Have you ever felt alone – felt like no one else understands you or can’t relate to your thoughts or fears? Sometimes it takes a leap of courage to even mention our inner conflicts because we wonder if anyone else will truly understand. We often withdraw and resort to reticence and seldom share or deal with the lurking thoughts that haunt us and eat at us from the inside out. They are touchy subjects and so we remain silent and fractured.
While working on the rough draft of my book, many were an encouragement and would express an initial, “Cool! You’re writing a book?” After that, I’d cringe when someone would continue and ask: “So, what’s your book about?” When I would share the fact that I was writing about masculinity and how our culture and Christianity have (at times) “forced” a one-sided exaggerated hyper-masculinity, the response is often the same.
Those men who resemble a more virile masculinity often respond by looking away and changing the subject OR defending their way to be male. Every time it happens, I wonder . . . what are they thinking about me now? OR do they know that I’m okay with them being “more masculine”?
Those who favor a different kind of masculinity (one that doesn’t fit the stereotypical “manly man”) often respond with an “Oh!” followed by awkward silence. The subject quickly changes and I empathize. It’s a touchy subject – it touches us deeply. Many of us are afraid to admit that we haven’t mastered the model. We fear the name-calling and the judging glances. Many of us are lonely and afraid.
The response of the latter makes me worry. I’m writing the book especially for them. Will they even pick it up and read it? I have to believe that they will. I want them to finally have a voice and catch a glimpse of God’s creativity and master artistry. I want them to smile and celebrate their individuality. I want them to not feel like they have to imitate that which they are not.
Not A Male Fail is for everyone. It’s about finding hope and identity. It has the ability to touch the lives of many:
The mother who wonders if her son is normal and if his future will be okay.
The father who hesitates because he’s not sure how to raise a son who’s more absorbed in art or drama than sports stats or deer stands.
The man who wants his conversations with other men to go beyond sports and jesting. The one who craves true comfort and a hug from a friend.
The wife who is trying to understand the man in her life because he’s not a red-blooded James Bond replica.
The teenager who wonders if his masculinity is okay or if he might be gay.
The church that wishes to reach out to all the men in the congregation and offer more than an array of athletic outings and conferences dressed in camouflage.
The husband who realizes that his wife is better at household repairs while he has a knack at making tasty evening meals.
The college student who’d love to major in interior design, acting, art, music, or fashion but second guesses himself because others may not approve.
This book is for all of them and for the many others who need to know that the Bible is filled with manly characters of both strength and beauty. We are all a beautiful mix of both but we miss out on truly living because we have been taught that there is one way to be masculine and that any straying from the “norm’ must mean it’s time to “man up,” hide the tears and move onward.
Where does it all leave us? I believe we live in a world of heartbroken boys, confused adolescent males, and bitter angry men. And so, I used to keep it all inside – my questions, confusion, pain, struggles and fears.
I couldn’t do it anymore.
I had to speak up.
I had to be willing to receive the stares and encounter the moments of awkward silence. It will be worth it when just one boy, young man, or adult male is emboldened and finds the strength to say, “That book was for me. I needed to know that God made in me a fusion of conviction and grace and I’m no longer afraid to show it.”
I was a church planter and chose to name the church Istoria which is Greek for story. I chose the name because I wanted everyone who came in contact with our church to know that “everyone’s story matters.” I am now slowly learning that my story matters too.
I am NOT a male fail.
Someone will listen and someone will find healing, restoration and a life of abundance because of it all. And so, I’m not just touching on the subject, I fully embraced it with the most compassionate hug a man can muster.
May you find hope and identity through Jesus Christ.
Your story matters! Steve