When Can A Man Cry?
It’s truly ok to cry… if you know when and you know why?
As a guy I’ve always thought of crying as an overrated function that my body had the ability to perform. To make matters worse, I live in a society where the acceptable reasons for tears streaming down a man’s face are really skewed.
Case and point: Michael Jordan sprawled out on the floor holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy in one arm and a basketball in the other. He’s totally drenched in champagne. You can’t see his face but you can see his back heaving up and down in a pattern that leads you to believe he’s crying a river.
This is part of the media footage that created the frenzy that is the NBA finals 2011. This is how the number 23 Bulls jersey became immortal. This is labeled as proof that M. J. wanted “it” more than anybody else during his era. This is a proud moment for all Chicago-land products and basketball purists alike. This is VICTORY!
But is this it? Is this the REASON to cry?
I spent a solid decade involved in sports non-stop between ten and twenty. During that period, I can’t say that I’ve ever cried in victory. Defeat is another story. Part of this is I’ve hardwired my brain to expect to win if I compete (to explain why I did this is a different conversation for another time). I respect Michael and I totally understand the draw that this image has on sports fans. Yet, the point remains the same: Is this the only acceptable time a MAN can cry and still demand respect?
You can’t cry when you’re hurt physically.
Crying because of pain is nearly forbidden. I’ve dislocated my shoulder at twelve, had bruised ribs at fourteen, a bruised thigh at sixteen, a broken finger and concussion at seventeen… no tears (at least not in public).
You can’t cry when you’re hurt emotionally.
If a woman rips your heart right out of your chest, jumps up and down on it, drops a few elbows on it, and then launches it over a bridge you’re supposed to nod, then turn and walk away as if nothing happened. If your friends ask about it they have every expectation that you’ll smile and say “I never loved her anyway.” But what would happen if you told them the truth? Would the world cease to spin? A man with a broken hear? What? God forbid!
And you seem shocked that women keep outliving us.
I Beg To Differ
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age but I think there are countless reasons when anyone that is human can be overwhelmed with emotions. These emotions can be expressed with yells, cartwheels, laughter, and even tears. It doesn’t have to be grief. It doesn’t have to be emotional turmoil. It doesn’t have to be work or sports related. It doesn’t have to be pain. It doesn’t have to be the death of a loved one. It doesn’t have to be an insurmountable high or an inescapable low.
Crying was always intended to be a source of relief.
These feeble, temporal bodies were never meant to contain all of the joy of the birth of a child. They were never meant to fully comprehend the grace of a perfect sunset. Honestly, these earthen vessels are shadows of the souls they hold. They can only try to embrace the majesty of a divine religious experience.
Finding out my daughter was 100% healthy broke me into a million pieces. Tears were my only answer. At times my faith has moved me to hiccup tears. In short, the number of times I’ve justifiably cried for all the right reasons is starting to add up pretty quickly. Why? I have a greater understanding of how fragile this whole existence is. I also realize just how little of my world I control and yet things are still moving forward.
In the midst of all our getting, I hope we get that life is meant to be relished. Find some time to reflect on how blessed and favored your years have been. Think about the times where you should have been dead or deeply wounded. The cases you should have caught. Are you still breathing? Do you still have the ability to use your limbs? Can you imagine how many people who have walked this earth can no longer answer yes to those two questions?
A little time alone with your thoughts about your life and you just might find yourself crying your own tears of joy. If you do (and you get caught) wear those tears as a badge of honor. You’ve earned the right to exude the deepest expression of gratitude. This is PURE VICTORY!