Being a daring guy, I thought this month we would all look together at a topic all men experience, but few like to admit or discuss. What is this topic? Emotions.
That’s right, I dared to say the “E” word in an article for men. For too long, men have believed the cultural lie that men don’t cry, men don’t express feelings or emotions, and men don’t talk. That is hogwash! If we are to become godly men, we have to express our emotions. After all, our big brother, our role-model, Jesus, felt emotions all the time.
I dare any man to read the Bible and tell me Jesus was not emotional. I am sure Jesus laughed deeply from His belly, how could He not when one of His closest friends was Peter! I bet Jesus doubled over at some of the stuff Peter and the other disciples popped up with as they traveled from place to place.
Jesus cried. We see Jesus cry over the death of His friend, Lazarus. We see Him have tears over Jerusalem because He knew what their future held after they killed Him.
Jesus had compassion. He was moved to compassion when He saw a widow burying her only son. He had compassion on possessed people and He set them free. His heart broke for the downtrodden and forgotten people of His time.
Jesus got angry. On 2 separate occasions, He whipped the tar out of the money changers who were defiling His Dad’s House. He got angry at the way the Pharisees abused the people they “ministered” to on a daily basis.
Jesus expressed love. The Gospels say He loved the rich young ruler. He loved his parents. He showed love to who came in contact with Him.
Jesus needed people. He always took time be alone in prayer, but the rest of His time was spent with people. He had friends. He enjoyed a good meal among these friends. He gathered people around Him. He was vulnerable, open, and honest. He let people know the real Jesus.
As men looking to become like Jesus, we need to do the same. I was reminded of this by a friend of mine. This friend was telling me about a work God did in his life. He was now able to laugh, cry, and experience emotions without shame. He said it was the greatest experience of his life! He said he would do a back flip if he knew how! As he spoke, I rejoiced with him, because I knew exactly what he meant.
You see, as a child, I learned to kill my emotions. The abuse I received from my Dad growing up made me crawl inside of myself and keep everything inside. I never let anyone know what I was thinking or feeling. I suppressed everything inside. I continued this behavior into my adult years.
Then one day the Holy Spirit started working on my heart. He began to show me I was a boiling pot inside and I had to start releasing the steam, not in anger, but in a healthy way. I had to start talking and learning to express my emotions.
It was so hard! I was trained that men don’t talk a lot, and they especially don’t express emotions. However, this is not God’s way of thinking, and I wanted to be a godly man, so I started working on this area.
The key word is work. It didn’t come easy. I had to force myself. I had to make myself talk about what was bothering me. I had to allow tears to flow. I had to allow myself to be vulnerable, and I had to take a chance on other people and how they would react. I had to trust others with my emotions.
Slowly, I began to change. When something hurt me or bothered me, I began talking about it or expressing the pain instead of burying it inside. When I was sad or down, I would express the feelings. When I was happy, I felt free to show it. Tears fell from my eyes for the first time in years. I learned how to properly handle negative emotions like anger or depression in a positive way. I became a healthy, emotional man.
How did I do it? It was all done through God’s power. I daily asked God to heal my emotions and make me into a healthy, emotional man. I asked Him to show me how to express feelings and emotions again. I asked Him for strength to become vulnerable to others. I asked Him to take my cold, unfeeling heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). These are prayers God will happily answer for any man. He answered them in my life, and He will answer them in your life.
However, there is also one more thing you need to receive this gift from God. You can pray prayers all you want, but unless you have a willing spirit to begin expressing emotions, you won’t change.
You have to allow God to give you a heart of flesh. You can’t continue holding everything inside. You can’t keep shutting out those around you. God can only heal you as much as you will allow yourself to be healed. It is not magical; it requires participation on your part. But if you are willing, God is willing, too. He will change you. How do I know this?
I know this because it happened in my life. Just recently, I had a REALLY bad day. I was crushed by something a trusted person did to me. However, instead of crawling inside of myself and burying it, I was able to talk, express my pain, get all the garbage out of me, and move past it. I was only able to do it through the power of God! God heard my prayer, and He set me free. To God be the glory!!
God did it inside of me, He did it inside of my friend, He has done it inside of many men, and He will do it inside of you! All He needs is a man who is willing to allow Him to do it. My challenge to you this month is this…Are you willing?
Will you allow God to heal your emotions?
Will you allow Him to take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh?
Will you let Him release your tear ducts to cry and your heart to feel?
Will you allow Him to show you how to open up and be vulnerable with your spouse, family, and friends?
Do you want to be an emotionally healthy man? Only you can answer these questions, but I hope your answer will be "Yes." Then God can make you want to do back flips from the joy of being an emotionally healthy man.