What is a real man? It is the question my Men in the Bible class at school spend a whole semester answering. It is the question behind so much of my own sadness and confusion. For I have looked in all the wrong places for an answer.
I have looked to sports. Maybe if I excelled at a sport, it would make me feel like a man. So much of the energy behind my running has been because of this.
I have looked to different activities. Maybe if I learned to hunt or fly-fish or run a marathon, that would make me feel like a man. But my attempts at these things never answered the question.
I have looked to physical strength. Maybe if I lifted weights or got a ripped physique or did hard workouts, maybe all of these would make me feel like a man. How many times have I looked at myself in the mirror bare-chested wondering if I had it?
I have looked to outward appearance. Maybe if I got a certain haircut or wore certain type clothes, it would make me feel like a man. Maybe if I grew a beard or a goatee. But trying all of these never got me any closer.
I have also looked to success. So much of the pressure I felt as a pastor, a teacher, and a coach came out of this. Even after I got really successful, I remember feeling that this wasn’t it either. In fact being a success only made things worse. Now that I had hit a home run, I felt pressured to do it every time I got up to bat.
What had developed was a deep fault line in my heart, a crack in the very foundation. And I could never get the crack to close. It just got wider and wider, opening up an abyss of darkness. I compulsively kept searching for some way to close it, but nothing helped.
So I did what I have come to believe all men do. I learned to fake it. I hid my deepest questions and fears, terrified that at any moment that I could be discovered as a fraud. But at age 35, with a wife and two children, my long-term struggle with depression began to shut me down. I knew something had to change. The 12 year-old boy in me had to find a way out. My marriage, my family, my future was at stake.
How did I find my way to manhood? Read my next blog on Monday.