We Are Broken

Posted Jul 20, 2012 by 5 Comments

I have learned since being in South Africa that men around the world have similar wirings.

If it were up to men to run the world, we would only eat meat and speak in grunts.  Everything around us would have been blown up or set on fire.  Even doing the dishes (as rare as that would be) would turn into a full on merciless competition.

In some fashion, this is just how men are wired.

However, I have also learned that something is broken in the wiring of all men. Our greatest desire is to prove our manhood, and this desire drives us into a constant quest for validation.   We are so set on being validated that we often overlook the value of others.

This shows up the strongest in the way men treat women.

Men treat women unjustly in all sorts of ways.  We belittle them.  Value them only for their body.  Become apathetic toward their needs and sometimes just care more about ourselves.  Every single one of these actions is expressing the same brokenness in the hearts of all men.  A brokenness that stems from out deep need to, in one form or another, be told, we are a man.

Thankfully, all hope isn’t lost.

Behind Her Smile

I recently met a woman, named Ningi, who allowed me to see the darkest part of her life.  Hearing her story, I began to see just harmful a broken man can be.

Our first real conversation was spent riding around in the backseat of Siyanda’s car as he ran errands around town.  None of this mattered to her though as she dove into her story with confidence and passion.

But this hadn’t always been the case. She told me how she was a woman who once lacked self-esteem and would do anything to earn people’s approval. When I asked her what her life looked like before, the answer took us down a path that, at the time, I never could have imagined.

The Silent Pain

Ningi began to tell me about an abusive relationship that began in high school and silently destroyed her life for 12 years.

Her boyfriend would go to the bar, drink and sleep with girls he met there.  Then he would come home and make her pay off his tab.

In kwaNyuswa, most victims of power crimes have no face and no voice. They are merely a statistic.

If she tried to raise her voice against him, he would threaten to beat her and say, “You are nothing without me” or “You will do what I say if you know what’s best.”

Over the years, she began to accept these threats as truth.

As she spoke about her past, my heart ached.  All I could think about was why a “man” of any sort would do this to a woman.

Deep inside I was filled with rage.  A rage for what had happened to Ningi but more toward the man who did this.   I have always associated one word with these men – pathetic.

A New Hope

However, I am grateful the story doesn’t stop there.

Ningi was able to attend a Life Skills class at Light Providers  where she found a lifeline, a literal saving grace.  Several months after beginning the program, this class gave her the ability to develop enough self-confidence to kick this guy out of her house and life.

I am just in awe at how Light Providers is able to have an impact in people, like Ngini, in such short time.  They transformed a woman in an abusive relationship for over a decade and empowered her to leave within a few months after their class.

I wish I could say that Ningi is the exception, not the rule, in kwaNyuswa, but it simply isn’t true.  There are many women in this community whose voices have been silenced by abuse, rape and other power crimes.

However, Light Providers is providing women the chance to get their voice back.  They are teaching women they can live in freedom from abuse, neglect and shame of what has happened to them – the shame of living under the rule of a broken man.  Who out of his own brokenness, went around breaking others.

No man can walk alone down the challenging road we call life.

I am just now catching a glimpse of the wake of destruction of males throughout South Africa. It would be easy for me to condemn all the males who are treating women in this nature.  It is a terrible thing, no doubt about it.

However, Light Providers isn’t writing off the guys in this culture.  Instead they are engaging them.

We Are All Broken

The engagement with these men is different than I expected.  It isn’t one of condemnation or cruelty but of deep grace.

The men at Light Providers have come to realize one vital thing: the brokenness in their own life.  As they discovered this truth, it changed how they dealt with men they saw as “broken”.   Men at Light Providers walk alongside these men and say, “I understand what it’s like to be broken”.

However, the most crucial piece of the puzzle is where these men are walking together.

As they head off on a journey to follow the only perfect man who has ever lived, Jesus, their masculinity slowly moves away from being defined by abuse and oppression of women and moves toward who they were created to be in Christ.

But this way of living and redeeming lost men doesn’t just hold merit with men in South Africa. It has changed the way I view men in America.

No longer do I see them as pathetic and broken men searching for validity.  I see another man, broken, just as I am, and he will continue to be broken until he changes the direction he is walking.

So I invite this man to turn around and begin to walk a long, challenging road.  The road will be filled with setting things on fire, meaningless competitions and its fair share of challenges.  The main challenge we will face is being drawn back to our old “manhood”.

Whether that self was a man who felt manly by belittling the women around him or just sitting on the couch ignoring what his wife wants.  Both men will fail, and all we can do is pick him back up and continue walking – together.  We can walk together toward Jesus, the only one who can truly fulfill our deep longing to be validated as “men”.

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Next Steps
    • Pray for the men in kwaNyuswa and in your own community as they struggle to find Christ and their own validation.
    • Spend some time this week reflecting and praying about your own brokenness. Ask God to show you areas of brokenness that you have been neglecting.
    • Think about an individual in your life that you have deemed as “broken”. How will the way you view this person change? Will you ask them to walk together in life?
    • Prayerfully consider donating to LSA. A donation of $50 can help provide one month of Life Skills training to a student such as Ngini or a young man that is in desperate need to change the direction of his life.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Tyler is a summer intern with World Next Door for 2012. He is currently studying Social Work at IUPUI. He has a hope to see social justice take place in this world through the transforming love of Christ. He loves working out, playing sports, and sometimes thinks he is still going to be a professional athlete. He also listens to Taylor Swift more than he cares to admit.

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Comments

  1. Katie L. said... 

    Reply

    July 20th, 2012 at 9:17 am  

    This was a great post, Tyler. It was encouraging and good to hear and amazing to read.

    I have one slight concern… And it’s that you’ve taken Jesus and applied His life on earth to men only:

    “As they head off on a journey to follow the only perfect man who has ever lived, Jesus, their masculinity slowly moves away from being defined by abuse and oppression of women and moves toward who they were created to be in Christ.”

    “We can walk together toward Jesus, the only one who can truly fulfill our deep longing to be validated as ‘men’.”

    My caution is this: Jesus was the example of the only perfect human who lived. Yes, He was technically male, but neither His humanity nor His deity, should be categorized by His gender. If you do that, who then do women have to look to? Are you going to take our Savior away from us??

    I do not want to criticize; I merely want to caution. Because I really did appreciate your article, and I am excited to hear more about what this program is doing for both men and women.

    • Tyler Perrott said... 

      Reply

      July 22nd, 2012 at 8:14 am  

      Hey Katie, thank you for your honesty and feedback.

      I understand what your saying and I am glad you pointed it out but the point of this article was focused on men in kwaNyuswa and around the world. It was to draw the parallels between all men and their need for Jesus.

      I wanted to bring to light that all men are broken no matter if they are oppressing and abusing women or sitting in America with a nice family. That both of these men are equally in need of Jesus even though often times we don’t see it that way.

      However, I was not excluding women. I completely agree that women need to realize the same brokenness and walk together. I don’t feel as if I can really write deeply on that subject since I am male.

      Hopefully this clears up what I was trying to say.

      • Katie L. said... 

        Reply

        July 22nd, 2012 at 9:36 am  

        Tyler, Thanks for taking the time to respond to my comment. :) I appreciate your explanation. I am slightly more aware than many on this topic because I am writing a corrective for it for my master’s thesis…

        I suppose my concern even goes to basic linguistic level… By no means do I expect you to write as deeply about women (in the same way that I cannot write as deeply about men!), but in wording you can make your intent clearer. So in using inclusive language (Jesus being an example of a perfect human, rather than man) you can still talk about men in particular while not excluding women. It’s a theological perspective that I am doing my best to create awareness for. :)

        And, again, I appreciate what you’ve written and what you’re doing. It’s important work, and it’s not for nothing. :)

  2. Jen Gunnels said... 

    Reply

    July 20th, 2012 at 2:05 pm  

    Tyler, I love this!! Beautifully written and a powerful message about the need in all of us for a Savior! Thank you for sharing so honestly!

    • Tyler Perrott said... 

      Reply

      July 22nd, 2012 at 8:19 am  

      Thanks Gunnels!! Much appreciated! :)

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