Learning Love from My Cross: Men, Emotions, and Healing.

A Catholic Exchange article by my colleague, Pastoral Solutions Institute clinical pastoral counseling associate, Dave McClow, M.Div, LMFT.


Every man is wounded or experiences suffering.  Because we are created for a communion of persons, suffering and mental illness seem like they are always a failure of being loved, or giving love, or both.  Most suffering is from disruptions in this communion of persons either with God or on the human plane.  The separation might be physical like death, spiritual as in mortal sin, or psychological due to abuse or neglect.

Translating the Devil’s or Diablo’s name and Satan’s name will be very psychologically insightful in understanding the disruptions in the communion of persons!  Diablo can be translated as “the separator,” and Satan can be translated as “the accuser.”  The Devil has been a separator from the beginning, driving a wedge between the man and the woman, and between them and God.  Separation is suffering and death!  It goes against how we are designed.

Satan accuses God of not being a good Father.  He convinces Eve that God is withholding something—the knowledge of good and evil.  Of course they eat and are ashamed and try to cover themselves.  When God shows up, they take their hiding to the bushes.  Interestingly, God does not ask the typical parental question, “What did you do?”  He first asks a relational (communion of persons) question, “Where are you?”  But Adam and Eve never really get around to answering that question (so I guess the politicians come by it honestly!).  Instead, they “accuse” each other and God of being the problem.

Back to shame: shame is always created in relationship.  A silly example is that we feel more stupid if we trip on the sidewalk and someone sees us, than when no one sees us.  With shame the accusations are not simply external; they can spread like wildfire internally as well:  “I’m worthless,”  “I can’t be forgiven,”  “I’m a mistake,”  “I don’t deserve love,” etc.  They are Satan’s and Diablo’s shame.  Following his lead, we accuse ourselves or others and separate ourselves from God and others.

Many of us are trained out of knowing our emotions due to our experiences.  This training is also in Diablo’s playbook for dysfunctional families.  “Don’t talk about real problems,” “Don’t trust anyone,” and “Don’t have feelings” are rules resulting from the wounds we received from what our parents did or didn’t do, or from our siblings, bullies, or abusers.  Not dealing with our broken hearts or our emotions can wreak havoc… CONTINUE READING

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