What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a real man?
When I was still a boy, I was sometimes told phrases like:
- Don’t be a wussy!
- Don’t cry!
- Never let them smell any fear!
- Be a man!
- Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps!
- Never let them see you sweat!
- Man up!
Today, manliness is closely associated to everything not feminine.
- Facial hair.
- Physical power.
- Fix things.
- Kill things.
- Lift things.
- Financial power.
- Ability to withstand stress.
- Eating spicy or high quantities of food, especially meat.
- Drinking stout and a lot of alcoholic drinks.
- Enduring pain.
- Mental toughness (will not break).
How did manliness get hijacked?
I think manliness has been hijacked. The idea that manliness means courage is still there, but what we are courageous about is where I judge we as a society, and in too many churches, have it wrong.
Responding to marketing or peer pressure to grow a beard, build a muscular physique, withhold emotions, eat things that cause stool problems, kill a spider, endure pain, never let them see you sweat, etc., doesn’t sound like courage to me. It sounds like what you could get almost any male of a certain age to do.
One of the most repeated phrases in the Bible is, “do not be afraid!” But men are too often most afraid of being seen. They hide what is going on in their hearts and heads. They shrink back in fear from communicating what they feel to those they love the most.
The courageous thing to do is to be the man God built you to be, even if it goes against peer and marketing pressure.
The courageous thing to do, it seems to me, is to courageously be vulnerable to share what is going on in your head and heart with people you trust. What seems courageous to me is to stand in your truth in front of other men and share the weakest part about you.
Perhaps the courageous thing is to courageously communicate what you feel and think to the most important relationship in your life.
Living Boldly In Today’s Manliness
When men hold back courageous vulnerability and let marketing and peer pressure drive what it means for them to be a men, they tend to create the very thing they fear the most.
When they fear sharing what is really going on inside of them, it leads to feelings of self-hatred, depression and aloneness. They feel like they are the only ones who have ever had such an issue. The way they think impacts the way that others interact with them which usually pushes people further away from them.
When they fear communicating the relationship issues with the one they love the most, they hold onto anger, bitterness, and frustration. Over time, the very connection that they wish they had becomes less obtainable as they act out, usually unintentionally, in such a way that they push the one they love away from them.
Take Back Your Definition Of Manliness
The only way to get what you really want is to be the man God built you to be and to move with courageous vulnerability toward the ones we love the most. Be real. Against peer pressure, take risks to authentically be the man you know you are in your heart of hearts. Withstand the marketer’s pressure, and redefine what it means to truly be a man!
By Roy Wooten
Roy completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009 and has been the longtime leader of The Crucible Project community in Houston. Roy and his wife Devra have led over 135 of their Life Together Forever Couples Weekends and are the authors of The Secret to Lifetime Love: Speaking and Hearing Truth. He also authored Full Throttle Into Fatherhood and is the Executive Director of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers in Houston, Texas. Follow Roy at LifeTogetherForever.com.
Photo Credit: Treasure Coast newspapers