The Desire to be a Man

Some videos just know how to get you, you know?

You’re just watching this thing and then all of a sudden you’re crying or you’re mad or you’re ready to go charge the enemy. They just know how to twist that one emotion inside of you that’s aching to come out.

That happened to me the other day while watching a commercial for a knife company. A freaking commercial. Watch it below.

Obviously they are trying to advertise for their company and sell you a knife or two. But the story they are telling isn’t just about a knife. They are reaching for something primal. Something deep within. Much more than just “buy a knife,” I think what they were really saying was:

“If you have one of our knives, you can be a man like the men we’re showing you in this video. You see these men? These are MEN. If you have a knife like they do then you could be a man too.”

That speaks to me. It speaks to a core desire I have within me. I want to be a man. Many times I don’t know how, but the “want” is there nonetheless.

What that video said to me was that they know the secret to being a man. And they will sell it to me.

So now I want a knife.

Not because I need one. I literally have no reason for buying or carrying a knife. I’m a web developer and a writer for goodness sakes. I work on lines of code all day. I write words in my spare time. What could I possibly need a knife for?

I want this knife … no, I need this knife because something deep inside of me is calling out to be a man.

At the end of the day, it’s not the about the knife at all. It’s about the desire to be a man.

I think just about every man, if he were to dig deep down inside himself, would say that he has a desire to be a man. To be able to stand up and do what men do. But I think there are two things standing in the way.

What is the Definition of a “Man”?

One is that we don’t have any earthly clue what “being a man” means. We get mixed messages from the world around us. We get messages “from men for men” and “from women for men” and they couldn’t be further from each other. Like complete opposite poles.

Is it the burly bearded guy who knows how to work on cars and can build things with his hands? Or is it the guy who is in touch with his emotions and can be emotionally present in relationships?

Men say “Hunt. Fish. Wear flannel. Bleed.” Women say “Sit still. Don’t get so dirty. Be careful. Don’t play with guns. Or axes. Or anything that might hurt people.”

Men say you’re not a man unless you can start a fire, fix a sink, or win in business (wearing that suit and power tie, you dapper man you). Women say men should be more like women.

Which one is it? We don’t know. And that’s the problem.

Where is Our Heart?

The second thing is that even if we did know the definition of “manhood”, we’ve hidden our hearts so far down and away from us that we couldn’t do anything with it if we wanted to.

When we watch videos like the one for the knife company, there is something inside of us that stirs. A little inkling of something dangerous inside of us that brings an emotion we’re not familiar with. I don’t think I could name it. But for just a brief moment something is there that isn’t usually there. And it scares us. What was that? Where did it come from? I better hide it before someone else sees it and accuses me of being too macho or tries to insult me for being “manly.”

So we do. We push our hearts further down and try to hide anything even remotely resembling manhood - by whatever definition we use to define it.

We don’t know what our hearts are telling us because we don’t know where our hearts have gone. They’ve been hidden and starved. They’ve been stolen. They’ve left the building.

If we had our hearts perhaps we could process what we’re experiencing. But we don’t. We’ve been told that we can’t be vulnerable so we push our hearts down a little. We’ve been told we can’t cry. So our hearts go a little deeper. We’ve been chastised for being too loud, or brash, or wild. In response we stand up on top of our hearts and jump on it, shoving it down as far as it will go.

Things just seem to go smoother when we don’t bring our hearts into our life. Less people get hurt. Less arguments abound. These are true. But also … less life happens. Less living from the thing we were meant to live from and more deadness of our souls.

We need our hearts if we’re ever going to understand this desire deep within us to be a man.

I Know Nothing

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even really know where to begin. But I am going on a journey. To discover the heart of what it means to be a man. To find where my heart went and how to get it back. To learn what we think a man is and then to relearn what God says a man is. Then to see if I can’t put some of that into practice in my own life. Intentionally.

Maybe I’m just getting old. I’m past 45 now so maybe this is just a mid-life crisis. Like I should be further along in “manhood” at this point. But I don’t think so. This is a question I think a man of any age would ask … or better, is asking. I hope we can all figure it out together.