things ourselves and in general we aren’t real big on asking for help. Does this story sound familiar?

Think about the last time you picked up something from IKEA. Chances are you immediately laid everything out in front of you, put the directions somewhere behind you and began the assembly process.

Did your wife/girlfriend/partner/child come into the room as you were searching for nut B and screw Z to ask how it was going? Did you respond by muttering something under breath about how the Swedes need a lesson in assembling furniture ‘The American way?”

Did they then pick up the directions from the corner and ask why you weren’t using them? If they did I’m sure you answered, “Directions? I don’t need no stinking directions.”

Once you finally got it assembled did you stare in wonder at the four extra pieces and ask yourself why they put extra pieces in the package? The answer is that they didn’t put anything extra in the box.

We beamed with pride as we showed our family the shiny new entertainment center and flew into a rage when it fell apart the moment the new (and very expensive) flat screen TV crashed to the floor because the shelf collapsed.

The same is true with our lives. We believe that as men we can take care of everything on our own. We make mistakes and then break down what happened like a football coach the day after a spanking on national TV.

The truth is that we can’t take care of everything on our own and we do need help. When I say, “help” I don’t mean that we call our neighbor to help us drop the motor into the car we’re always working on. I mean that we need help from above.

I can tell you that I’ve screwed up in ways I’m ashamed to admit and the reason I’ve screwed up is that I refuse to hand stuff over to God and try to do life on my own. But I can’t do life on my own. No one can. At least not successfully.

Why do we try and get through life on our own? For me it’s that I’m afraid to hand over the reins and let someone else take control. If we don’t like people driving our car why would we want someone driving our life?

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

 

No matter what your beliefs, the idea that we can’t do things on our own is universal. Once we admit that we need help and turn the leys of our lives to God we will find that we will get from A to B without the mishaps and blunders that happen when we get behind the wheel.

I liken our lives to a limousine ride. We can either drive ourselves through life or we can hop in the back seat and let God use his GPS to maneuver around the trouble spots.

It’s no secret that men don’t like to ask for directions when driving and the same is true with our lives. It seems the bigger the decision the less likely we are to ask for help and that makes no sense.

I recently attended a retreat with my church men’s group and the speaker was a neurosurgeon named Dr. David Levy. Surgeons have a reputation for thinking they hold the fate of the patient in their hands but Dr. Levy knows who is ultimately in charge.

Not only does he pray for guidance before and during the surgery but he also prays with his patients before the surgery. He told us that when he started doing this with his patients he was afraid of what the nurses and other doctors would think and did it only when he was alone with the patients.

After a while people caught on to what he was doing and the nurses began joining him in prayer with his patients. The point of this story is that if a man in a profession full of people with God complexes can hand over the lives of his patients to God then I should be able to hand my daily life over to God. More often than not I try to do things on my own and the results are typically not what I was hoping for.

I believe that a big reason for us not handing things over to God is because we’re prideful. History is full of prideful men who didn’t hand things over to God and who suffered greatly because of it.

Remember Adam? He was prideful and thought he could be like God but instead was cast out of the Garden of Eden and ended up screwing it up for the rest of us. We need to remember that our decisions affect more than ourselves. If we’re married and have a family our decisions will impact them and our decisions can sometimes make or break the companies that we own or work for.

What do we do about it? I have to constantly remind myself that I tend to screw things up in a big way and that I have to suck it up and admit to myself that I don’t have the answers and that I can’t do it on my own.

The hardest part for me is admitting to myself that I need help. I have some pretty serious self-esteem issues and hate asking for help with anything because in my messed up mind asking for help is just one more failure and one more reason not to believe in myself.

I walk a fine line between my need to believe in my abilities and my need to believe that I need help from above. Once I find that balance I have no doubt that my life will improve tremendously.

I feel like I’m trapped in my life and that I don’t know who I really am. I’m afraid of screwing up and have too much fear but as I learned from Dr. Levy, vulnerability is the highest form of courage.

As men we have an inherent need to be brave and to be courageous yet we don’t realize that it’s OK to be vulnerable. We don’t want to be seen as cowards or that we’re not in control of our lives. The sooner we realize that we’re not in control and that being vulnerable isn’t the same as being a wimp the sooner we will have the life we want.

I have a message on the bottom of my massive whiteboard. It says, “In a world where you can be anything…BE YOURSELF!” I see these words every day yet I have a hard time heeding them. I feel like I’m trapped in a hole that I can’t get out of and the reason I’m trapped is that I’m afraid to find out who I really am. I’m pretty sure that I will like that person but the fear of that guy being a bigger loser than the person I currently am takes over and I stay in the never ending cycle I’m currently in.

The last thing Dr. Levy reminded me of is that authenticity gives us freedom. The way out of the hole I’m in is in being myself and part of being myself has to be handing the keys of my life over to God. The sooner I put my hands up and say, “Your turn” the sooner I will have the life I want.

That’s my story. What’s yours? What stops you from handing things over to God? If you are one of the people who does hand things over to God how has it changed your life? I want to hear your story.

If you want to learn more about this I highly suggest getting the book Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time by Dr. David Levy. It’s part medical drama and part insight to our spiritual selves. I’m a few chapters in and it’s a great read.

 

Photo of man looking up courtesy of Flick’r

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About J.R. Reed

J.R is a full-time single dad attempting to raise a 14-year-old daughter without providing too many stories to relay to her future therapist. He is also the creator of the popular blog, Sex and the SIngle Dad. A former radio talk show host and color commentator, he’s also an off-the-hook cook, a bit of an argyle-loving dork and has a word in Urban Dictionary. J.R. has a serious guacamole addiction and a torta dealer named Danny.

Comments

  1. I don't know says:

    I don’t trust God because I was molested by an apocalyptic Christian “friend” when I was about 10.

    • J.R. Reed says:

      I’m sorry that happened to you but it wasn’t God who molested you and it wasn’t a Christiam. Pedophiles use all kinds of ruses to get close to their prey. Jerry Sandusky started a foundation to help troubled youth and then used it as his breeding ground. This person sued God to get close you you and while that’s a horrible thing to do the truth is that it wasn’t a Christian. I hoep there is someone you can talk to about this. Good luck.

      • I don't know says:

        God didn’t molest me, but God (if there is one) allowed me to be molested. God (if there is one) allows all sorts of horrors to happen to children, so I see little reason to depend on or have any faith in It (if there is one).

        As for saying the guy wasn’t a Christian, as far as I’m concerned a statement like that robs you of any credibility in my eyes. You don’t know whether or not he believed Jesus was God, and are defining the word for the convenience of your argument.

        • J.R. Reed says:

          I’m sorry you think it robs me of credibility but the truth is that if someone was truly in a relationship with God that they would never do those things. I understand that you’re bitter and hope that you can find someone that can help you to properly deal with what happened to you.

          • Nick, mostly says:

            The “No True Scotsman” fallacy Douglas references is applicable to your line of reasoning. Is there any wickedness someone who was “truly in a relationship with God” might commit? Who decides whether or not someone had a relationship with God when they sinned? Whatever happened to Romans 3:23?

      • Douglas Presler says:

        I guess you’ve never heard of the fallacy known as ‘no true Scotsman.’ It;s not unusual for Christians to resort to it in order to excuse perfidies committed by their co-religionists.

      • Yes, I guess you’re right – because “god” doesn’t exit, so all that was left was a child victim and a priest.

  2. Ummm….maybe because there is no God or god or gods or goddesses or higher power or deities ?

  3. Everyone is allowed their own opinion and view of religion. You can choose to believe there is or there isn’t a God.
    @i don’t know- I do find it sad though, that you would choose to say you don’t trust God because of something someone else did. Using God as a scapegoat for the mental instability of a molester… Does it help you better deal with what happened to you? There are many reputable and good counselors out there. I hope you have or can find one who will help you better deal with your trauma and put the blame where it belongs- on the monster who molested you.
    @Bryan- while you are clearly entitled to your own views and opinions regarding religion,
    I think JR’s post was not about whether or not there is a God, but it was more about how those who believe in God can allow Him to help them through tougher times by helping to alleviate some of their stresses.

    • I don't know says:

      I blame the molester for molesting me, and do not have faith in God (if there is one) because It did nothing to protect me.

  4. don't see it says:

    Maybe men have a hard time turning it over to God because we’re expected to take responsibility and deliver results. I can pray all day and hope all day and the roof will still leak, the bills won’t get paid, the yard will be a wreck, etc. Wishing won’t make it so; but I will.

    And women can too, no sexism here.

    But, I’m not a believer, I do feel responsible for what goes on in my life. Some times, it does stress me out, because I can’t just hand it off to the supernatural and say, it’s not meant to be. Frankly, for me, nothing’s meant to be anything. In a cosmic, spiritual supernatural sense. If you want it to happen, make it happen. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. But safe to say, if I hand it over to chance, it won’t. So I don’t.

  5. I can’t hand over anything to something I don’t believe in. I am agnostic, but I don’t believe in the christian/jewish/etc based gods at the moment. If they do exist than I think they are real C’s for watching as bad shit happens. I can’t respect any deity that makes a sandpit of life and allows atrocities to happen. God sure as fuck didn’t step in and stop me or my friends n family members or anyone else’s abuse. I’d rather hand over resources, faith n love to something more tangible, like a real human I can see, touch, smell, etc. A group that I know will use the money/time/resources for good, etc.

    I have no issues with those that have faith, I just have none for those gods. Besides, I prefer Zeus:P

  6. Refusing to give up and hope that some omnipotent being fixes things for you is a strength, not a weakness. I note that the Ikea-furniture-assembler in the first example didn’t pray for a correct assembly, or ask god to help him fix it – because he knew very well that no help would be coming from that quarter.

  7. Wow. I try my hardest to respect everyone’s beliefs but I find it truly sad that so many people want to blame God for all the terrible things that happen in our world. I’ve been through somethings that many people probably wouldn’t have survived BUT none of those things were God’s fault. No matter my struggle my faith never waivers. For every terrible report I’ve seen or heard there are 5 more beautiful events of kindness and love. And this is just my humble opinion.

    • I find it sad people are willing to praise god for the good things, but not blame him for the bad.

    • wellokaythen says:

      This is in response to diggyluv’s message, about bad things happening in the world.

      I’m not being sarcastic or snarky here. Not joking, just asking. I’m just intellectually curious. I want to understand how other people understand or imagine omnipotence and free will, because I can’t quite wrap my mind around the relationship.

      If God really is all-powerful and everything is part of a larger plan, then theoretically everything that happens, “bad” or “good,” is part of that plan. The “bad” stuff in the world really is there because of God, in some way, if everything is part of His plan. Maybe it’s presumptive to hate God because of the bad stuff, but omnipotence means omni-responsibility.

      If humans are responsible for the bad things and God is responsible for the good things, then that means God is NOT all-powerful. That even suggests that humans are more powerful sometimes. Humans must have some power over their lives, or else we can’t be held responsible for making bad decisions. If our choices or interior beliefs ultimately determine whether we go to Heaven or not, then we have more power than God does over our fate. That hardly sounds like an all-powerful being.

      • Nick, mostly says:

        Christians usually respond with the “free will” defense. Which isn’t really a defense, mind you, as much as it’s a deflection. The truth is the traditional conception of God and His plan are logical dead ends. The only logically sound position is the Deist position: God created the universe and everything in it, but has no part in its ongoing workings.

        • Not an idiot says:

          Nick- you don’t know your ass from a hole in the wall.
          Most Christians and theologians alike do not believe what you’ve insinuated. Those who have actually studied biblically know the actual meaning and translation of omnipotent. It simply means “all knowing”. God doesn’t pick and choose what you will do before you do it. How is it that you can have free will and god still know?
          It’s relative in terms of spatial and time relations. Man created timelines, we created months and years. We need chronology because our minds cannot understand anything outside of it. God does not live in chronological time. He is all knowing because he lives concurrently in past, present, and future.
          I’m not suggesting I believe and I’m not sayin I don’t. What I’m saying to you is that if you are going to strut around online acting like you know so min, you may want to actually learn what you’re talking about first.

          • Nick, mostly says:

            Most Christians and theologians alike do not believe what you’ve insinuated.

            What exactly did I insinuate?

            Those who have actually studied biblically

            Yeah, you don’t know anything about me, my background, and just how much I’ve studied biblically. You don’t know how familiar I am with the original texts, the non-canonical scriptures, or the history of Christianity. You don’t know whether I or my father might have been ordained ministers. So before you start talking out of that hole in the wall, you might want to check your assumptions.

            know the actual meaning and translation of omnipotent. It simply means “all knowing”

            No, it doesn’t. You’re thinking of the word omniscient.

            You might want to quit while you’re behind.

            • Not an idiot says:

              Haha. If you expect me to to believe you have been ordained anything, you really ARE an idiot. No, I most certainly did NOT mean omniscient. There is a very distinct difference between both words.
              And before you contradict facts, research them. You quite obviously have a vast knowledge of nothing and you’ve made quite a fool of yourself in your comments. As a matter of fact, there had been quite a few who have read your comments and we’re now all quite entertained by it all.
              You are so very elementary, sir. Thank you get much for the laughs you gave us this evening. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Know it alls who only know a minute portion of what theyre speaking about are always the most fun.
              Bravo!

            • I’m dying to know what you think the difference between omnipotent and omniscient is. Here’s a dictionary definition of each:

              om·nip·o·tent
              adjective
              1. almighty or infinite in power, as God.
              2. having very great or unlimited authority or power.

              om·nis·cient
              adjective
              1 having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.

              Now, perhaps we can assume that you did mean omniscient. In which case, how is a being that’s all knowing but powerless to change anything a god, or worthy of worship?

            • wellokaythen says:

              Either way, “all-knowing” comes with its own logic problems.

              If God knows everything, then that means God knows the future, which means that the future exists and is already set. Therefore, there is no human free will, because everything has all been predestined. You are not making any choices, you are merely acting out something that has already been scripted. So, if I go to Hell, it’s because God already decided a long time ago that I was going to Hell. That’s not very nice, but that’s roughly what predestination means, and it’s a cornerstone of early Calvinism and a root of the Presbyterian denomination.

              Now, if no one, not even God, knows the future, then God is not all-knowing. If any part of your destiny is in your own hands, then that means God is not all-knowing.

          • If god is all knowing and he created the universe, then he aligned every atom perfectly, knows every interaction of each atom, would know that one day the Earth would be created and a long time later mankind would evolve, basically meaning he’s designed humans. He also designed their environment in which they learn, would know when each person was born, what they would learn, how they think, etc and thus how can free will exist? If you create the universe whilst being all knowing then you can’t just randomize it unless he closes his eyes n smashs his hands together with all the matter in the universe making a big bang? Even so he’d know where every particle was in his hands, the force n speed he slams those godly hands together and could workout how life would one day evolve.

            Free will can’t exist with a creator who knows everything unless that creator has some way to randomize events, thus making him not all knowing?

            • wellokaythen says:

              I believe this was also the argument that many Enlightenment philosophers took, including Thomas Jefferson. Why would God create a universe that needed constant maintenance? Why would He make a universe that required constant intervention to keep it on track? If God were omniscient and perfect, it makes more sense that he would create a perfect machine that needs no intervention, because He would get it right the first time.

              I’m noticing again and again how many religious people seem to be creating God in man’s image instead of the other way around….

  8. wellokaythen says:

    I have a pragmatic view. I’m an agnostic who does believe in the “power of prayer,” in a way.

    It’s good to have the ability to let go of things and not crush yourself with a sense of responsibility for everything in the world. There’s some psychological benefit to shedding some of your worries by sending them off into the ether or dumping them onto some mythical being. If prayer relaxes you, lowers your stress level, helps you put things into a healthier perspective, helps you focus on what’s most important to you, helps you feel gratitude for the good things in your life, then knock yourself out.

    These are results achieved whether God exists or not. It’s just good for your health to sit quietly, breathe deeply, close your eyes, visualize what you want, take a moment to reflect on the good parts of your life, think deeply, and let go of obsessing about things you have no control over. All that “works” for you whether there’s a God listening or not.

    Now, is prayer to a supernatural being the BEST way to achieve these practical benefits? I’m not sure.

    Is believing in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic omnipotence a source of relief more than a source of stress? I’m not so sure about that, either. Not being afraid of Hell is pretty damn relaxing, I gotta say. Not trying to force myself to believe something that I don’t believe removes quite a bit of stress from my life. When I compare my conservative Christian upbringing to my life as an agnostic now, I gotta tellya, I’m much more relaxed now.

    What worries me is when people substitute prayer for thought. When they substitute blind faith for critical thinking. When their superstitions are killing themselves and other people. When faith becomes certainty becomes genocidal, for example.

    • Nick, mostly says:

      I have a pragmatic view. I’m an agnostic who does believe in the “power of prayer,” in a way.

      Is that a belief in the placebo power of prayer? If so, I’m with you there. I think the placebo effect is an amazing thing and I wish we understood it more.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I think there can be a placebo effect, like the fact that you think it’s working may be what makes you feel better.

        I’m talking more about the effects of the actual physical and psychological practice. The act of praying itself could have benefits, even if God didn’t exist, and even if you don’t actually believe in what you’re doing. I’m not saying that it always does benefit you, just that I can see how people who pray could get benefits from it. There can be health benefits to meditation or self-therapy, so it’s plausible that you could get similar benefits from praying.

        I’m saying that a lot of praying, maybe the whole thing, is just physical and psychological. There may actually be nothing “spiritual” or supernatural going on. If I spend a little time each day sitting quietly with my hands folded and eyes closed and picture what I want out of life, that could make a difference in my life all by itself. But that doesn’t mean it’s God doing it. It could be just me doing it to myself.

        And, maybe it’s just the benefit from doing something not as unhealthy as the alternatives. If I sit in a room and pray to a God that doesn’t exist instead of riding my motorcycle, shooting heroin, or starting bar fights, then I’m probably adding some years to my life. (No reason you can’t have a life doing ALL of those things, of course.)

  9. wellokaythen says:

    Sorry, I won’t monopolize the thread any more, but I have to say something about this, because I find this language somewhat extreme:

    The “Note:” part at the beginning seems to make a distinction between “Christian” and “Catholic.” Did anyone else notice that? Is being Catholic as non-Christian as being Jewish?

    Both of the VP candidates identify as Catholics. Does that mean neither one is a Christian?

    • Nick, mostly says:

      Some Protestants do make that distinction. I was raised believing the Pope was in league with Satan.

      • Interestingly, though, both Catholics and Protestants tend to regard Mormons as non-Christians, even though Mormons consider themselves Christian. Go figger.

        • Nick, mostly says:

          Well, Mormon’s have some beliefs that are inconsistent with traditional Christianity. The first is their departure from trinitarian views (the Arius/Athanasius controversy; interestingly the Mormons side with the Jehovah’s Witnesses on the nature of Jesus), and that the Mormon religion was plagiarized from Christianity by a convicted con man.

          I liken the Book of Mormon to Fifty Shades of Grey: poorly written and thinly obfuscated fanfic I wouldn’t download on my Kindle if someone paid me.

          • wellokaythen says:

            My father subscribes to a newsletter produced by a group that has splintered from a group that is itself a subdivision of just one branch of Protestantism, which is one strand of Western European Christianity, which is one variant of global Christianity. There are probably a hundred people who believe strongly enough to pay for this newsletter.

            The title of the newsletter? “Christian News.” It must be a crushing responsibility to be the editor of the only newsletter that is truly the voice of Christianity….

            Meanwhile, the Ethiopian churches, which are one of the oldest denominations of Christianity, think Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox are just recent fads and won’t last. We don’t even follow the right calendar, as far as they’re concerned, and they think it’s absurd that ayone would portray Jesus as a white man….

  10. wellokaythen says:

    I think one of the benefits of being agnostic or atheist is that I think it allows a little more fairness in the way that I look at religion. There’s no need to look at religion in an ad hominem fashion. Theoretically, a convicted con man could still come up with the truth.

    I try not to take sides when it comes to the unprovable, since I don’t have a dog in the fight.

    I don’t see why using golden spectacles is less believable than being swallowed alive by a whale or being conceived without sex or being created out of corn or being reincarnated as a bug or honoring a stone where an invisible being placed his foot (but if you ever draw this foot we will cut your head off.)

    Being agnostic also means I try to be kind to animals whenever possible. If there are gods controlling the universe, I have no reason to assume that they favor humans over bugs, for example. The way I see it, statistically the odds are better that the gods of the universe are spider-like more than human-like. If they are actually bacteria gods, which makes most sense to me, then we’re screwed regardless.

  11. I believe that a rational all powerful God would turn off some of its “all knowing” powers using its own powerfulness. That sets up a pretty good alibi for God to disavow knowledge of the future and of our suffering. And I think that’s fair. I would probably do the same. I don’t think I could really stand knowing everything all the time. But this is where I and God part ways.

    I was brought up Catholic, and in my pre-teen years, I use to pray to God for my family and also to prevent the larger human tragedies that seem to fall out of the sky for no real reason – tornadoes, earth quakes, famine, and disease – the big stuff. I thought it only fair that we should handle all the rest ourselves, taking responsibility. But my very reasonable prayers were never answered, causing me to leak out my religion. When the earthquakes stop, then we’ll talk God!

  12. wellokaythen says:

    There’s an argument to be made that “no answer” is also an answer, or that God in His/Her/Its wisdom decided that the best thing is for you to NOT get what you want. Be careful what you wish for, and all that. I believe there’s an old Garth Brooks song along these lines, “sometimes God’s greatest gift is unanswered prayers.”

    I tend to take the lack of any response as a sign of nonexistence, but I’m aware of other interpretations. And it makes me wonder what the point is of asking someone for something when He’s going to do whatever the hell He wants anyway.

  13. Tom Brechlin says:

    Wow, I can’t believe I missed this article. JR, this was great reading. I’m not sure why so many, who are not believers had to chime in. I have yet responded to any article with a “turn it over to God” attitude. I respect the non-believers in that many of them who struggle with “God” have their reasons but I don’t put them down for their non-belief or lack of faith.

    Getting back to the question of not turning things over to God, what I’ve learned are two important things. One is control. Guys like to be in control and when they give it to God to handle, it’s not as much that we don’t believe that God will handle things but it’s more that we lose control over the situation.

    Then there’s the “am I deserving of His kindness?” I’ve done some pretty bad things in life and accordingly, no one beats me up more then me. And if I struggle with the things that I’ve done in the past, why on earth would God be okay with me? I personally believe God’s forgiven me for the things I’ve done, kinda …. Years ago I was struggling with some things happening in my life, corporate world to be more specific. Sleepless nights, agitated over the smallest things. I remember talking to my wife about it and I explained that I’d been praying about things but as much as I wanted to believe that God was going to take care of me, I couldn’t see it happen because I couldn’t forgive myself for the things that I’d done in the past. My wife said something that struck me hard and that was that If I believed God forgave me, then I was placing myself above him by not forgiving myself.

    That was the key that opened the door for my ability to turn things over to God and really trust that he would take care of me. Ever since then, though there have been times I still struggle, once I do turn it over, I feel a calmness.

    Something I see a lot of people struggle with is that God is definitely there for us but his being in our life doesn’t guarantee prosperity in material or monetary things. He will and does take care of me. I may not have everything I “want” but he’s always given me what I’ve needed. Even in difficult times where I wonder why things happen, he comes through.

    One last thing for those who struggle with God because bad things happen. We often forget that if we believe in God, there is also a devil. Satin who wants no more then to throw the believer off course and doubt his belief in God.

    It’s Easter and as Jesus said, take up your cross and follow me .. we all have crosses.

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