Updated: Sep 30, 2019
This month? It's me and you.
That's right. You.
To the guy who has been fighting the battle in his mind for weeks without anyone noticing.
To the man who has been beating himself up over a mistake he made years ago.
To the boy who has been wondering why he seems to be every girl's second choice.
To the guy who is too ashamed to admit he needs help.
To the one who's about to give up.
This is for you.
Because, you know what?
Your manhood and all of the pain, emotions, and thoughts in between exist at the same time within the same space.
And, you want to know something else?
They're not meant to be separated, and therefore, aren't at risk of canceling each other out. Even a man has to cry out. A boy has got to be reminded that he's handsome too. We can't keep the pep talks exclusively for girls anymore. You boys hurt too, and that's alright.
So, to every dad, brother, son, boyfriend, and husband who is trying to convince themselves that emotions, honesty, and reassurance are just for girls, I want to interrupt your way of thinking with this:
You hurt just as much as we do. All of the pain we girls feel at times is the same pain you feel too.
And, I'm not just talking physical pain. Mental and emotional pain, as well.
In fact, the truth is that "over 6 million men suffer from depression per year," according to Mental Health America, Inc. and "in 2017, men died by suicide 3.54x more often than women," according to American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
"You mean she actually did research about this?" you may be asking yourself.
You bet. I'm not taking this blog post lightly.
And, I think it's time to talk about why those are such scary statistics, starting with this one suggestion:
WE DON'T TALK ABOUT IT.
(We—meaning—you and I.)
And, the researchers over at Mental Health America, Inc. suggest it's our reluctance to talk about this that makes men less likely to reach out and seek help.
In case you didn't realize: THIS IS A HUGE ISSUE.
But, some people wouldn't even give this topic a second thought because of how much we reserved it for the girls. (We, meaning, you and I...but especially me.)
Battling my low self-esteem as a twelve-year-old girl and, for the most part, being around other female friends who had the same insecurity issues as I did, I thought this was just a girl thing—that only girls look in the mirror and hate the way they looked, fall into depression, and get their heart broken.
But, you know what? That's a bunch of bull.
BOYS HURT TOO.
It just may not be expressed in the way most women would.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men who deal with depression appear to come off as "angry, irritable, or aggressive," making it harder to recognize that their hostility is really a cry out for help. Not only that, but I have often seen masculinity associated with this type of behavior—being angry, belligerent, etc.—and written off as normal.
Now, I can't speak for all girls, but from personal observation, I think a little bit of that is our fault.
I can recall some interesting conversations I've had with girls my age where some admitted to thinking that it's sexy when you get angry. Like, wow, I love how his veins just about pop right out of his neck when he's mad!
I mean, WHAT!?
Don't get me wrong. I'm guilty of this too! The "bad boy" image has sold very well in the past, and some girls—including myself—have kept it in business.
As I hope you can forgive us, I think it's about time for that entire concept to declare bankruptcy.
Wouldn't you agree?
So, let's start canceling this today. The fact that you are a boy, or a man, doesn't mean you have to stifle back tears, shrug away heartbreak, act as if you're alright, or like something doesn't bother you to prove your manhood, nor do you have to punch a hole in the wall when you're upset as a way to stop yourself from "crying like a girl." It is normal and healthy to show emotion, to admit that you need help and reach out for it. It's okay to cry on someone's shoulder. It's okay to be vulnerable!
How do I know?
Because the Bible makes this very clear through the writings of a man named David.
No worries if you're unfamiliar with the story, but perhaps you've heard about David and Goliath?
Here's what happened in summary:
Goliath—a nine foot giant—constantly threatened and harassed David's people, the Israelites. David, being the youngest of seven boys, and therefore, mostly overlooked compared to the rest of his brothers, wasn't going to let Goliath terrorize his people any longer. So, with his heart pure and his faith in God, he challenged Goliath, and, with one stone, killed Goliath, and later on in 2 Samuel, you'll read about him becoming king of Israel.
In other words, David was not a wimp. He was a victor—a champion! Not only that, but the Bible lets us know in 1 Samuel 16 that he was... charming!
It describes David in verse 12 as "ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features." Later, a servant describes David in verse 18 as "a brave man and a warrior" and that "he speaks well and is a fine-looking man."
To emphasize my point further, David was the type of man women drool over. And how could they not? He was fine and faith-filled. Yet, even with all of his strength, valor, and victory, I find him to be one of the most vulnerable men in the Bible.
Let's take a look together, shall we?
Reading through the book of Psalms, you'll find King David expressing his need for God, a savior, a friend many times. You'll see how
1) he went to God for protection "I am in pain and distress;
may your salvation, O God, protect me." Psalms 69:29
2) how he needed to be heard "Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me." Psalms 31:2
3) how he felt alone
"Look to my right and see;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life."
4) how he couldn't depend on himself
"Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay."
5) how he was tempted to give up
"For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me."
6) how he needed help
"But you, O Lord, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me."
7) how he was overwhelmed "For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me."
SO: If that man, as attractive, strong, and successful as he was, can crouch down in a fetal position and cry out for help to his God,
YOU CAN TOO.
YOU can admit that you need Him.
YOU can confess your weaknesses.
YOU can be honest when you mess up.
Yes, sir! YOU.
David was as manly as any man gets, but it did not and never had deprived him of his right to be vulnerable.
And, I need for every boy and every man reading this to understand that the same goes for you.
Your pain, your tears, your emotions are normal. Even further, they matter. Your masculinity does not disqualify you from being vulnerable. Nor does it rule out your need to be encouraged.
So, hey! Let me encourage you.
You are loved. You are seen. You are heard. You are worth it. When God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, He was thinking of you. He knows you're a big deal because He made you. And because He made you, you are handsome. You are a warrior. You are brave. And all of the social norms that have been telling you that crying is just for girls, that reaching out for help is weak, or—even worse—that God does not want to be bothered with your pain are sad, sorry, and stupid lies.
If God was there for King David in his weakness, He's more than willing to be there with you too.
In fact, David will tell you himself exactly where God was in the midst of his pain.
Let's recall together:
"For He [GOD] has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help."
"I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me;
God sends his love and his faithfulness."
"You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you."
"Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my
with your right hand you save me."