Most of us believe–deep inside–that a real man is supposed to be tough.
We handle whatever comes our way, and we don’t need any help. We won’t give in, and never give up. We are strong and self-reliant, and careful not to let weakness or emotions show. Ever.
That’s what a real man is, so that’s what we want to be. Right?
“Some of what you have been told, learned, and even thought about men has been inaccurate.”
The Bad News
Many men buy into this masculine image. But acting that way covers up, even from ourselves, our real issues. And there are things most men struggle with that they keep hidden from the world.
Whether they realize it or not–many don’t–most men have deeper issues that affect their lives:
- Excessive control, sometimes leading to domineering behavior.
- An insistence on being right, which shows up as egotism and pride.
- Inner anger that we sometimes use on others when we get frustrated.
- Outward confidence we utilize to cover up our feelings of inadequacy.
- An identity defined by money, power, or position hiding our loneliness.
But nothing that serious, or real, shows up in our conversations. We talk about work and sports and hobbies. When we get real deep, we ask each how the family is doing. And that’s about it.
“All seem to want to be more than what society has offered us as men.”
The Good News
But there are traditional male qualities that are quite positive, and also accurate. They include attributes such as decisiveness, courage, honor, protectiveness, and a yearning for purpose.
We can use those positive traits to help overcome our issues and become something more. Instead of blindly repeating the same mistakes, we can move past them, by choosing to focus on:
- Finding the wisdom to know when to accept with serenity things we cannot change and when to fight with courage for things we can.
- Self-awareness and humility to admit when we are wrong, and then do something about it.
- Love and forgiveness, as a deliberate choice we make even when we don’t feel like it.
- Acquiring discipline to live intentionally and build positive habits, including spiritual ones.
- Self-sacrifice and service, putting others ahead of ourselves, finding significance as we do.
“You are 100 percent responsible for how you respond to the events in your life.”
How We Get There
Every man’s road to self-actualization and spiritual growth is different.
My first thirty years were mostly positive. Academic success stroked my ego, making money gave me a rush of satisfaction, and professional accomplishment made me proud. At the time.
But, looking back, none of those experiences made me feel like a real man. That came later.
Getting married got me to focus on someone other than me. Having kids forced new responsibility and self-sacrifice. Meeting other men, real men, who loved God opened my eyes. Finding God myself taught me that my identity is given to me, not something I had to earn on my own. And the world of recovery showed me wisdom beyond anything I had encountered before.
Your journey may be different, but our desires are likely similar.
Men yearn for something more, for meaning and purpose, because that is what God wants for us too. And we can find such significance. But not by buying into what the world tells us we are supposed to act like. But by becoming the real man each of us was designed to be.
“We may be on the cusp of a major social evolution in which we are seeing tremendous growth in positive portrayals of men as fathers, spouses, lovers, and friends over the past two decades.”
Question: What type of real man do you want to be?
Action: Take a few minutes to think about the legacy you will leave when you are gone.