- My dad didn’t allow me to cry, but I cried when I shot my first bird.
- The big boys don’t cry and real men don’t cry rule gradually faded away after my dad passed.
- Men need to know there is nothing wrong with showing emotions. That does not make them any less man.
By Larry Whiteley
I still remember the day vividly in my mind. It was 1954. I was eight years old and walking around Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. It was where I was born and grew up. My Daisy Red Ryder BB gun is in my hand. I had been shooting at a piece of old, rusted tin hanging on a fence post. A plinking sound told me when I hit my target.
Birds were singing and flying around. Even back then, I loved to watch and listen to them. One bird landed on the fence a little ways from me. I swung my BB gun toward it, looked down through the iron sights, and fired. The little bird fell to the ground. I walked over to where it lay, dropped to my knees, and picked it up. Tears came to my eyes as I held the lifeless little bird. It was the first live animal I ever shot. I told it I was sorry. Tears flowed.
My dad heard me and came to see what happened. He told me it was just a bird and did not try to comfort me. Before walking away, he said, “Big boys do not cry, so quit it.” Even if I did something wrong and he took a switch to me, there was to be no crying. He was like most men back then, and many still today. They believe that real men don’t cry. They believe crying is unmanly.
I grew into a teenager and got into hunting squirrels, rabbits, and quail around the farm. A few times when I first took their life, I almost cried. I had to choke back the tears when we buried our old farm dog Trixie and later Blackie, but the words of my dad in my head stopped me.
I do not remember crying at the funeral of my Grandpa. I did not dare with all those people there. Dad would not have liked that. The closest I came to crying was when my parents divorced, and I had to move to town with my mom. I loved that old farm and did not want to leave it. It was hard to choke the tears back as we drove away.
After high school, I joined the Navy and had to fly off to boot camp. I did not cry then. I wanted to several times but remembered Dad’s words again -real men don’t cry. I was a real man then.
Later in life, I married, and we started our own family. I remember lying on the bed with our newborn son after we brought him home from the hospital. I told him I would always love him. I did cry a little then.
Dad wasn’t around much anymore. The big boys don’t cry, and real men don’t cry, gradually faded away. I am not ashamed to say tears were in my eyes when my sons, grandsons, or a granddaughter caught their first fish. Or when a grandson and a granddaughter got their first deer. When a son, at forty years old, got his first deer, I cried. A few years later, away from others, my tears flowed hard when I heard that same son had cancer.
Animals once again brought tears to my eyes. Some tears fell to the ground while burying our family dog, Buffy. I also cried a little when our son found out one of his beagle dogs had died and was crying. I cried when I lay on the floor with my arm around Memphis. He was the beloved family dog of that same son and his family. I told him how much we all loved him. He couldn’t raise his head, so he licked water out of my hand. I told him his family would be alright. He could close his eyes and go home. If there is a dog heaven, Memphis is there, along with all our family dogs that have touched our hearts.
Young boys and men need to know that there is nothing wrong with showing their emotions. That does not make them any less of a person.
There is nothing wrong with showing your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being emotional. There is nothing wrong with crying. They also need to know they are not any less of a man for doing so.
If you are a believer, and I hope you are, you know Jesus himself cried. If you are not a believer and want to know more, I am not bashful about sharing with anyone what Jesus has done for me and you.
The Bible says in John 11:35 that Jesus wept. He did so when He found out about the death of his friend Lazarus from his sisters Mary and Martha. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but when He saw their sorrow, the tears came to His eyes.
In Luke 19:41 it says Jesus wept before a crowd of men and women over the destruction He knew was coming to Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
There is no shame in a man shedding tears. We men are allowed to have feelings. We don’t have to hide them. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
I read a story recently on my friend Brandon’s blog that he wrote about himself and a change he had made in his life. I had been praying for him for a long time. I am not ashamed to say I cried as I read it.
Brandon is a real man. He loves everything about the outdoors and has traveled all over America and even went to Africa on his quest for outdoor adventures. You can hear about those adventures on his podcast and read them on his blog. He also writes for magazines and newspapers. He is also a conservationist involved in protecting the outdoors that God created for all of us.
In his story, he tells how his Grandpa was his hero. Grandpa was an avid outdoorsman, the life of the party, and drank a lot of beer. He wanted to be like him, and he was for many years.
Besides drinking alcohol way too much, Brandon went through a messy divorce, and his cabin was burnt to the ground by an arsonist. It was enough to make any real man cry.
Then, his teenage girls moved in with him. That is what finally got him on the right path. He realized what his drinking was doing or going to affect them just like his Grandpa’s drinking had affected him. I think he probably shed a few tears through his journey.
He said for the first time in his life, he felt the miraculous hand of God in his life.
In the darkness was a light, and God guided him out of that darkness.
He encourages everyone to join him on the beautiful path he is now on. He also encourages others to ask for help if they cannot do it alone.
You can read his inspiring story at www.driftwoodoutdoors.com. You may cry as you read it, but do not be ashamed. Knowing that real men do cry sometimes and reading Brandon’s story might change your life.