The Bristly Truth


I’m right at that point where the crazy itchiness is giving way to warm comfort.

I recently told one of my daughters that it was like a warm blanket was covering my chin. She didn’t understand. She thinks I should shave.

I’m doing a No-Shave November.

If you’re not familiar with it, that’s where men around the world go a month without shaving to highlight men’s health issues.

It would be a lie to say that was exactly what I was doing.

For one thing, I shaved this morning – but just those pesky hairs that pop up on my upper cheeks and earlobes. I know, weird, huh?

Also, I’m mainly using November as an excuse to see how my beard looks nowadays. I know it’s mostly grey and makes me look older. But I kinda like it.

I might just keep it. Stay tuned.

Don’t get me wrong, I think men’s health issues are important and if my not shaving reminds some men to get more proactive about their health, that’s great.

What I’m far more interested in is men’s mental and spiritual health.

We have become a society that measures its members by what people have rather than what they do.

There’s bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” It should say

“He who dies with the most toys dies.”

I read recently (in “The Men We Need” by Brant Hansen) about a Mouse Utopia. A social scientist set up an experiment where a group of mice were given everything they needed. They didn’t have to do anything to get food. Their enclosure was kept clean and safe. All they had to do was reproduce.

At first, they thrived. Then, they reached a peak population far below the capacity of their enclosure. The mice lost interest in everything, even reproduction. They turned violent, killing each other. Finally, the colony died off.

This happened over and over.

What went wrong?

The mice had no purpose. Their God-given instincts to find new food sources and struggle to survive were denied an outlet.

We’re not mice, but we have a God-given need for purpose.

In learning to write novels, one big thing I’ve learned is that there has to be a struggle or conflict or people will get bored and stop reading.

The same is true for people and especially men. We have been given a need to fight to survive and prosper. That includes working to support our families. But I believe it goes beyond that.

We have a need for a greater purpose – to make an impact on our world.

We have a tendency to try to fill that need with video games and sports. While there’s nothing wrong with those, they don’t do much for us. We need to make a real difference to feel fulfillment.

The bottom line is:


Step outside of your comfort zone and do something that will impact people outside of your normal sphere.

When you make an impact on this world, you’ll be amazed how much your efforts will impact you.

Moments that Move

Bob Wiley (bobble head) is excited to see the end of the book.

One day last week, I was typing along, trying to wrap up the rough draft of Wil Clarey: The Mystery at the Mill, when I got to the end of a paragraph and tears threatened to spill from my eyes.

No, it wasn’t some emotional scene.

It just hit me, as the last few words hit the page, that it was the end of the book.

With my busy schedule, it has taken me over a year and a half to write it.

It was a momentous occasion!

I was brought up to stuff emotions inside.

“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about”

was heard around my childhood home more than once.

Later in life, even my father realized how destructive that phrase was.

Now I’m a big softy.

My kids like watching emotional movies with me so they can see me cry. Of course, I use the “I’m just stuffed up” excuse every time but they know better.

The same thing happens to me at a powerful worship service – especially if we sing songs that hold nostalgic significance to me.

Brant Hansen writes about having experienced emotional envy. (Blessed are the Misfits c. 2017, Brant Hansen). Being on the autism spectrum, situations that would be emotional to others didn’t faze him. He makes the point that those experiences and the faith that goes with them are not dependent on emotion.

When I lived in Arizona, I attended a church where the worship leader got so emotional every week that it distracted me from the worship experience. After a couple of months there, I ended up going to a different church because of it.

Worship can be an emotional experience.

So, what am I trying to say?

Is emotion good or not?

Anyone who has experienced tears of joy should be able to tell you that emotion is good. I agree. But,

Emotion should never take the place of faith.

Faith will produce an emotional response in most people. But faith based on emotional experiences has an unstable foundation.

In preparing for this blog, I tried to think of experiences I’ve had that were emotional. There were many. But it wasn’t the emotional response, but the situation and the faith involved in it that were life changing.

I could go on and on about emotions. There are so many negative emotions that can make people feel trapped.

I’ve been there.

I can offer no easy escape, but I can say that positive emotions help.

So, next time that song has you in tears, that unexpected blessing brings tears of joy, or that leap of faith brings release from anxiety, savor the emotional experience without basing your life on it.

You may just find those flashes of joy help light the way to an emotionally and spiritually healthy life based on

truth and faith.