“I’d bet any amount of money that you’ve never said to a boy, ‘If you have a big problem and admit you’re really upset and worried, I’ll be ashamed of you and you’ll grow up to be a poor excuse of a man.’ But somehow most boys have this message to some degree wired into their brains by the time they reach older childhood.” Rosalind Wiseman, Masterminds & Wingmen
While attending a private Christian college, I remember taking part of what we called the “preaching” bus. After speaking for about my third time publicly, one of my leaders approached me and said, “Hey Steve. Your sermons would be so much better if you’d just learn to NOT cry.” And so, I went back to my dorm room that night and naively prayed, “Hey God. It’s me again. I want to be a better speaker. Would you take my tears away? I cry way too much.” And He did. The next few weeks of ministry were painstakingly miserable. I not only lost my tears, I lost my passion and I lost myself.
I am a man but I AM an emotional individual. My passion and compassion flow through my tears. When the tears returned, I learned that they do not hinder my manliness but they enhance my passion for others and ministry. Like David in the Bible, when I’m being real with God and others, I don’t mind being vulnerable, open and real.
Last year, I put up a blog post in which I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I shared my yearning for a good male confidant and friend. Here’s my post:
I stood shaving at the mirror and began to sob.
They were heavy tears.
It began with a dream that began just moments before waking up. A reunion with a friend I haven’t talked to since graduation. We embraced. I sat down on the knoll beside him and asked him about his family. He began to share his story and I was comforted by our renewed friendship and then . . .
I woke up.
I lay there thinking about what it might be like if we were to be in contact again. Of all people, why couldn’t this friend be on Facebook!? And then I realized, neither of us are probably the same. It’s been several years. And then it hit me hard . . . and I was standing at the sink crying. Silly?
I have no close friend. I have no male confidant. There’s no one to hang with, share with, be real with and know that when I’m with them, it’s okay to be, well me (and feel good about it.)
I’ve never really had that. And so the tears fell and the questions started rolling in. Is it me? Have I pushed people away? Am I looking in the wrong direction? And . . . Is there any chance of a friendship like this in my future? Sometime soon? What if that never happens?
I have my wife and she is a tremendous blessing but she’s female. And at times I need to be her rock and shelter and she doesn’t need me to be blubbering. To be honest, there are some things (even though she would try) that she just wouldn’t understand.
I have my Lord, for Whom I am most grateful, but even He understands that we need those earthly friendships to strengthen us. He left this earth asking us to be His hands to reach out and help, His arms to hug, His feet to walk along beside, His compassion to listen and love.
And so my journey continues but my resolve is more earnest . . . to pray for, wait for that friendship that could make me even stronger, more confident, and a little more at peace.
Is there something wrong with wanting a genuine relationship with another guy!? You’d think there must be when you get a response like I did shortly after the post went up:
“Geez oh Petes. Stop being butt hurt and emotional. Who the heck cares! You are trying to hard. ‘A man that wears his emotions (heart) will suffer much.’ Especially with men. Wish the best for you bro, but take some pride will ya.”
I’m sorry “SIR” but I wasn’t whining. I was expressing my true feelings with the intent to encourage other men and young boys who might be afraid to be real about their God-given emotions, struggles, and life giving relationships. Maybe more men need to care about each other and their true feelings instead of hiding behind a mask of machismo and having it all together.
Not every man may be emotional like me and that’s just fine; but for those of us who have a heart and don’t mind expressing it through our tears, please allow us to embrace who we really are. And by the way, we’re still men.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.
David, Psalm 6