It doesn’t count if you don’t say it.

23 10 2009

In my last post I said that one word that I think captures the essence of masculinity is movement.

One example of this that has continued to challenge me over the past several years is from my own counselor, Mike Winkler, who I saw for a little over a year when I lived down in Florida.
He was giving a lecture about masculinity to the counselors-in-training at my school, and he shared about a time when he had been counseling a couple who was struggling in their marriage. One issue that was coming up was that the wife had a hunger for verbal affirmation, and the husband wasn’t giving it to her.
“I love her”, the husband argued. “She knows I love her. I feel love for her. Why should she need me to say it all the time?”
“Because”, Mike responded, “If you just feel it but you don’t say it, then it doesn’t count.
The point he was making is this: Men are designed to enter into the world with shaping, creative strength. But we struggle – all men – with passivity. We want to abdicate the responsibility that comes with our strength, rather than exerting ourselves again and again to bring good into this world.
But – and this is the key – there is something disturbing about a man who just wants to feel something but never do anything about it. Lots of people feel disturbed by the evil in the world and wish it was different, or feel inspired and want to create something, or feel love and affection for those in their lives. But to be truly living out of his masculinity, a man has to take the crucial step into action.

Mike’s words bore more weight for me, because I knew a little bit about his life, I knew him as a man who was willing to take difficult steps to turn his internal passions into external realities.
His words frequently return to me when I want to complain about my life, but not do anything about it. Or when I want to criticize those who are stepping out “into the fray” of this world, without wanting to do anything myself. Or when I would rather read or watch TV than use the creative gifts God has given me to shape and influence this world.
“If I just feel it”, I remember, “It doesn’t count.” I’ve got to step into the world with it.
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