— Steve Iglehart
Are you a man who wants to learn from and share with other men how to be a better person and member of society? Looking for male-bonding beyond the man cave, office-cooler, social-media, and sports banter, and in a safe environment? Well, you’re in luck, because Jerry Hancock and his sponsors have begun one Men In Balance group locally, and are working hard to open others.
I first heard of MIB from the Davidson United Methodist bulletin in the Spring of 2010. The MIB website described a free, scripture- based program, but with time for individual input and group discussion. While not ver y bible-literate, I had no qualms about the structure of the weekly (Sundays, 11-12 at DUMC) meeting given the chance to meet other men and share life experiences.
At my first meeting Jerry Hancock, MIB founder and facilitator, began with a prayer, and stressed the need for total confidentiality. Each of the regulars introduced themselves first and gave their reasons for attending. Their honesty and humor put me quickly at ease, and many of their issues were mine to varying degrees. I then was asked to introduce myself and tell what personal and family concerns had brought me to the group. Everyone listened carefully, and their comments and questions came from their hearts. Jerry then introduced the text and theme of the day, and asked for our reaction to it. I felt comfortable revealing my ignorance, because Jerry and others brought me up to speed without a hint of “tude”.
Over the next two or three meetings, those in attendance chose to move away from the planned sequence of themes, preferring another format suggested by Jerry, that of “checking in”. Each person around the table would say what was on their mind, often referring to ongoing inner turmoil, or relationship,or work challenges. There is often group input but every person eventually checks in. After a full hour, Jerry will bring the session to a close with a brief summary statement , and then he or a volunteer offers a closing prayer.
Experiences discussed have included the effects of adolescent emotional and sexual abuse on individuals , especially in their adult relationships; learning how to grow more tolerant by changing oneself ; understanding one’s own communication style and that of a partner and how to actually communicate day in, day out, rain or shine ;balancing work and family; recovering from loss, addictions, dissolution of relationships, and professional upheaval.
The men seeking balance come from across many socio-economic, religious, and professional sectors but share a desire to strengthen their spirituality and improve their outlook and relationships. “Enjoying the moment”, “leaving ego behind”, being “proactive”, “learning to listen and suspend judgement” , “not beating up on oneself for real or perceived mistakes” are commonly-heard terms in our meetings. I hope by now it is obvious that I have really enjoyed the Men In Balance experience. And I have grown in many ways. My self-identity has come into focus. I feel much more comfortable around other men. Finding fulfilling work seems much more possible. Most importantly, I am a happier and more hopeful person.