The masculine stereotype demands that men are healthy, strong, and self-sufficient. Admissions of weakness are seen as contradictions of manliness. Yet listen to these findings by Dr. David Forrester: ·By age six, boys perceive themselves less vulnerable to illness and injury than girls.·Men experience more accidental injuries and coronary artery disease than women.·Men die more frequently than women from an array of respiratory illnesses.·A higher proportion of men suffer from physical limitations due to chronic conditions.·Men engage in more physical activities characterized by risk, aggression, and violence than do women.·The average women will outlive the average man by seven to eight years.·And yet, men see physicians less often, take fewer days off from work, and spend less time convalescing in bed than women!Men are expected to be rough-and-tumble, which exposes them to heightened potential for illness and injury. The expectation to be competitive and self-reliant discourages any admission of weakness or incapacitation. Therefore, countless men everyday deny their ailments, ignore medical care, and disregard time they need to recover from sickness and injury. Men, part of coming to terms with what it means to be a man requires coming to terms with your physical limitations and weaknesses. The myth that men are physically invulnerable is dangerous. Have you bought into this masculine stereotype?
Masculine mythologies affect our emotions. From their earliest years boys are warned against being sissies or crybabies. They’re encouraged to be tough. Displays of emotion, and often affection, are for girls. “Your sister can hug and kiss Grandpa,” many tough, World War II fathers said, “but you’re a man, so you just shake his hand.”
A friend of mine grappled with this myth when his best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “When I found out about Eric’s condition,” he reflected, “I was calm and collected on the outside. I kept my emotions well hidden. But on the inside I was falling apart…I knew Eric was in for a struggle. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him I loved him. But I had all my years as a tough, strong man working against me. If Eric had been a girl, I wouldn’t have had a problem sharing my feelings…But since Eric was a man, everything inside me told me that is was inappropriate for me to express my affection to him.”
Fortunately Eric recovered and my friend was able to tell him face-to-face that he loved him. But he had to do some growing up before he was ready to do so.
Men, your emotions aren’t signs of weakness. They’re natural, normal human expressions. When you deny or suppress them you’re not being manly—actually just the opposite is true. Believe me, real men can and do cry!
A lot of people, especially Christians, have a great deal of trouble with the fact that Jesus got angry. It’s not so difficult to say that His cleansing of the temple was “righteous indignation.” But it’s quite another thing to admit that the Son of God, the perfect man, was angry; for everybody knows that anger is a sin, right?
This misunderstanding of anger has caused many men to push their anger out of bounds in another direction—denying it, suppressing it, or pretending it isn’t there. They feel they have no other choice, because in their thinking it’s always wrong, always sinful, to be angry. But guys, suppressed anger is just as harmful to an angry man as explosive hostility and aggression are to those around an angry man.
Jesus didn’t deny or suppress His anger any more than He exploded with rage that day in the Temple. His anger was up-front and out in the open. He responded to the situation quickly, positively, and appropriately. Then He went on with His ministry—without apology, excuse, or remorse.
Men if you have the tendency to deny your anger and bury it inside yourself, please listen to me. You’re only storing up pressure for a later implosion or explosion. The implosion hurts you; the explosion hurts others. It’s a lose—lose situation. If you don’t bring your anger to the surface and deal with it, someday, somewhere, somehow it’ll express itself in an out of bounds manner.