Hey everyone! My name is Brock—though I’ve met many of you before, I thought I’d introduce myself really quick before we dig in. I’m Melody’s son, and I have been working at Brave Girls for about 5 years. Mainly, I am the videographer and online class crafter; I film and edit our dozens of soul work classes on Brave Girl University. I’ve also met many of you through the support site, and at camp. If I haven’t met you before, then nice to meet you 🙂
Now, I have to tell you guys something… last week, history was made. I truly believe that.
As you may already know, hundreds of thousands of women all over the world have had their lives changed by the message at the heart of Brave Girls Club… A message reminding you of your infinite worth. A message reminding you that you can do hard things. A message reminding you of truths you once knew, but may have forgotten… most importantly, the truth that you are so, so very loved.
Up to this point, Brave Girls’ Club has been limited to just that—women. There is tremendous power in a woman who knows who she is. A woman who knows her worth, her potential, and her power is a force to be reckoned with… She can, and will, change the lives of everyone she influences. That’s why BGC’s mission has always been to “change the world, one woman at a time.”
But guess what, you guys. We men need our souls restored. We need it desperately, in many of the same ways as women, and in many ways I never would have expected.
Last week, we had our very first guinea-pig, testing-the-waters, Soul Restoration-for-men camp. I want to share that experience with you, from my perspective—as a participant. I had so many expectations and assumptions at the beginning of camp… and just about every one of them was shifted or even spun around 180 degrees. Let me tell you some of the truths I learned.
1. Men have feelings, and they actually love to talk about it.
Before camp started, I had one main concern: that it would be difficult to get a room full of men to talk about issues of the heart and soul, of emotion, of hurt. It seems that a man is generally perceived that way—somewhat out of touch with his feelings, a little uncomfortable with discussing emotions, logically-minded, and generally much less emotionally affected than a woman. I don’t want to make assumptions about how you personally perceive men, but I can tell you that most of us men in that room felt like we are generally seen in that way, and more importantly, like we are supposed to act that way.
Lies. Lies, lies, lies. Here is the truth. I know it with certainty, from what I just experienced with 13 other men: Men are tender. Men are compassionate. Men get hurt… so deeply, so heartbreakingly… tears are filling my eyes as I think about some of the pain I witnessed in my brothers last week. Men need to talk about these things, and once they are in a position to do so, they WILL talk… a lot. Unfortunately, there aren’t many safe places to do so… and like I said before, most of us feel like we aren’t supposed to bear our emotional wounds, or even have them, for that matter. But damn it, we do have wounds. Deep, agonizing, decades-old wounds that affect our lives every day… and those wounds, those lies, need to be healed.
2. The other side of the same coin: a man wants to feel powerful and strong… and a woman who loves him wants that for him, too.
This was intriguing to find out. Not only did many of us feel like we weren’t “supposed” to be tender and emotional, we also felt like we weren’t allowed to display power or strength or leadership—because we’d be perceived as domineering or controlling or misogynistic.
Tyranny of any kind is wrong. Exploiting someone’s weaknesses is wrong. Misogyny, or any categorical sense of superiority based on gender/race/whatever, is wrong. None of these things are defensible, and I will defend all people against these things whenever I am able. These things are not what I’m talking about here.
A man can be his powerful, strong, true self, and a woman can be her powerful, strong, true self. The two can complement each other perfectly. And I don’t say this theoretically—I am extremely fortunate to have multiple examples of it in the people close to me, as well as at camp last week. And, when my mom posed the question on Facebook last week, “What would it mean to you to have a man who is whole, healed, and leading his life with love?”, so many of you expressed a desire that every one of us at camp would be healed and restored to the powerful strength that every person on this earth is meant to have (by the way, my mom read all those notes to us around the red carpet… it was one of the most sacred and awe-inspiring experiences of the whole week).
As I said before, a woman who knows her worth and power and potential is a force to be reckoned with. So too is a man who feels the powerful strength and confidence to protect, to respect, to defend, to be himself, to honor, and to love.
3. A vile contempt for throw pillows seems to be pretty much universal among all men.
Ah, the eternal battle of husbands and wives the world over… pillows.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the need for beauty. Beauty is a language of love. Beauty in the home brings such an aura of peace and joy.
But why is a beautiful object sitting on the couch, right where I need to sit? What am I supposed to do with it? Do I put my butt on it? Do I hold it awkwardly on my lap like some kind of weird lap adornment? My lap doesn’t need to be adorned.
Pillows are dumb.
Fortunately, in their infinite wisdom, Melody and Kathy purged the camp sofas of throw pillows prior to man camp… and every one of us basked in the glory of a couch unfettered, uncluttered by stuffed fabric obstructions.
4. “A man has the power to hurt physically; a woman has the power to hurt a soul.”
This one… this one is heavy, and perhaps controversial. But hear me out. I don’t mean to generalize; I know both men and women have the capacity to cause physical and emotional hurt. Here’s what I experienced though…
The quote above was spoken by one of my brothers at camp as we sat around the red carpet, and it struck a deep chord with many of us sitting there. I wish you could hear the stories of some of the men in that circle… I cannot share them with you, as there is a sacred agreement of confidentiality around the red carpet, but I can say this:
Women, you have an unbelievable amount of power to hurt, or heal, a man’s soul.
This is tough to put into words; it’s seemingly woven into the fabric of our existence. Mothers, wives, and daughters were the root of so much of the soul-happiness and soul-hurt in that room. So much. Before last week, I don’t think I had such a deep understanding of this… but I do now. I think I understand why healed women can heal the world… it’s because men’s healing is tied so inextricably to that of the women they love. Please, my sisters, do not underestimate the power you have to help the men in your life. We need your love. We need your nurture. We need your wisdom. We need your power.
We need you.
5. Love transcends labels.
I don’t sit in on the sharing/discussion sessions at Brave Girls Camp, so I had only heard about this phenomenon second-hand… but my mom says, every time we have a camp, that the women all fall so deeply in love with each other that there is nothing any of them could say or do to change that love. No story from their past, no political label, nothing.
This was exactly our experience at man camp. By the third night, as we all sat around the campfire together, our stories emerged. And it was truly miraculous what happened… We were a diverse group, with different experiences and beliefs. Some of those experiences and beliefs had the very real potential to pit us against each other, to divide us into opposing categories.
But it was too late. We already loved each other so immensely that it didn’t matter who was a republican or democrat, who believed what, who had made what mistakes, or anything else. Nothing existed but love. We saw each other as souls, as fellow humans who have walked an often difficult human journey. We saw each other’s pain, each other’s triumphs, and each other’s shining light-filled core.
I’ve learned to shed the labels (smart, liberal, poor, Christian, college-educated, dog person, whatever) from myself and from others, and see only our shared humanity. Then just love.
My life will forever be different after going through Soul Restoration—from the changes I saw in myself, and in my brothers around me. The lens through which I view the world has been changed. I see someone walking the aisles at the grocery store, riding the ramps at the skatepark, sitting next to me at a stoplight… and I know they are a soul. I see them the way I saw the men around the campfire with me. I know each and every one of us—you and me and everyone—has a story that weaves through the whole spectrum of joy and despair. And almost every single one of us is just doing our best to navigate a confusing world.
At the end of camp, we each share our one wish for everyone in the circle. Here is my wish for you, and for every person: I wish for you to know that you are loved and valuable, and feel the peace and power that comes with that knowledge.
Thanks for reading… as always, it’s a true pleasure getting to talk to you.
(all photo credit goes to my lovely wife Sabrina)