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Where Are You Men of Courage?
Written By: Mark Smith

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I love watching the increasingly more numerous Christian movies that are now making their way to the local theaters these days. They deal with real life issues and they make me feel something. 'Courageous', a tale of fathers striving to be better men and better fathers is the latest such film. Sure, you sort of feel like you are at church and not at the movies but I hadn't cried so much at a movie in a long, long time. I love movies that move me. Here are the top 10 things that I loved about the movie...

1. I might be biased (as a somewhat rotund and hair challenged 52 year old) but I loved that the hero of the film was a mild mannered, overweight, balding everyman whose super powers came from his convictions, faith and integrity. Real men don't have to be James Bond to be heroes. Character and integrity are ultimately mightier than ripped biceps and cool cars.

2. I loved that nobody wanted to leave the room at the end of the movie. We all sat there for 5 or 10 minutes just basking in the warm fuzzies of faith, family bonding, solid male leadership and connected community.

3. The movie captured several moments of a child hungering for the attention of a father who obliviously brushed them off and subtly abandoned them. It made me think about times when the same with my kids. The end result isn't feeling shamed but rather inspired to be a better father and husband.

4. I loved the male friendships and the brotherhood of men community that the cops shared. Men have so few places where they can not only be buddies, compete and joke around but also talk deeply and hold each other accountable. Most men in our culture hunger for this type of connection. We offer a healthy dose of it in our Men's Group. Text me at 507-8866 if you are interested in a quality community of men striving to get healthier.

5. I loved depictions of men doing the right thing no matter what the cost. Having rock solid integrity is the new sexy.

6. I loved watching a group of men committing to being truly great fathers. So many things keep men from being great fathers...damage from their own lack of being fathered, the pressure to provide, addictions, lacking leadership skills, arrogance, obliviousness, marital problems, etc. Men need all the help that they can get in being the very best father they can be.

7. I loved watching men freely sharing deep emotions. That is quite rare in our culture. Many men only cry at funerals. Men are people too. It is a sign of manly strength to be secure enough to openly show emotion.

8. The movie stressed the importance of fighting with everything in you for priceless, sacred marriages. Amen to that! Divorce is devastating, demolishing and unnatural. With hard work, commitment and some psychological openness most marriages can not only be salvaged but they can also be built into something better than they have ever been.

9. I loved the movie showing a humble man experiencing great joy and reward as a result of doing having integrity and doing the right thing. Doing the right thing feels clean and it ultimately does lead to joy and reward.

10. As I have filled out thousands of family trees during marital assessments through the years I frequently hear stories of children completely abandoned by their fathers. I loved the story line of the young man in the movie who took responsibility for his estranged and forgotten child. Healthy older men mentored this younger man into manning up to his responsibilities. How many truly healthy male mentors do you know?

The problem that I had with the movie is the 'if you love Jesus he will heal your broken childhood and then you'll be able to love like these near perfect modern day male saints'. It just isn't true. I wish that is was true. People of faith are just as dysfunctional and they struggle with broken families just as much as people without faith. That is a statistical fact. Faith is awesome and I encourage it. But men of courage will also need to come to sit on therapy couches with great humility, brokenness, sincerity and openness if they are truly going to heal the wounds of their childhoods and be the husbands and fathers that their wives and children need for them to be. Dysfunction rolls downhill in families. "The iniquity of fathers shall be visited upon on the children and on the children's children to the third and fourth generations." (Exodus 34:7) You have been impacted by generations of dysfunction so you will have some work to do on yourself as a man. It takes a truly courageous man to walk into a 12 Step meeting and announce that he is a sex addict. It takes a courageous man to admit that he is broken and that he needs therapy.

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Go see the movie. Bring a box of tissues. Pray and have faith in God. But know that your day is coming that you will also need to engage in some life changing work on yourself in therapy. It is all good.

(We had an horrific example of a man acting in the exact opposite manner of everything the movie depicted this week in our local community. I encourage you to make generous contributions at any Huntington Bank on behalf of the slain woman's children.)

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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