I had no idea
Garbage in, garbage out is a familiar term in the computer industry. I discovered, in the most profound and personal way, that it can apply to us mortals as well. In my case, that discovery, which was an entirely spiritual event, took place during a weekend retreat at Men at The Cross, and it was amazing. It was what I like to call “A God Thing.”
I came to the retreat fairly smug about myself to the extent that at age 75 I thought I felt quite healthy, not only physically, but emotionally, psyche-wise, and spiritually (even though my solid walk as a Christian man began but 5 years ago). I, in no way, perceived that any of the garbage of my past life still played any role in how and what I was at present. I was quite sure that it had all been dealt with. Thus, there was no garbage to get out. I was wrong. In fact, I was so wrong that by the end of the retreat I was convinced that not only had I had garbage to face, but that it had been so much a part of me for over 60 years that I had been carrying it in my mind like a suitcase I couldn’t let go of. The mask, represented by that suitcase of garbage, literally filtered what I allowed in in terms of love and relationships. Worse, it had been a shield against what I might let out as well. My choices and decisions had thus been predicated on how well that mask or shield would protect my vulnerability as a man. It had, simply put, become a stone wall which was quite difficult for anyone to penetrate, and an easy one for me to hide the real me behind.
The process at the retreat, through brotherly love and community in the truest sense of the word, broke through the mask and smashed that stone wall and in doing so all the garbage that was still in, was out. Out, right there in the open, through a river of tears. Sixty plus years of crap went flowing down that river. And what happened as a result? I was lighter, I felt clean, and I was free. I no longer had that suitcase of old garbage that I needed to carry. But it gets better. I have never felt so loved, felt that I had so much worth, felt so forgiven by God, nor felt so much brotherly support as I did when that break-through took place. And in the time since the retreat, none of that has changed one iota. I know, with no doubt, that I matter to God, that I am a good man, that I am a child of God, and that I am free. MATC made me whole, just as God wants me.