There’s a story I want to share with you today about manliness, strength, and power. It’s a tale about a boy that I think you may be familiar with...
There once was a boy named Adam. He was born and raised in the beautiful town of Madison, Wisconsin, where he grew up surrounded by family and friends. His life was great, but there was just one problem.
The boy couldn’t cry.
Well, it’s not that he couldn’t cry, exactly. He had in the past, like when he broke his arm in an unfortunate accident at the swing set, or when his mom told him his hamster ran away. But he was so young when those things happened, he couldn’t quite remember what it felt like.
The problem was that he wasn’t allowed to cry.
“Suck it up,” the adults said to him whenever he’d get upset. “Be a man.”
“Are you crying?” The other boys would tease him. “You’re such a crybaby.”
“Be strong,” he’d remind himself, fighting back against the tightening of his throat and the burning in his eyes. “Be strong.”
Adam learned to choke it down, to be exactly who everyone told him he should be. He was strong and in control of his emotions. That’s all he really needed, right?
His tear ducts dried up, and the sadness that should have escaped through his tears worked its way back into his body, burying itself into his bloodstream and manifesting as…
It nestled deep into his earlobes, which steamed whenever he argued.
It curled around his knuckles, fueling his fists to fight.
It flooded his tongue, aggression dripping from his words.
And worst of all, it settled solidly in his heart, slowly forming a rock of hatredso firm that his heart would eventually stop working altogether.
But Adam did not know that all of this was happening. What he saw in himself was something completely different.
He saw power.
And he could never understand why his childhood friends started excluding him. He was doing everything right. It was all how it should be. So why would they turn him away?
Well, Adam thought, it must be because they’re jealous. They will never be as much a man as I am.
Despite his isolation, he did not allow himself to feel sad or lonely. It was their loss, not his. He was better off.
That’s what he told himself, anyway.
Maybe you know a boy like Adam. Maybe you are a boy like Adam.
Maybe you’ve got a rock in your heart, too.
Adam worked hard in every aspect of his life, and he quickly hit all of the expected milestones.
He climbed the ladder at work, and with each pay raise he could provide more and more for his family.
And yet, Adam’s co-workers remained just that - only co-workers, never friends.
His wife grew distant - she couldn’t confide in him anymore because of his lack of empathy.
His sons dubbed him the “mean parent,” because like his parents before him, he encouraged
them to grow up too fast.
The rock grew.
And this time, he felt it.
The solid lump in his chest pained him, and he burrowed deeper into his pit of anger.
He lashed out at everyone and everything, and he hated himself for acting so irrationally.
That was weak.
He was weak.
But he was supposed to be strong.
Like a thin beam supporting the too-heavy burden of his pride, his willpower began to crack.
He needed change.
He discovered a group of men that went by the name Leading With Power, and they met him
with a promise of brotherhood and life change. He was skeptical, but he had nothing left to lose.
What he found there was truly magical.
Adam met other men that shared his struggle - men who also had rocks in their hearts, who
didn’t know how to foster friendships, who didn’t accept themselves as being good enough.
One of those men even became a friend to him.
They opened up to each other and honestly confessed their struggles. And they didn’t judge
each other, no matter how insignificant the struggle may have seemed.
Instead, they encouraged each other to learn something from the problems they dealt with every day.
Together, they chipped away at the rocks in each others’ hearts and the hearts of those around them as they made more friends.
And eventually, their rocks all dissolved.
The anger in their ears, the frustration in their fists, and the hatred in their tongues all melted away.
Adam learned how to cry again.
And this time, the message was different.
“It’s okay to cry,” his friends told him. “Your vulnerability is your strength.”
“Thank you for listening,” his wife said, “and for genuinely being there for me.”
“We love you, Dad,” his sons confessed. “We want to be just like you one day.”
“I am brave, loving, and strong.” Adam reminded himself. “I am powerful.”
The brothers he found at Leading With Power taught him how to be more loving, more
vulnerable, and more human. They taught him that those things are manly, too - that the most manly thing is actually being honest and genuine in all aspects of his life.
With their help, Adam redefined what it means to be a Powerful Man, and he accepted himself for the person he was always meant to be.
If you see a lot of Adam in yourself but you have yet to find your band of brothers, join us for lunch. We’re all here for you - we’re just waiting for you to bravely take that next step towards self discovery.
If you know someone else who could benefit from the strength of brotherhood, please consider sharing this with your friends. Take just a moment of your day to start chipping away at someone else’s rock, and be the catalyst for their change.