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Men have had enough of not enough

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Men have been getting a bad rap in recent years. They are blamed for almost all of society’s problems. Triple that if they are white men. Double it again if they are conservatives.

This Father’s Day, I think we need to cut men some slack.

Much of the problem with men is that they are exhausted – emotionally and physically – because they really don’t know what is expected of them. The bars of achievement are raised like he’s an Olympic pole-vaulter and the goal posts defining success are pushed further and further back.

Deep inside, they know that whatever they do, it isn’t enough.

That belief starts early in their life, continues through adulthood and culminates as heavy regret in their later years. Let’s look at the life of a typical guy, starting in elementary school when he is told he is not:

  • Studying enough
  • Quiet enough
  • Polite enough
  • Artistic enough
  • Athletic enough
  • Listening enough
  • Clean enough

He is told he is fidgeting too much and needs to be medicated. If only he’d behave more like a girl in school, he would succeed. But, his genetics don’t allow that to happen. It’s a rare boy who doesn’t enter his teens thinking he is incapable of doing anything right.

Eventually, he winds up in high school where he learns he is not:

  • Attractive enough
  • Smart enough
  • Creative enough
  • Studying enough
  • Practicing enough
  • Thin enough
  • Tall enough
  • Hairy enough
  • Serious enough
  • Funny enough
  • Friendly enough
  • Tough enough
  • Helping enough
  • Learning enough

By the time he graduates, his feelings of inadequacy are firmly established, especially if he doesn’t think his father is on his side. To escape the pain, he turns to pornography, alcohol, drugs and begins to isolate himself from others, which further fans his sense of inferiority.

If Satan hasn’t already wounded him badly enough to take him out of the game, he continues trying to prove himself to others, and especially himself. The only way society allows him to do that is at work, where he hears the message loud and clear every day that he is not doing:

  • Enough contributing
  • Enough planning
  • Enough prioritizing
  • Enough selling
  • Enough reporting
  • Enough traveling
  • Enough fixing
  • Enough recruiting
  • Enough emailing
  • Enough budgeting
  • Enough emailing
  • Enough prospecting
  • Enough projecting
  • Enough producing
  • Enough writing
  • Enough calling
  • Enough scheduling
  • Enough collaborating
  • Enough research
  • Enough supervising

If he has any commitment to any of the above, one thing is certain, he isn’t committed enough to doing it fast enough to make everyone happy.

So, after the stress of working 50 to 60 hours a week in a glass gerbil cage running on a treadwheel going nowhere, he visits his doctor and the “not enoughs” start all over again. His physician reprimands him for not:

  • Eating healthy enough
  • Exercising enough
  • Relaxing enough
  • Sleeping enough
  • Flossing and brushing enough
  • Medicating enough with vitamins and supplements
  • Drinking enough water
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking too much
  • Eating too much high-fat food

So, after stopping at the pharmacy on his way home to pick up a stronger blood-pressure medicine, which only makes him more tired and gives him less energy, he arrives home and the fun really begins. From the moment he walks through the door, he learns he is not:

  • Earning enough
  • Listening enough
  • Speaking enough
  • Caring enough
  • Cleaning enough
  • Mowing enough
  • Shoveling enough
  • Cooking enough
  • Weeding enough
  • Raking enough
  • Picking up enough dog poop
  • Romancing enough
  • Washing enough
  • Folding enough
  • Sorting enough
  • Carting enough
  • Spending enough
  • Investing enough
  • Visiting enough – especially the out-of-town relatives
  • Parenting enough
  • Playing enough
  • Repairing enough
  • Disciplining enough
  • Teaching enough
  • Coaching enough
  • Reading enough to the kids
  • Helping enough with homework
  • Remembering enough – especially the exact words he wrote on the card he presented his wife with a specific type of flower on their first date twenty years earlier
  • When he tries to follow doctor’s orders to relax more, he discovers he is:
  • Watching too much television
  • Fishing too much
  • Playing too many video games
  • Spending too much time with friends
  • Not committed enough to quality family time

And we wonder why men walk away from their families and look to start over in life. But, that never works they way they expect and only serves to bury them in more problems, more debt, more work and more feelings of inadequacy.

By the time Sunday rolls around, the pitiful, wounded warrior limps into church (or in some cases is dragged in) and crawls to a seat where he learns just how inadequate he really is, especially with elbows to the ribs by his wife and children. He is told he’s not:

  • Worshipping enough
  • Praising enough
  • Evangelizing enough
  • Attending enough
  • Giving enough
  • Serving enough
  • Reading enough
  • Studying enough
  • Praying enough
  • Fasting enough
  • Singing enough
  • Thankful enough
  • Committed enough
  • Leading enough
  • Growing enough
  • Helping enough
  • Loving enough
  • Meeting enough
  • Sponsoring enough
  • Forgiving enough
  • Teaching enough
  • Spending enough time “in the word”
  • Spending enough time with his wife
  • Spending enough time with his kids
  • Spending enough time with his parents
  • Spending enough time alone with God
  • Through sermon after sermon, he is reminded he is
  • Too angry
  • Too lustful
  • Too selfish
  • Too broken

He discovers he’s too messed up to be of any use to God’s kingdom. If only he would slow down the hectic pace of his life, then he would find genuine rest. The fact he doesn’t enjoy a Sabbath rest is further proof as to how inadequate he really is.

By the time he gets into his sixties, the idea of eternal rest is tremendously appealing.

Do you want to know why women tend to outlive men?

Really? The answer is ugly!

I firmly believe that men get so tired of fighting one battle after another and having life-long feelings of inadequacy reinforced at every turn that they just give up. They bow their heads and utter “It is finished.”

We need to do a much better job of affirming men, believing in them, and supporting them through all the trials and tribulations they face.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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