Masculinity has been one of the toughest issues for me to deal with in my entire life. I grew up in a fairly conservative town and at a time when the ideas of masculinity were narrow. My own views of what definied my masculinity were definitely shaped by where I grew up. To me, men were independent, handy, sports-minded, and physically strong. As hard as I tried, I could never achieve these aspects of being masculine. I was always afraid to admit how much I needed others. For the life of me, I couldn’t fix or repair anything around the house or on a car. I’ve only recently become interested in sports, and that was because my boys were into a variety of athletics. I work hard at being physically strong because that’s the only thing that I feel that I can achieve.
However, I realize that I eliminate a great many men who I respect and care for if I hold fast to those strict confines of masculinity. I still need others a great deal, but I find masculinity much more achievable when I hang out with and have close friendships with my other male friends. I may not ever be handy, but I certainly can call on those guys in my life that are, which again builds a great network of friendship. It also appeals to our innate need to be needed by others. I’ll probably never understand everything about sports, but again, hanging out with my friends and watching a game is much more enjoyable than trying to figure it all out by myself.
Not only that, but I’ve found that the manliest men are kind, good-hearted, compassionate, nurturing, encouraging, and the list goes on. I’m finding that being a man is more about figuring yourself out and being responsible enough to live out those qualities that God has blessed you with. Being a man is needing someone else because there are certain things you lack, but also being needed by another because you have something they don’t have. Being a man is a willingness to connect with others, a willingness to complement one another, and a willingness to fulfill what you believe your calling is for others. There’s a lot more to being a man than I ever thought there was. And thank God that I have other men in my life who are helping me along with this particular part of my journey.