So, I was on the phone with my friend, Will, the other day. He’s a good friend that I use to work with. We saw each other almost everyday at the office, hung out, got lunch together, spent hours talking about ministry and our future goals, our families have hung out together, he loves playing with our son, and he’s even come over many times to help me fix a few things around the house.
I haven’t seen him for a few weeks, and I was calling him back about some tickets to a show that he and his wife were going to that night. There came a point in our phone conversation where we just ran out of things to talk about, and there were a few seconds of silence over the phone.
In an effort to be funny, but at the same time, wanting to see if my friend missed me, I asked: “So, ya miss me?”
And immediately, his response was, “I DON’T GET EMOTIONAL LIKE YOU DO!!”
I guess I was asking for it, but still, I was a little hurt by this and the best comeback I could come up with at that moment was, “Jerk! You have emotions you don’t even know about!”
(I don’t know if I was trying to psychoanalyze my friend by saying that he was in denial, or if I was just trying to be mean here. Either way, I totally failed at both, because I felt hurt and I was shootin’ blanks on wit that day. The best way to describe me in that moment was two words: awkward dork.)
This incident reminded me of another.
I was hanging out with Chris, Terrence, and J. Hoang in my living room, talking about their first year of college, when Chris started talking about the college confessions page on their campus.
We began talking about the different kinds of confessions that people were confessing on college campuses nowadays, and some of the ones that we found most interesting were the ones that have to do stereotypes or racial biases. One of the funnier ones that Terrence mentioned was a confession that said, “I’m a Korean guy, and I suck at LOL (League of Legends).” We thought that was hilarious, because that is one of the biggest stereotypes out there today: that most Korean guys are incredibly good, if not amazing, at online gaming.
It made me wonder what a Chinese man’s confession would be, so I said this, just to be funny: “I’m a Chinese man, and I’m okay talking about my feelings.”
We all laughed, because we were all Chinese, and said, “Yeah, that’s a good one.”
If this was a confessions page, I think that would be my confession: I’m a dude, and I like to talk about relational dynamics and feelings, but I’m afraid that the guys can’t handle it and that they might look down on me.
I’m the oddball. If a bunch of my good buddies were swapping big fish stories, I’d be jumping in and asking why we are even swapping stories on who actually caught the biggest fish. I’d be teasing (or calling out) how one of the guys got his feelings hurt earlier and now he’s just trying to one up the other guys just to prove that his manhood is still intact.
I know talking like this throws a lot of people off or make people feel uncomfortable, but I guess I’m tired of the bravado and the pretense that tells me I’m not allowed to be afraid, vulnerable, or have weaknesses.
Perhaps I never saw myself fitting that macho man mold, because I found that my strengths lie outside of what our culture is telling us what being a man is suppose to be. I’m giving myself permission to be how God sees me, and I know the first stop is embracing His love and grace, not my fears and shame. This is what I believe.
Like most myths and stereotypes, they were meant to be broken, and just a few days ago, I was talking with Will over lunch and he actually admitted that he actually keeps his feelings bottled up most of the time.
I just sat there and thinking, “That’s awesome. I shouldn’t stop letting people surprise me.”