I was leaving work the other day driving in my 1997 Honda Accord. It sits low to the ground and often smells like oil being burnt off. That's most likely because under the hood oil leaks are being burnt off. My wife got this car when she turned 16. That's right. I drive my wife's first car.
I pulled up to a stop light and waited for the light to turn green. That's when a Jeep pulled up next to me. It was an old school jeep wrangler. The doors were off and in the driver seat sat a guy who looked like he should be climbing a mountain without gear. He was the definition of manly. He was rugged and muscular. He even had one leg hanging out of the door. (which apparently adds 50 points on the man scale)
I sat with in my 97 Honda Accord. My doors were attached and all of my extremities were inside the vehicle. I sat and thought. "What happened to my manhood?' Then I remembered that my wife's car was named Daisy. Yes, Daisy. I was driving Miss Daisy. Wow. I can't even tell you how cool I felt. Was Jeep Guy who I was supposed to be and somehow I turned out to drive a 13 year old car named after a bright flower?
Being a pastor I know about image. I know that I was created in God's image. I've taught on it. I've led whole retreats on it. I know this stuff. After a few seconds, I remembered that I am not defined by my car (or my car's name for that matter) but it's God who defines me. It's still hard for a lot of guys though. When the world says that you should be like the Old Spice guy, you definitely feel like you fall short of manhood sometimes. And it's not just some guys. It's a lot of guys.
It's not hard. Check out my favorite Old Spice commercial. I find it funny, but it highlights my point exactly. Check it out...
See what I mean? Everything in that clip spoke about how a man should look, speak, act, swan dive, and smell. I mean log rolling? Really? I have trouble not tripping on the edge of the side walk. These are the things that tell men how we should be. And to be honest, most of us can't measure up to that.
The truth is that we talk about image issues with women a lot. I'm not saying that we shouldn't because there are a million things bombarding women about image. I'm saying that because we tend to focus on women and image, we forget that men struggle with this too.
When men struggle with image and identity they tend to do stupid things to try and figure it out. Mid-life crisis anyone? I think (because I haven't experienced it) that mid-life crises happen most often because a man gets to a point and wonders, "Who am I? I work all day and for what?" Then they look for things that make them feel alive again. It might be a new car to try and experience power. It might be a motorcycle to experience danger. It might be a mistress in order to experience the power of new love. In all cases it is filling a void with something.
I feel lucky to be a man and know God. There are a few of us who do. A lot of guys don't. They might come to church every once and a while but it's for other reasons. Maybe they are searching. Usually it's because their wife nagged them. It makes me sad though, because I know that God made them who they are. God made them unique, amazing, and powerful and He did it without the help of Old Spice Body Wash.
Men need to know that they are created in the image of God. This is the God that is creative, powerful, loving, protective, and sacrificial. Perhaps if most men understood this, they wouldn't struggle with who they are. Maybe if men understood the Sacrifice that God gave to save His children, men would see the honor and glory of sacrificing in order to provide for their families.
Perhaps if men knew these things, they would proudly drive a 1997 Honda Accord named Daisy, and they would look to "Jeep Guys" everywhere and say, "Dude, Let me tell you what makes me a man..."
If you are reading this and you are a man, take heart, you are created by God and that's is stinkin' awesome. Find some reading about being a man of God. I would start with anything by Tony Dungy. (lots of football stories)
If you are a woman who has a man in her life, I want you to figure out a way to affirm that man.
Maybe, just maybe ,we'll change the world one man at a time.