Emmanuel Vera on what Separates Boys from Men
When asked to write about what a real man is, at first I was quite hesitant, because to be honest, I don’t know too much about men, nor have I ever really sat down and thought about what makes a real one. And, being a teenage girl, I know all too well what a real man is NOT.
And come on, what is it to me? Why do the traits of a “real man” matter? I had thought the whole topic was completely irrelevant, considering I’m not a man, and never will be. So why do I need to know? Then, in that moment, I thought about all the women who, because they do not know what a real man is, settle for a boy, and end up in the middle of a mess, having to step up to the man’s position—fending for themselves, compensating for the man’s passivity, bearing the consequences of their lack of control, and ultimately, getting extremely hurt. I concluded that as a single woman who would one day be marrying (and this applies to all single women out there!), I ought to know the marks of a real man, as I should not settle for anything less.
First and foremost, I believe a real man is, in his very essence, strong. I believe that men were created to be strong, are called to be strong, and must therefore muster up all they have within and choose to be strong. No, it is not a physical, muscular, I-can-lift-heavier-weights-than-you kind of strength I’m referring to (although that’s great; nothing wrong with that), but instead, is more of a strength of soul.
Ironically, this type of strength is the capacity to admit that one is incredibly weak on his own, and thus needs help; that one is powerless without Christ’s power. He knows his human strength will never suffice, so he runs to a Source that will. And because he knows for certain that the strength he’s relying on is enough to carry him through anything, he makes the decision to persevere despite whatever trials may come his way, standing firm in courage and faith, trusting in God’s ability to save.
This very courage is what drives him to become a warrior; a protector. I believe real men are warriors. They are protectors. A real man knows his convictions and priorities—he knows what matters to him and what he stands for—and is willing to fight for them.
I know many are probably thinking, “But I know so many immature jerks who are ‘strong’!” Yes, but let me clarify, the difference between a real man and a boy is that real men know how to control this strength. Since it is not their own, nor does it come from themselves, they are careful to steward it responsibly. They are able to channel it for the better, and not scatter it all over the place, or regard it as a means of furthering themselves, or use it as a bragging right.
They don’t have to, because I believe real men know who they are. They do not need to look for validation or draw identity from women, money, “macho” bodies, nice “porma,” possessions, accomplishments, jobs, positions, talent, or even their own selves. Real men know that trying to find who they are in these things is pointless, and these will never be able to define them, no matter how hard they try.
You see, I believe real men don’t even need to try. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that manhood is a walk in the park, and that no effort is needed to follow through. Rather, I believe that real men do not have to strive to prove themselves, simply because they are already confident and secure in who they know they are. And consequently, they are aware that the only way to grasp who they are is to understand their identity in Christ. Real men know who they are to Christ, who they are through Christ, and who they are because of Christ.
And the only way to be able to accomplish any of these, or to possess any of these traits, is to love God, and seek him with all your heart. He is the only lasting source of strength in this world, the only one who gives the power to have self-control, the only one who can make you secure, and the only one who will ever define you.
In conclusion, ultimately, above all, real men love God more than anything in this world. Everything I’ve mentioned (and because this topic is so vast, everything else I haven’t mentioned) about real men stem from this. Jesus is the prime example of a real man, and getting to know Him will eventually cause you to become more like Him. I believe that real men follow the footsteps of Jesus. To me, real men are after His heart.
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