As babies become toddlers and toddlers become children, the males among them start to receive the message that they need to stop crying. This is all a part of the process of growing up and, in fact, “manning up.”
At least, that’s what they’re told.
The reality is, the bullies who call the boys “crybabies” are wrong. It is not babyish to cry. At least, not all of the time. Sure, we need to help children learn to manage or tolerate their negative emotions so that everything isn’t a huge deal to them (i.e. it’s really not a big deal if you get a red cup when you wanted a blue one). Children need to learn that whining will not get them what they want, and neither will begging (so, please, don’t give in).
But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Instead, I’m talking about the message that these males receive that tells them that they need to stop crying. Period. We need to move away from this directive for men to keep their feelings inside so that it never shows. We must shut down this idea that keeping it all stuffed deep down means you are tough and strong.
Listen, guys. Men. It really is okay to cry when a situation warrants it. And situations are subjective, so no one can really tell you when it is or isn’t appropriate. Unless the crying is excessive or you think you’re crying for “no reason”, your tears are probably justified. And you know what? It really is okay to express your emotions in this way. Three quick reasons why:
1. Crying is Cathartic.
In other words, you are able to purge your feelings by expressing them. You really will feel emotionally better as a result of crying!
2. Crying is Biblical.
Jeremiah has been called the weeping prophet. David cried. Job Cried. JESUS cried. When I say “cry”, I mean weeping and wailing. All of these men, and more, had serious reasons to cry. Listen, Jesus is God and HE cried! That is all the permission you need.
3. Crying is Acceptable.
Even guys that are accepting of other men when they cry are often not very embracing of themselves. We all tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others, but crying really is acceptable. Try accepting it for yourself.
Gentlemen, here’s the bottom line: Crying is not only ok, but it’s also healthy. We need to encourage a culture of safety in our society, not so that men are crying over their team losing or a bad haircut, but so that men are allowed to express serious emotional pain in this way. To my male friends, you don’t always have to be the strong one. During times of need, allow others to take on that role. Most importantly, allow Jesus to bear your burdens as He calls the weary to Himself. Cry out to Him today.
This piece originally appeared at patheos.com, published with permission.