Do Real Men Cry?

As much as I don't want to admit it, I cried after watching Toy Story 3. It got to me! What is it about crying during a simple movie that makes a man feel like he's less of a man? Is it so engrained in our culture that men can't cry?

Karis cried at her first movie this weekend. We were watching Castaway with Tom Hanks. Granted, she only saw the last 45 minutes. However, she watched enough to appreciate the relationship that Tom Hanks had with his volleyball friend, Wilson. When Wilson fell off the raft and drifted slowly away into the Pacific, Karis started to tear up. She looked at me and said, "My eyes are watering and I don't know why!". I knew why. She was sad that Wilson was lost at sea. I asked her if she was sad that the man lost his volleyball. She answered "Yes" with a sheepish nod. My heart broke for her. It was such a simple moment, but my heart broke more thinking about the fact that she was embarrassed about her tears.

I wonder how much of a disservice we do to our children by communicating to them that it is not okay to cry? Now, I'm not advocating that we pamper kids into grown adults who cry about their latte orders getting messed up. However, can't we do a better job of communicating to our kids that it is okay to show emotion? One of my fondest memories of childhood is when my dad embraced me as a 7 year old boy with tears in his eyes, knowing that he was about to leave on assignment from the U.S. Army to be away from us in Korea for a year. That memory sticks out vividly in my mind, because without saying a word, through his emotion, my dad communicated how much he loved me.

I wonder how many opportunities I miss out on, in communicating to my daughter, my wife, or those I minister to by holding back tears? Maybe a lot.

As a father and man of God, I sincerely want to communicate Christ through my life. In one of the easiest memorized scripture verses we learn that Jesus wept. Jesus showed emotion. Emotions can be a beautiful sign of authenticity. Of course, emotions can be good and bad. But I think true emotional responses are products of the heart. I suggest that we not be so hard-nosed about suppressing them.

When I was Karis' age, I cried at my first movie, Dot and the Kangaroo. In the movie, Dot gets lost and encounters a kangaroo who helps and befriends her. Eventually, Dot must part with the kangaroo. It was at this point, as a 3 year old boy, that I teared up. According to my mom I uttered the same words that my daughter did on Saturday, "My eyes are watering and I don't know why!". I was embarrassed, because even as a 3 year old, I felt that it was not okay to cry. I'm learning as a man, that its perfectly okay for me to cry, and its okay for people to see it.