Why Men Must Fight Back Against Shame To Reclaim Our True Identities

Manhood matters.

It matters so much, in fact, that God designed His plan for the world around it. 

Man would care for the world, and the world would care for him. Man would live in intimate relationship with the Creator and would give himself to the world in the form of service. 

But then shame entered the world.

It happened in the Garden of Eden after Adam ate from the only tree God instructed him to avoid. Once Adam realized his vulnerability and nakedness, he sought to hide his mistake from God. 

 

“…I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:10

 

Unlike guilt, which often convinces us to change our behavior, shame tells us that we are inherently bad. According to researcher Brene Brown, shame tells us we can’t change our behavior because the problem is at our very core. Shame identifies the person as bad instead of the behavior.

As it so often does, shame prompted Adam to disconnect from God instead of seeking Him. It led him to cover his mistake instead of confessing it. 

Shame convinced Adam to make himself more acceptable by “covering up.” Adam focused on his image instead of on his heart.  

Later, King David made the same mistake, and it ravaged his entire family. 

Following his extramarital affair with Bathsheba, David discovered that she was pregnant as a result of his indiscretion. To hide his own sin, David tried to convince Bathsheba’s husband to sleep with her. When that didn’t work, David sent him to be killed in battle. 

David initiated a string of actions that served his own purposes at the expense of those around him. Shame prompted King David to hide his mistakes instead of confessing them and trying to make things right. 

Later, when David’s son Amnon engaged in his own brand of sexual sin, shame convinced David to remain silent in the face of his son’s offense.  

Shame rendered David powerless as a father and a king, and it does the same thing to you and me.

Shame convinces us to cover our true selves for fear that we aren’t worthy of love or relationship. Shame convinces us that imperfection is a sign of weakness.

So we cover it all up.

·     We don’t often admit our mistakes.

·     We don’t readily talk about emotion.

·     We rarely ask for help.

·     We fight to maintain control.

Shame convinces men that weakness represents the ultimate masculine flaw; as a result, men should avoid even the appearance of weakness. 

.To accomplish that, men engage in posturing, and we refuse to admit when we struggle. We project confidence even when we don’t feel it, and we fight for control at all cost.

But make no mistake: there is a cost.

We’re numbing ourselves to vulnerability by drinking, chasing women, withdrawing from our families, and going deeper into debt. And because it’s impossible to numb only part of your experience, we’re numbing ourselves to the good stuff, too. 

Our families and our communities need us to let go of false strength and embrace the real thing: the kind of strength Jesus displayed during His time on earth. 

Jesus never feared looking weak, but instead submitted Himself to the will of the Father. He never worried about His image, and He sought only to please God. 

When He struggled, He admitted as much, and He sought help from the Father.

He trusted, He loved, and He served, and He provided the only example of manhood we’ll ever need. 

The world doesn’t know how desperately it needs us to understand manhood. It needs us to be vulnerable, and to love, and to trust, and to serve. It needs us to care for it even as it cares for us.

It isn’t too late to choose differently. The men of Junto Tribe seek to become like the Last Adam and restore our identities and our relationships. 

We’re ditching our false identities and seeking the true ones. We’d love for you to join us on the journey.

 

 

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash