The movie had some very moving and emotional moments in it, and I found tears coming to my eyes and having to be wiped away several times. As I wiped them away, I felt a moment of frustration that I am such an emotional sap. Real men don't cry after all,.. or do they?
As the movie came to a close, the shortest verse in the Bible came to my mind: Jesus wept. And the thought came to me, if real men don't cry; why did Jesus?
The Bible doesn't say what His tears were for. I find it difficult to believe they were for Lazarus' death. Jesus was about to bring Him back to life, so it doesn't make sense for Him to cry tears of grief at the death of a friend He was about to resurrect.
I'd like to think His tears were in sympathy of those who were hurting because of Lazarus' death, and to show His humanity that He does truly care when we hurt.
I've cried a lot in my lifetime. I cried in high school as I got bullied and made fun of, I cried tears of loneliness in Bible college, I cried as I dealt with a secret I was scared to tell anyone about, I cried because I wanted a wife and kids..... but knew that wasn't going to happen. I cry when I hear some songs, I cry in books, movies.....I probably cry more than any mentally stable male on the face of the earth.
During the last several years, I have tried to toughen up, to hide my emotions, to stifle the tears and not appear weak. At some point, it was like a switch got flipped and I started fighting back instead of being a doormat and bully target. I got more outspoken, calloused, cynical, and more.
In my prayer time lately, one of the things I have been praying for is for God to soften me and not let me be hard.... not hard towards Him... I don't think I ever really was, but hard in my actions, attitudes, my feelings.......at times it has felt like there was a thick insurmountable wall around my heart and emotions that blocked everyone out. As I sat and berated myself for my tears during that emotional movie last night, I felt God check me and gently remind me that I have been praying for Him to soften me.... and that my tendency to cry is part of that; and to not fight it as I have for so long.
Maybe it is a sign of weakness in men to NOT cry. Maybe real men let the tears come and aren't afraid to show the part of them that weeps, that feels emotion and pain. We have these ideas of what real men are: they are sports addicts, they curse, drink beer, hunt, fish, have numerous sexual conquests with as many women as they can, never show emotion, have beards, are tough, keep their innermost feelings, thoughts, and struggles to themselves, don't have a teddy bear.... and more.
Yet this Jesus who we Christians claim we want to be like wasn't at all like what modern ideas of manhood are. He wept, He had compassion, He was gentle; yet could be firm and display righteous anger. Maybe another facet of being like Jesus is that we men also weep, show our emotions, and show gentleness. He should be our model for true manhood, not John Wayne, the Marlboro man, or Ben Rothsburger.
I have had a hard time viewing myself as man. I like to read, shop, play the piano, write, cook, and pretty much anything else many people would say real men don't do. I hate sports and hunting, enjoy fishing if I am catching something and the weather and fishing conditions are ideal. I'm vulnerable, cry, and have become more open about my feelings and struggles. I'm not attracted to women, I don't drink any alcoholic beverage, hate beards, and don't even like coffee. I have a teddy bear. (It was a gift!)
The "manly men" have always sort of scared me. I never felt I had anything in common with them. Even most of the guys at church talk about hunting, fishing, golfing, football, baseball..... the things that both bore me and I associate with bullying and getting picked last for teams.
By the world's standards, I am not a true man. But who came up with this modern idea of what a real man is anyway? Another prayer I have been praying is for God to make me into the man He wants me to be. As I have been praying that, my view of myself has slowly been changing. I realize real men do cry, real men don't let alcohol and/or drugs hold them captive. Real men say no to temptation and refuse to do what the Bible says is wrong. Real men are gentle and kind.
Real men pray and realize they can't do it alone. They need God.
As I have prayed and thought about these things, I am finally coming to the realization that I am more of a man than I ever thought I was. God is helping me see that these traits I have viewed as weaknesses are not weaknesses after all, but strengths and things God can use to make me a better man and Christian.
I don't have to like sports and hunting. I don't have to be interested in the Super Bowl. I don't have to change my hobbies and interests. I just have to be the man God wants me to be.
Jesus wept, and so can I.