Ethics & Christian living, Wellbeing

The opposite of toxic masculinity

Carl Beech is the founder of Christian Vision for Men and Edge Ministries which builds Christian communities in areas of deprivation.

I have been deeply struck by how Carl has shared news of his recent diagnosis of Early Onset Parkinson’s disease.  I have found his insights an inspirational example of how God’s power is often most at work through our pain and difficulties. I would recommend watching the video below which was recorded just after he received confirmation of his diagnosis.

Carl is someone who has spent years sharing his faith with men. The authenticity and earthiness of his faith has certainly spoken to me. It is the very opposite of toxic masculinity.

All the words below and video are taken, with permission, from Carl’s facebook page.

Parkinson’s disease is the fastest growing neurological disorder amongst men. It’s a progressive and degenerative syndrome. Early Onset Parkinson’s is when you are diagnosed at 50 or younger.

Many people are embarrassed, hide the symptoms or are scared to find help. I’m hoping to play my part in smashing the stigmas.

Parkinson’s can affect your mind and bring on anxiety, depression and apathy. It can affect your handwriting, voice, bladder, bowel, face muscles, mobility, balance, comes with significant pain, stiffness, cramps and more.

‘Aren’t you angry with God?’

People have asked me a lot how my faith stacks up against these health challenges. People have asked me questions like:

“You’ve spent 30 years serving the church and your God, so aren’t you angry?”

“Aren’t you questioning your faith?”

And stuff like that.

Now I mean this with 100% sincerity and I’ve obviously thought about it a lot. My answers are simple.

Firstly, instead of thinking, “why me?” I’ve instead thought “why not me?” I don’t get some special and weird heavenly “ambassadorial immunity” just because I’ve had a go at a few things over the years. If that were the case then that would create more than a few dilemmas.

Secondly, I genuinely see this as a gift. The whole of my life is being recalibrated and that’s a very good thing. New priorities, sharper focus, more dependence on grace, faith, friends and family. Humility is beautiful and Early Onset Parkinson’s as a progressive brain disease is a humbling thing. It sucks but it’s also a gift.

Thirdly, faith is truly proven when you’re in a trench having a full on dust up. Not when you’re theorising or pontificating from the side lines. In times like this you either fix bayonets and get stuck in, or you crawl under a rock. I’ve never been one for the latter.

Fourthly, I know where I put my trust. It’s still, after all these years in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know Christ has full on decked Parkinson’s, I’ve just got to hold on. I’ll get a new body one day and it’ll be in the blink of an eye. I still believe if we put our trust in Christ it’ll be okay in the end.

The video Carl shared when his diagnosis was confirmed on 5th April 2023

Every precious moment

Bear with me as I share one more thing. I was walking round a lagoon with a small group of very dear mates in Lanzarote a few weeks ago. One of whom is terminally ill. We were talking about death. Something we sort of avoid talking about in the west until it’s up close and personal. We were discussing what happens immediately on and after dying.

I felt I had a moment of clarity and said this:

“I don’t know for sure what the mechanics are, but what I do know is this that in a blink of an eye we will all be together again, and it’ll seem like we’ve woken up from a dream. All the ups, downs, joys and pains, will be gone and it’ll be like, ‘hey, weren’t we just walking around a lagoon together?’ because we’ll be home, and real life would’ve just begun.”

So for now we plough on and make the best of every precious moment…

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