Monday, November 11, 2013

The Thorn in the Flesh of Manhood

Can I challenge you to do something, just while you're reading this blog?

I know you may have your own opinions and frustrations towards men, trust me, I am fully aware of the even justifiable tension from the opposite sex to be greatly disgusted with men in our culture.  Trust me when I say that I grieve along with many of you women, when someone is telling you to "wait on a good guy", and the lack of hope that follows with that positive saying.  I know that's a tall order when you're looking around the church and it's 75% women and 25% men.  (My own numbers, lol)  So I'm aware how many of you feel.  And with those things being present, I'm asking you to sit them to the side and let's examine some trues that I want to share with you about men.  I think this could be helpful for men and women.  So, just for the next maybe 5 minutes, I am asking that you sympathize with us as you read.  Please?

Got your heart ready?  Okay, let's work.   

Imagine all the men that get on your nerves or sickens you as the reality that they were once little boys.  More than likely little boys that if you ran across them in a supermarket in a baby stroller you'd deem as extremely adorable.  So as these little boys, let's hope they had someone to nourish and cherish them while they were young.  But sadly, many young boys start to get neglected at an early age.  Video games and cartoons are left to raise us, to occupy our time, because no one wants to engage with us and develop us.   It's almost as if we're in the way.  Well, we didn't ask to be born. 

And so these isolated and lonely little boys grow up to be young boys, with many never having had the freedom and the security to be vulnerable and safely fail because so many times when we showed pain as children we were told to "man up", "slap some dirt on it and move on", "that's what men are supposed to do".  So instinctively, at still a very early age, we have learned that you deal with your own problems and weaknesses and never show emotion, because people will mock you and use it against you to challenge your masculinity.

When Tim Tebow lost in his final game as a Florida Gator in the SEC Championship game, people from all over mocked and laughed at him for crying on the sidelines after they were defeated. Names like "cry baby" were tossed around because a man couldn't help but to express the very passion that he was praised for his entire college career, but then as that passion and love for football and the University of Florida caused tears to pour out of his eyes, his masculinity was challenge.  And in the sports world, even internally, there's no relief.  I played football in high school, and if you had any kind of injury you were laughed at for telling the coach about it.  I had an high ankle sprain going into my senior year, and coaches would scream at me for being soft because I was favoring my hurt ankle when I ran the ball.  Because, hey, football players are tough guys and are expected to play through pain, because that's what men do.  So again, we are trained to isolate ourselves and deal with it on our own.  No one is willing to share in the pain with us, and culture continues to tell us "you're a man, deal with it yourself".  "Get over it and move on".  So players around the world have serious injuries but they feel obligated to continue to play through them because they don't want to be called soft--which is more challenging of their masculinity-- because they have pain.  

A newer story that's circulating now is a Miami Dolphin player quit the team for being bullied.  And of course, the entire world is having a field day with laughing at this guy.  Once again, which I'm sure I sound like a broken record now, telling him to "man up", isolate yourself and deal with that issue.  My friends, the rest of the men in the world are paying attention to your bashing--and guess what you're telling us.   

If anybody messes with you, to save you the humiliation, don't tell anybody!  Because let's just use common sense and basic math, I'd rather 79 people on a football team challenge my masculinity than 100,000,000 people.  And we wonder why our young men are committing suicide because of depression.  And unwritten rules like, "snitches get stitches", are crippling us in nearly every aspects of our lives.  Shhh...don't tell anybody.  And I can guarantee you many of the mass shootings that has happened was probably because a young boy wanted to prove he was a man because so many people have challenged his masculinity.

And I'm convinced that the growing rate of sexual promiscuity is a reason for this as well.  Many men have been told that sexual conquests are defining elements of masculinity.  And so we love our locker room story swap.  Our chest poke out some when we're able to share a story or relate to someone else's sexual encounters.  As disgusted as I am of my past I even have to repent of this one.  My masculinity has been challenged throughout the years because I have chosen to respect women, but in high school I got tired of the challenging so I gave into the peer pressure and started engaging with women intimately---and seriously---only to be able to have a story to share!  (God help us).  And since meeting Jesus and many years of Him discipling me and claiming Lord over areas in my life, I'm back to being challenged again when I'm being mocked as "being afraid of a woman" because I'm choosing to deny a woman offering me the best of herself.

So the men that have to deal with this daily, we're also asking them to join our more feminized churches.  All the songs are emotionally driven lyrically, that many of us are uncomfortable with allowing ourselves to connect with because everything else in culture tells us we shouldn't do that, because remember, showing emotion is a weakness. And I love the over correction because what's a more "masculinized" church?  Rock Christian songs instead of ballets and beef jerky instead of pastries?  Root beer instead of coffee?  Sports scores running across the bottom of the screen during announcements? Lol, who knows?   

But what I do know is that this thorn in the flesh of manhood runs deep.  It started years ago when someone didn't console us when we had a boo-boo.  Now, a lot of men are seriously incapable of admitting weaknesses and failures because we fear being disrespected and mocked.  So we will remain silent as we sexually decay into animals.  We will remain content in our inadequacies.  We will remain distant to avoid responsibility of our actions.  I had a great friend tell me one time that he struggles with facing his son after he and the mother divorced, and that sometimes he doesn't even want to pick him up on his weekend to get him because he hates dealing with the shame.  But I loved this guy because he said, Claude, it takes a man to face the shame and endure that and working to make it right.  And that's when it hit me....I wonder how many of these "trifling fathers" deep down actually want to be great fathers?  But they have no idea how to be one so they run?  Yes, it's a lose lose situation, but it hurts more when you try and you fail.  Because our culture has made fun of us for so long when we are vulnerable, and these frustrated mothers continue to press into these men by reminding them how lousy they are, which is feeding more into the pain they are probably already wrestling with on how inadaquent are to be a real man.

If you're a male reading this, I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to fail and be imperfect.  There's a Gospel that has already exposed your short comings, so guess what?  No one can call you out on your imperfections, it's already out, you've already been exposed.  BUT, and this is a big BUT, there is a man named Jesus who is extremely interested in firstly, loving you and bringing you to Himself, and He wants to help you be the man that I know deep down you really want to be.  It's hard for me to believe that you want to suck as a man.  No one wakes up and wants to be awful.  So in a way that many people cannot understand, you're doing your best because it's the best you know, which also means that it's not entirely your fault if no one has bothered to share in the pain that you have harbored for so many years. 

But Jesus is offering to share in that pain.   

So please hear me, you really have more people in your corner than you realize.  You have an almighty God that wants to breathe life into you and enable you to be the man He has called you to be.  You have way more purpose than you realize.  You have a reason to be here.  If you knew how serious your role was in the lives of EVERYBODY around you, I bet you'd respond differently.  Which I know that may freak you out some, but don't let it.  God is not leaving you to do anything alone like everybody else did.  And when we get that boo-boo, or rather when we fail, His Gospel reminds us that we are covered by the blood of Jesus and through that grace He enables and empowers us to press on towards the mark of full sanctification--in other words, He's saying "man up", but He's offering you a Fatherly relationship and also saying, "Let me show you how."

So my brother, that's all you need is Jesus.  And He's agreeing with everybody that you're not that awesome, but unlike many people from your past who has told you that, He has been the only person to do something about your weaknesses and wants to turn them into strengths for His glory.  So suit up! You're a king when you're in Christ.

For I'm convinced that if more men knew who claimed them and walked in the power appointed by God for His sons to impact this world, we'd see those "greater things" Jesus speaks of in John 14:12  

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. "

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