“Wade in the water, wade in the water, children.
Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the waters”
I’ve been humming this song for two weeks. In fact, I can’t get it out of my head. We sang it during worship at the second annual Mantreat@Montreat. The Rev. Chris Jones led worship and asked us to sing along or at the very least mumble loudly, a task to which many of us begrudgingly complied. As we sang that song, the voices got louder and louder, and the mumbles turned into heartfelt song. I found myself scribbling the words down because they felt significant for some reason, and I would soon understand why.
This event was designed to be a gathering of men of all “types and stripes” – a place where they could come to relax, wrestle with issues that they might be facing, do a little introspection, and just be in community together. Chris Jones explored Bible passages where Jacob wrestles with God for a blessing and where Thomas doubted the very resurrection of Christ. It was hard to hear this without comparing parts of our own stories to those of Jacob and Thomas.
Our keynote was led by psychologist, father, and all-around good guy, Dr. Brent Beam, who facilitated the “head and heart” portion of the weekend. His work with us centered around social norms and expectations around being a man, including some of the damage that can be done when those stereotypes are played out in extreme ways. Needless to say, this struck home with many of us. We discussed ways that our own lives have been shaped by men (for good and bad) which led me, and maybe others, to think about how I am shaping those in my life. Brent shared some personal experiences and reflections that many of us could relate to. We also spent a lot of time talking about depression, something that often goes untreated in men yet many deal with on a regular basis. Most of us had been affected by mental illness, either directly or through someone close to us. Despite this, social, cultural, and gender-based stigmas often keep us from seeking help in any real way. I think that many of us found this to be both informative and convicting.
The song “Wade In The Water” has a lot of historical significance. For me, in this weekend, it was a prayer – a recognition that God often troubles the waters in our lives to bring to the surface issues that lie dormant and often stay buried beneath the sediment. Whether it is our job, our faith, mental health struggles, family issues, or insecurities, we all have something that lies hidden in the depths of our lives. Men especially like to keep those issues hidden and out of the way. The trouble is that they are still there. They often grow as time moves on and often surface in unhealthy ways. God stirs the waters to bring the issues to the surface, to the light, where they can be dealt with. The response is up to us.
May God continue to trouble the waters around us to keep those things from lying dormant.