The ceiling fan in my daughters room hadn’t worked in a while. Well, the fan part worked but the lights didn’t. I know next to nothing about ceiling fans but being “the man of the house” I felt like it was my job to try to fix it.
The first step was to do what any real man would do who had no relevant experience or knowledge about how to fix a thing: Google some relevant terms and watch a number of YouTube videos about how to fix the particular problem.
After doing this I felt pretty confident that I knew what the problem was and how to fix it. All the videos I watched said basically the same thing: “If you’re having this problem, do this and it will be fixed.” Great.
So I did exactly what they described in the videos. I pulled the part of the fan off that needed fixing. I cut and spliced wires. Everything looked just like the videos told me it should. Can you guess what happened when I put it all back together?
Yep. The lights still didn’t work.
Frustrated, but not ready to give up quite yet, I gave it another go. I googled some more. I watched some more videos. I ordered a part from Amazon. I followed the videos and replaced that part just like they said.
It still didn’t work.
So with no other ideas left to try and no where else to go, I reluctantly gave up and ordered a new ceiling fan.
I accepted defeat. I walked away with my tail tucked between my legs. I felt defeated and very much less of a man than I did before I started. If I can’t fix a stupid little ceiling fan, how am I going to rescue my family if they ever needed anything really important? Not being able to fix something as simple as a ceiling fan has me questioning my manhood yet again.
It’s Not Just Ceiling Fans
There are so many places where I don’t feel like I measure up. So many times when I feel like I am failing as a man.
I have a weed eater that won’t start. I have no idea why. And no skillset from which to pull from in order to fix it. So you can almost bet that I’ll just order a new one when I need it.
I want to build a bigger shed so that I have a place to store things (and maybe keep the snakes out). But I have no building skills. I have no idea where to start. I’ll probably just end up ordering one of those prefab ones and have it dropped off. Or … more than likely … I’ll just live with the one I have because who wants to admit they can’t build it themselves?
Oh … and then there are the snakes I just mentioned. I hate the snakes. Why do we have snakes? Why am I afraid of them? Why can’t I just “man up”?
No Retreat, No Surrender
And there it is right there. Why can’t I just “man up”? When life calls for me to be a man, I retreat. It’s easier for me to play video games or eat or read comic books then it is to learn and lean into what it means to be a man.
Again, I’m not just talking about ceiling fans here. This is in pretty much every area that requires something of me. I mean sure, it’s in the fixing things I have no idea how to fix. There are parts of life that just call for a man to step up and do something. And it’s in those moments where I feel like I fail all the more. I run when I should step in.
Why do I retreat? Men, why do we run when we’re called up to something higher?
There are many reasons we don’t feel like men. I think a lot of them come down to things that feel a lot like incompetence. “I don’t know how to do this or that” but feeling like we should.
We most feel like men, like we have it all together and are at the top of our game when we know what we’re doing.
Men in Media
There are 2 types of men I see portrayed in media. There are those men that don’t know what they’re doing. These are the men that are on the sitcoms we watch. They are the ones that get made fun of for their incompetence. We laugh at them because they don’t know what they’re doing but deep down we realize we are those men.
The second type of man you see is the “man’s man”. The man who actually has the “know how” to do just about anything. They can fix a sink, dig and pour footers for a building, and raise animals. They love their wives, spend all their time with their kids, have enough money to take vacations and live in giant homes and never have to worry about budgets. They do all of this while still getting 8 hours of sleep a night, finding time to look like a Greek god, and hang out with the boys for poker night every week.
This is the example we’re meant to strive to, isn’t it? So it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that to be a man of any value (and to not get laughed at) we need to be this way too.
Even David, the “man after God’s own heart” in the Bible, could write songs, lead armies and countries, and knows how to take care of flocks and herds … killing lions and bears with his hands.
Let’s be honest: I can’t sing, I’ve never really led much of anything, we have a dog that doesn’t really listen, and the last thing I killed was probably a fruit fly.
How can any guy measure up?
I think it’s best if we just take off the mask, put away the pretense and come out with it right now:
That will never be us. At least, that will never be me.
And that’s okay.
I don’t have to be able to do all those things in order to be a man. I don’t have to know how to fix a ceiling fan. I don’t have to know how to raise herds. I don’t have to know how to fix my car.
What you see portrayed in front of you as a “man” is really more a myth. It’s Hollywood. It’s someones dream of what a man should be. It’s not real.
I don’t think they exist.
So What Do We Do?
I think where we start … what’s important right from the beginning is that I listen to God and follow Him into what He has for me “as a man.”
Since the dawn of time God has been offering us an invitation to follow Him into masculinity. It looks different for each of us. There’s no one size fits all way to be a man. But I think we find it when we open our hands, our hearts, and our lives to God and ask Him to father us and show us how to be a man.
I could be terribly wrong. Remember, this is a journey. We’re headed into unknown territory. There might be twists and turns in the path. We might get a little lost and need to backtrack. All of that is okay.
But I think if we’re going on a journey to manhood then that’s where it starts. It’s been my experience that it’s always a good idea to start with God.
If you’re struggling with what it looks like to be a man, may I humbly suggest that you start by asking God what manhood looks like for you and asking Him to father you. I think we’ll all learn some pretty important stuff as we surrender our idea of manhood to what God says it is. I hope you’ll join me and head out on the journey.