Not long ago, I attended a marriage seminar that said that men are being told to be too soft; too in touch with their feelings. What I heard the leader saying was that men needed man up, stop following our feelings, and do what is right. I agree in almost every sense, except that I don’t believe that our feelings are inherently evil. I just wonder how many in the room voiced agreement with what the leader said out of a desire to assure themselves that they were supposed to continue running headlong into life by themselves. So many people, including myself, at times, feel isolated, scared, and too insecure to reach out for help.
Today, I got home from work and was met at my car by my son, Gavriel. I asked, “Did Mom already get the mail?” He didn’t know, so I said, “Well, let’s go check,” and I reached my hand out to my side. He took it without a word and we began to walk together to the mailbox. I will always reach for my sons’ hands.
The day that I stop reaching out for my son’s hand will likely be the day that he stops taking it. Perhaps, in a time of desperation or excitement, he might grab my hand and tug at me, but when it comes to just being together, hanging out, walking from Point A to Point B, if I don’t foster the desire to physically connect Father and Son, we just won’t at some point. I don’t want to be responsible for that disconnect.
I want my 4 boys to grow up knowing that I’m there for them. They need to know that they are not alone in this world and that it’s okay to reach out for help.
It’s okay for men to connect on an emotional level, whether it’s to hang out, or to share joy or pain. Ironically, it’s generally socially acceptable in the U.S.A. for “bros” to hug briefly as long as they disengage quickly, giving each other the obligatory three-pat on the back. But in reality, hearts are rarely shared; the conversation hardly ever going deeper than pleasantries that mask deeper struggles.
The same problem exists for women today, not out of a sense of machismo, but because society tells women that success means “having it all” without a hair out of place. There’s a pressure to project an effortless and care-free perfection. It’s just not realistic, and it leads to women being isolated because they don’t feel that they can connect before they have achieved this perfection for fear of being judged. This kind of solitude is not healthy whether you’re a man or a woman.
Jesus sought solitude occasionally, but for the most part, it was to spend time with his Father God. He didn’t eat the last supper alone. When he was about to be arrested (Matthew 26), he surrounded himself with men and asked them to stay awake and pray. He didn’t say, “I got this. Catch ya later.”
Jesus taught Peter faith by beckoning him to come out to him, walking on water (Matthew 14), and when Peter’s faith faltered, Jesus strengthened him by taking him by the hand. Putting our faith in God means humbling ourselves and relying on the Father.
Jesus explained to religious leaders who were criticizing him (John 5) that he only lived the way he did, doing the things he was doing because the Father was leading him. His relationship with the Father gave him direction and identity.
Loving the world around us means being tender-hearted and unconditionally loving. It’s hard to do this when we separate ourselves from the people around us, trudging along on our own. The works of our hands, no matter how intelligent, strong, or skilled we are, will always pail in comparison as a testament of God’s power in our lives when compared to the works we can do when we give up fear, humble ourselves, and allow his Spirit to work from our hearts. But if our hearts are hardened with pride and fear, we thwart the Spirit’s work.
I am going to give my boys an advantage in their spiritual lives by continuing to demonstrate a Father’s desire to connect with his son. My Heavenly Father certainly wants to connect with me on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis. When I start going it alone, things go sideways in a hurry, and my stress level goes through the roof. That’s not God’s desire. He wants things to go well with me. He wants me to be blessed, and I want my boys to know that from the very beginning. My love for my sons is only exceeded by God’s love for them.