A Manly Self-Image
What is a real man?
I assume every male survivor asks this question in some form. The answer comes largely from our personal enculturation. We Americans have applauded the strong, silent image of John Wayne, or the suave James Bond. These days theaters are filled with the exploits of those super-sized heroes from Marvel Comics.
All of us were exposed to stereotyped patterns of male images. Too often we assumed that true men were self-sufficient, the taciturn, no-nonsense individual who needed nothing. And then we can cry—but only at funerals of a parent or a spouse.
Despite all our images of the strong, resourceful male, this morning I thought about biblical heroes. Jesus’ first disciples heard him say, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God” (John 14:1). During that same time, he said he was leaving them his peace, “So don’t be troubled or afraid” (verse 27).
When Judas came with soldiers and betrayed Jesus, do you know what the 11 remaining disciples did? They ran away in fear of their lives. If you read the stories of Moses and Joshua in the Old Testament, they were both fearful men and God had to keep telling them he was with them.
And yet those men are our heroes—a serious disconnect from the images around us.
Here’s a little of what I wish my dad or a caring adult male would have said to me: “It’s all right to feel your emotions. You don’t have to be strong all the time. To fear, question, and doubt are human feelings that only real men know how to express.”
I didn’t hear those words and I doubt that most male survivors did, but the message is still true.
I claim my right to feel.
I claim my right not to be ashamed of any of my emotions.
About Cecil Murphey – The Man Behind the Words
Veteran author Cecil (Cec) Murphey has written or co-written more than 135 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.
Cec stays busy as a professional writer and travels extensively to speak on topics such as writing, spiritual growth, caregiving, significant living, sexual abuse, and recovery.
Prior to launching his career as a full-time writer and speaker, Cec served as pastor in Metro Atlanta, as a volunteer hospital chaplain for ten years, and was a missionary in Kenya for six.
Permission to reprint: Veteran author Cecil (Cec) Murphey hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now he helps others in pain through his candid interviews, seminars, blog for male survivors (www.menshatteringthesilence.blogspot.com) and his books When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation and Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Another book, More than Surviving, will release in early 2017. (www.cecilmurphey.com)