The Emotions of a Man
From the time we are young, boys are told that "crying is for girls", and that we need to "pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get over it". However, what we (and most parents for that matter) don't realize is that we are setting our boys up for emotional issues later on. We are teaching them to deny their innermost and completely normal emotions.
It is nothing for a boy to be seen crying after scraping a knee on the playground only to have others stare, laugh, tease, and taunt them with "Oh look at that sissy! He's crying!" Right then, somewhere deep inside the young boy, something snaps and he decides that was the last time anyone sees him cry. We are reinforced by seeing nothing but anger, discipline, and toughness from our fathers and other men in our life. We are told that we must like manly things such as football, wrestling, working on cars, and being outdoors. Classical music, golf, tennis, operas, theatre, cooking, and dance are seen as "weenie" things to be interested in. If we like those things, there must be something wrong. This only helps to fuel the suppression of our natural emotions even further down inside. Only after growing into a man does the young boy realize the emotions he stored for such a long time fuel a fire that is consuming him from the inside.
The Consuming Fire
The Consuming Fire
What is happening on the inside is a fire that has been raging for so long that all that comes out is anger. Frustration and discipline come out as anger, even hurt, pain, crying, and sadness do too. The man distances himself from anyone and everyone, afraid that everyone is out to humiliate him. Therefore, he only shows anger and keeps himself distanced from anyone remotely close. He hides away in work, alcohol, food, pornography, sex, excessive manliness, and anything he can in order to keep people from getting too close. When they do get too close, he immediately pushes them right back out the way they came in. Even with his guy friends it is a competition to see who's the manliest.
What the man doesn't realize is that he is being consumed by a fire. This fire rages on and as long as he suppresses it, he will continue to wallow in depression, self-loathing, self-hatred and possibly even entertain thoughts of suicide too. He sinks further down into whatever addictions are eating at him thinking this is what he needs in order to be happy. What he doesn't realize is the thing he needs is the thing he hides away from the most. Love.
The Love We Need
The Love We Long For
Yes, it sounds corny and laughable at first, but love is the key to all the problems of a man who is suppressing his emotions. Not just any love, but the love of a Savior who gave everything - even his life - in order for you to live in love, forgiveness and happiness. Even then, to grasp ahold of the concept of this love is very difficult. It is unfamiliar and very unsettling. Only after being truly confronted with the Risen Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior, and truly turning to Him for the answers we seek to resolve a broke life, does He truly answer those calls.
When Christ does answer in the due time we need in order to process it all, we are flooded with emotions that have been locked away deep inside for years - perhaps even decades. When we find the love we long for, crying seems to be the only thing we can do for a period of time. It is a period of time we need in order to readjust to the idea of crying again. Showing emotion to those around us is uncomfortable, but in time, becomes comfortable again. Joy, love, and peace once again find the man as he ousts the old crusty ways of his former self. But what's more is the love we long for could have been found near to us the whole time.
Christ is always ready and available to accept us - if only we would turn to Him. He would show us the immense love He has - such as can be found in John 3:16-17, 16 “For God loved the world in this way:He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.". Not only this, but we find that in Deuteronomy 31:8, "8 The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” We find that not only does He promise this for our future, but has been there pursuing us all along. 1 John 4:17-19 says, "17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us." Did you also notice what this verse also says? Not only was God pursuing us, but perfect love will drive out fear - which by the way is what motivates men to abandon their innermost emotions.
The Emotions of a Man
Only a man truly in touch with the full range of emotions within a man, can be the Godly man Christ models for us. Even Christ wept; He wept as He came into the city of Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-42, "41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." and again in John 11:35, in regards to Lazarus, "Jesus wept." By far the shortest verse in the Bible, we see that Christ identifies with us in our human emotions as well as being the fullness of God too. Jesus knew the suffering of physical pain. He knew what it was like to be tired, hungry, cold and hot.
Jesus wept for Lazarus in John 11 because humans were never meant to die. We were meant to live in paradise with God forever, but that all changed when Adam sinned in Genesis 3. Sin came into the world and as a result, death did too. We were never meant to know the suffering, pain, and anguish we feel. As men, we were never meant to feel the despair of suppressed emotions. We were never meant to feel ridicule, shame and guilt. Freedom can only come from one source, Jesus Christ and only through Him can we be free. Romans 8:1-2 says it best, "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Freedom. Yes, my friend, you are free if you are willing to accept it. You can be freed of the prison of anger, resentment, and fear. You are free to feel the emotions God has blessed us with. Only by living in relationship with Christ, can freedom truly ring.
If you know anyone who is suffering like this, please, encourage them with love. Be patient with them, knowing that what they truly need is love. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the love and patience of my wife and family, helping me through the emotional turmoil of uncovering my long lost emotions. Don't let a man you love sink in the bottomless pit of living with suppressed emotions. It can and will save his life in more ways than one.
**For more application on anger, see the video below of a sermon I did a few years ago.