Real Men Weep

from destinme via Flickr
from destinme via Flickr

Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. Genesis 43:30 (NLT)

“Big boys don’t cry,” many of us were told when we were young. Boys are supposed to be strong and fearless. We’re supposed to hold our emotions in check. At least, I know that has been the generalized sentiment I’ve both experienced and witnessed. I’m not even sure that it’s a conscious and overt message for many. It’s just the message our culture has sent and believed. I can still remember seeing my dad cry for the first time. It made such an impression on me I can recall almost every detail of the moment.

I find it interesting that Joseph hurried from the room each time he became emotional. Of course, he did not want to tip his hand and reveal himself to his brothers before he had a chance to work his plan. Nevertheless, I would tend to believe that the culture of Egypt was not that much different than our own in that regard. It would likely be seen as a sign of weakness.

The further I get on life’s road and the the deeper I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the more I feel, identify and express my emotions. When I was younger I would brood and act out in all sorts of ways, completely unaware of the emotions that were seeping to the surface in my words and actions. I can recall going through a period of time in my thirties when I literally experienced Ezekiel 36:26:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

God took me through a stretch of the journey in which there was an uncorking of emotions that I’d been stuffing my whole life. I learned to feel, identify and express things like anger, disappointment, fear, joy, contentment, and satisfaction in meaningful and healthy ways. In the midst of it, I learned to weep and to experience the healing of spirit, soul and body that comes when you can feel strong emotion and let the tears roll.

I’ve come to embrace the truth of Ecclesiastes 3, that there is a time for everything. I believe for all men there is a time and place for utilizing our God given bent towards controlling emotions in order to accomplish a difficult task and persevere through certain circumstances. But this does not mean that it’s necessary or particularly healthy to dam up our emotions all of the time. There is time for controlling emotion, and there is a time for expressing them. Maturity comes with the wisdom to know the difference.

Do a keyword search for the word “wept” in God’s Message and you’ll find a long list of manly men throughout antiquity who wept openly as Joseph did in today’s chapter. Jesus Himself is among them. I’ve come to learn in this life: Real men weep.

9 thoughts on “Real Men Weep”

  1. I’ve never been much of a cryer. A few of my friends call me a robot when we watch chick flicks because while they’re all snatching tissues, I’m dry-eyed and calm, not because I’m trying to be, but because it just didn’t elicit the same reaction.
    But I think a lot of my lack of emotiveness (is that a word?) stems from my parents’ divorce. I was extremely young when it happened, and with all the tension I chose to only cry in private, and that only rarely.
    I think often times it’s more than just not wanting others to see us as weak, it’s also that we don’t trust others with our emotions, especially if they’re vulnerable emotions. For years, I wouldn’t even cry at church, where we should be most comfortable to do so. I finally went through a time where I prayed for God to soften my heart to cry, and one day He did. I was on stage leading worship at the time, so He certainly wasn’t gentle about it, but I’m glad to be able to cry now, for myself and for others.

    1. Thanks for sharing the story. Obviously, God creates us all with different personality bents and emotional temperaments. I think that His design is for all of us to feel and express emotions in honest and healthy ways, even though the way they are felt and expressed may be unique to each individual creation.

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