The strong silent man. The macho man. Tall dark and handsome. How did these become good descriptions for the perfect man? Are they God’s descriptions?
These thoughts have been going around in my head after a very interesting discussion with my son. He was blessed with the same softness my father displayed. Like my dad, my son is struggling to fit into a world where the stereotype is pushing him to be something other than who he is and labelling him as what he is not.
My dad struggled with many things. He refused to ever read the Bible aloud in public because it always brought him to tears. That wasn’t manly. And that was just one of the things that he avoided because of his tender heart. His passionate disposition could also come out in displays of outrage at injustice. Not, violent, just strong words spoken without question of where he stood on a matter. Even these displays of passion were few and far between and seldom seen by anyone beyond the immediate family. Fears of being seen less than manly robbed my dad of freedom to be the person God created.
Then everything changed. My dad had a heart attack and we almost lost him. When he recovered, he was different. He still cried but now he pushed through the tears. I can’t tell you how many discussions we had over the next three years about his love for Jesus Christ—discussions that would never have occurred before his heart attack. And I wasn’t alone. After his death, my mom received many letters from strangers, people from far and wide. They all expressed their thanks that my dad took the time to sit down with them and share Jesus Christ’s love. My once shy, fearful dad overcame the stigma of being less than what society deemed as manly and changed the lives of strangers.
I think my dad realized the same thing I shared with my son: society’s definition of a real man isn’t God’s definition. God chose David, a man after his own heart, a passionate, heart on his sleeve man. He chose Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. And last but not least, God sent His Son Jesus Christ who showed us love in the prayers He spoke for all of us, the tears He shed over the death of a friend and the passion for His Father’s house when cleansing the temple. He also chose men like Saul, a zealous Pharisee and Luke the doctor. God doesn’t want us to define men by societal standards but by His.
I don’t want my son to live the majority of his life in a societal box fearing ridicule for being tender hearted. I want him to be free, happy and secure in the fact that God sees him and likes what He sees.