Are you man enough? – thoughts on being a ‘real man/woman’, high expectations and Tiffany rings.

I’ve written on a similar vein before, which likely indicates it’s where my heart is. I hope you’ll forgive any repetition from previous posts.

These two videos gave me some inspiration for this post:

http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-absolutely-wrong-with-what-we-do-to-boys-before-they-grow-into-men

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAe5ULE8n_4

They’re not too long- I really recommend giving them both a watch because it will give you a background to where I’m going with this.

The first highlights the damage done when the phrase ‘be a man’ gets twisted; the second urges men to step up, but it’s coming from a completely different worldview. And it might sound harsh, but I agree with him.

Among my generation particularly, I think there’s some confusion, about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

We know there’s a problem, but I’m not convinced we get the whole picture. On one hand, we want to go back fifty years. We want men to act more like men and women to be more feminine, but in doing this we tend to only focus on the arbitrary and the superficial. On the other hand, we strive for gender equality, yet sometimes we think that means ironing out any distinction between the sexes.

All over the internet, it’s a war between chivalry and feminism. ‘A real man holds doors open for women and blah blah blah’. I’m tired of the Tiffany ring culture; the comparisons with fictional men from Austen to John Green. While having low standards is equally damaging, it’s disturbing to me that so many hold this picture of the ‘ideal boyfriend’ fulfilling all of the criteria on a very demanding checklist. Such expectations are unreasonable and unfair, and will never do anything for you except lead you to disappointment and resentment.  

When I do see women being encouraged to keep their own moral standards high, I’m not sure the motives are always pure. It seems to me that nowadays, having a high standard for yourself is more about feeling superior to others, rather than blessing others.

I don’t know about you but I’m bored with the James Bond ideal. The gratuity of violence and brutality that dominates our cinema screens is frankly sickening. Hate to break it to you, but I don’t think real heroism has anything to do with being a spy, a wrestling champion or a superhero. I can’t tell you what I think a ‘real man’ is, because I’m not a man. But the men I’ve known who I consider to be good role models don’t conform to one generic mould. They do share the qualities of genuine respect, responsibility and compassion, though. I think that’s a lot more attractive than some of the ideals society upholds.

The same thing applies to women; if you don’t fit into society’s mould, you’re in good company!

But we don’t truly believe that, so we try to make sense of these conflicting ideals. We strive to assume some of the traits we’re told are desirable; essential, even. We think we’re more likely to ‘make it’ that way.

We all wear masks to a greater or lesser extent because in some way, shape or form, we’re still told that we’re not enough. Then we’re surprised when others don’t like or accept us more, after we’ve done everything we thought we had to do to gain validity.

Our measuring tool for success, beauty, popularity and worth is pretty limited. But, here’s the truth: your achievements in life will never matter as much as your heart.

You’ll never find true identity in the world’s understanding of the word. But God’s way is completely contrary.

He knew you before you were even conceived. He knows everything about you. (Psalm 139). He knows how many hairs are on your head.

He says you are enough. He sees every flaw and shortcoming and loves you immeasurably. He also sees the goodness you strive for in your own capabilities, and He isn’t one little bit impressed, because He is Holy- the only one without sin. Guess what? He still loves you immeasurably. He just wants you to know Him and find out who He intended you to be.

Your identity is founded in grace.

Grace empowers you to be what you could never be on your own; to fulfil your potential to be a great you, in order to bring out greatness in others.

Let me just clarify that I do think men and women are supposed to have some differences. I’m not going to list examples because it’s so easy to take them out of context and twist them into something I didn’t intend, but I just feel like this point is important. God created men and women as distinct from one another, but not to cause inequality, abuse of power or envy. The qualities that are more prevalent in one sex are there to complement the other. I think these differences should be celebrated, but not exaggerated and twisted, which is extremely damaging.

So, final thoughts. You are not a victim. When you know who you really are, you can rise above the world’s definitions.

You are more than enough. You are a son or a daughter of the Living God.

Much love.

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