I hit a rough patch a few years ago. Relationships disappeared and teetered. Temptations hit. Pitfalls ensued. I didn’t have many go-to friends, and I spent mindless hours mired in online promiscuity.

And then I came across a video. Or perhaps the video came across me?

It’s called “Who You Are: A Message to All Men.” I’m pretty sure I cried in the coffee shop where I first watched it; it hit me pretty deeply.

I had no idea how desperately I’d needed some guy — even some unknowable guy on the Internet — to tell me that I’m awesome.

I’ve watched and rewatched this video a dozen or two times since that night in the coffee shop, often in similar times of longing and desperation. Those times when I need to be reminded who I am — regardless of who I may think I am.

I am a writer.

I am capable.

I am a son.

I am bought and made new.

I am here to change the world.

I am a brother.

I am a man. And I am awesome.

As are all of you reading this, being here, adding to this brotherhood. This is who you are:

Do you struggle with your manhood? Do you ever describe yourself as “awesome” in a completely legitimate, non-ironic way?

* Photo courtesy Send me adrift, Creative Commons.

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    21 Comments
    • Reply Dan Myers

      28 September 2016, 10:39 am

      Thanks for sharing that video, Tom! It’s so powerful to think about our potential as men of God. I love our uniqueness and individuality. God has a calling on our life unlike any other! If you’re reading this, God wants to use YOU. You are capable of something that no one else in this world can do, because you are you and no one else is. I pray that we all find our calling, brothers. God wants to bring us out of our mess and shape us into His soldiers. Let’s fight the good fight, boys!

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        28 September 2016, 6:25 pm

        Growing up in the church, I’ve always “known” that God “wants to use me” in a generic sense for His people. It’s only been in recent years I’ve heard God calling me — ME, specifically — down certain roads that only I could walk down. And this has been a huge shift, realizing that God wants to uniquely use me to do things only I can uniquely do. I pray we all walk in this awareness and believe in the power of what He can do only through us. What a shift.

        • Reply Marshall R

          2 October 2016, 2:29 pm

          Yes Tom! I don’t think anyone else could have walked down the roads you did. Because you have walked that path, many who once felt alone in their struggles now KNOW that they are not alone! Love you Tom.
          “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)

    • Reply mistaken identity

      28 September 2016, 12:04 pm

      My simple answers are “yes” then “no,” Tom. I would do well to watch that every day for a month. I have been moving toward those truths for a few years now, but most of my descriptions are still full of irony.

      • Reply Anon

        28 September 2016, 2:26 pm

        Irony is a good way to describe it. Most of the time, the words I feel about myself are full of bitterness and hate. When not excessively negative, I repeat ironic or dismissive words.
        But, this is not how God views us. I’m trying to reprogram my mind with positive words from the father.
        ‘Tis a struggle.
        At least I can say, that this struggle is not unique, it is merely just the latest, in a long line of struggles. I am reminded of lord of the rings- the dwarves who talk about joining the great halls of their fathers. Just think, all the saints struggled with insecurities and doubts, and tried to live in the light of Christ.

        • Reply mistaken identity

          28 September 2016, 3:22 pm

          Yes, it is a struggle. I was a cognitive psychotherapist, so such reprogramming should have been easy for me. But God is patient and powerful. It is good to think of the saints with all their insecurities. The folks in Hebrews 11’s “hall of fame” are just as flawed as we are, and yet giants.

          • Reply Anon

            28 September 2016, 4:20 pm

            But, what do you do, when these thoughts burden you so? How do you live?

            • mistaken identity

              28 September 2016, 8:59 pm

              I lived for years that way, not with the abundant life that Christ spoke of but with a lesser existence. It was difficult to see, I think, because we compared ourselves to others, and the average church goer is just a mess, not to speak of our unsaved friends. I accomplished a lot in caring for foster kids and the disabled. My work was respected by others. I loved my wife most of the time, and I adored my kids (ok, maybe not for all the teen years). There are countless good memories: hiking in the Sierras, playing softball as a family, pulling the kids on rafts through the Big Sur River, reading about Frodo and Sam, etc. But there were also many dark days where I would disappear into myself because the self-hatred became too intense. Now, there is still the residue of all that negativity, but I am almost fully aware that it is a lie. That doesn’t mean that I never make agreements with the lies, because I still do, though far less frequently. I think I have had one incapacitating day of depression in 2016 (after a return from a missionary trip to Baja) versus maybe 40 a year when I was younger. I wasn’t joking about watching Tom’s video every day. I need to do stuff like that to stay healthy. I have had to stand in front of a mirror every morning for days and “speak truth” over body parts that are not quite as astounding as I think they should be.

            • Thomas Mark Zuniga

              30 September 2016, 6:31 pm

              You inspire me to start doing my own “mirror talk.” Thanks MI.

            • mistaken identity

              3 October 2016, 7:44 pm

              Well, I hope I can give a little back. You youngins inspire me all the time.

    • Reply Kevin Frye

      29 September 2016, 2:13 am

      I went through a period of time in my early twenties when I think I came off as pretty conceited to some people. They would compliment me and I would respond with, “Thank you! I know!” I would also say things that put me or my attributes in a positive light, or I do things that demanded attention, such as the way I dressed, colored my hair, etc. But what a lot of people didn’t realize then was that I was fighting. I was fighting the wrong thoughts that were in my head. I was fighting shame, fear, and weakness within me. When I spoke what sounded like conceit, I spoke as if I were countering a lie that was being played on repeat in my head. I did a lot of things that were the opposite of the fear that I had lived under for so long. People (in the church!) judged me, gossiped about me, and didn’t approve of what I was doing all the time, but they didn’t understand that I was fighting to prove to myself and to Satan who I was in Jesus.

      • Reply mistaken identity

        29 September 2016, 3:36 am

        When we try out any new behavior, it is obviously not going to be perfectly done. If the church were the church she would recognize the process and bless it, seeing the heart that is fighting for purity rather than outer things that are not quite perfected. But the church is usually not the church because folks do not have the courage to follow Jesus into a new way as you did, Kevin.

      • Reply Eddie

        29 September 2016, 6:24 am

        Once upon a time during my high school years, my mom decided to send me to a psychologist because I too came across as arrogant and conceited during a single encounter and she wanted to know why. What I couldn’t explain at the time was that this was my own defense mechanism kicking in to combat the unrelenting abuse and bullying I suffered that to this very day has caused my self confidence to dwindle. During my therapy session yesterday, I came to answer two questions posed by my counselor as to “Why do you think you have SSA and OCD in your life? Why don’t you think you’re not a man?” It is because I lack self confidence (inferiority complex) and I’m trying to grasp at proverbial straws to feel whole again. I was fighting to prove to myself that I was still of value to God.
        Do you struggle with your manhood? Yes, I do. I don’t feel like a man, but rather just a guy (some semblance of a man) if that makes any sense.
        Do you ever describe yourself as “awesome” in a completely legitimate, non-ironic way? Ha ha! No, despite my age of youthful arrogance I’ve come to remain humble in times of triumph. I’ll let others praise my good efforts and take it in modestly. Oh, I might let people know if I did well in one of my courses, but I don’t go around thinking I’m better than everyone else. IMHO, that’s not Christ-centered behavior.

        • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

          30 September 2016, 6:34 pm

          I wouldn’t say calling yourself “awesome” necessarily equates with thinking yourself better than others. On the contrary, learning to call myself awesome actually bumps me up to where I always deem everyone else: already frolicking on the awesome plane.

          • Reply Eddie

            2 October 2016, 12:24 pm

            So are you equating “awesome” for a kind of “happy”, but not necessarily euphoric state of mind?

            • Thomas Mark Zuniga

              2 October 2016, 3:36 pm

              I see awesome as being beautifully/wonderfully made from the start. And then in my brokenness and desperation, I was still deemed worthy of rescuing and new life. I am awesome because I am made in the image of the Awesome One.

      • Reply Anon

        29 September 2016, 5:20 pm

        I agree with MI- it takes courage to counter lies. And the truth is often shocking.
        That’s what’s so great about laying it all out there. You don’t have to be something you’re not. You can counter lies with truth. And you can be healed.
        “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for each other, so you may be healed.” I listened to a John Piper sermon the other day, about this verse- he said, “It doesn’t say, ‘so you may be forgiven’. It says ‘so you may be healed’. Confession and Prayer are for your benefit- so that you may be healed.”
        Isn’t it a relief to not carry that burden of isolation, hiding? And such a blessing to let others pray for you? What’s more intimate than sharing your heart with someone?
        I’ve been on a quest recently to make my insides match my outsides. This is part of it- being the whole person, lay it all out there, and give others the opportunity to walk beside me in my struggles.

    • Reply Jim Roberts

      29 September 2016, 11:49 pm

      In my 30s I attended a “Positive Sales Seminar” (or something like that). It had speakers and books/handouts. One of the items was a small plastic sign to hand on the shower head. And recite the “positive” messages every morning. I bought it and said them for at least ten years after. I thing Zig Ziglar was the author:
      I will win! Why? I’ll tell you why:
      Because I have Faith, Courage and Enthusiasm
      Today I will meet the right people at the right place at the right time.
      For the betterment of all.
      I see opportunity in every challenge.
      I am terrific at remembering names.
      When I fail, I look at what I did right not what I did wrong,
      I never listen to people more messed up than me.
      I am lovable, capable and a contributor.
      I believe in me.
      The company I worked at during that period was in constant turmoil. I REALLY battled anxiety as I was newly married with a young son (and later a daughter too). Reading this to myself every morning helped.
      Am I really great? Powerful? Awesome?? I struggle with those today. Life seems to teach me otherwise. But I do understand the “power of positive thinking”. It is real.

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        30 September 2016, 6:28 pm

        Positive thinking. Gosh. It goes such a long way. I need to be one of those people who writes affirming things on his bathroom mirror. I’ve resisted and resisted, but it just needs to happen. I get bogged down by own self-pity and self-criticism all the time.

    • Reply Phil Hoover

      4 October 2016, 2:57 pm

      You are indeed “awesome”…I knew that, Tom, more than two years ago when you first visited my home in Chicago. I’ve only strengthened my opinion of your “awesomeness” over the last two years. I’m here for you. JESUS is here for you…

    • Reply WaveDave

      28 November 2016, 6:11 pm

      Needed to read this today…thank you!!! I love reading Psalm 139 which declares we are fearfully and wonderfully made…and that alone is an encouragement to me. As that famed singer, Ethel Waters, once said, “God doesn’t make no junk.” When I think that Jesus died on the cross for me, it is humbling and encouraging for me.

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