When you put the two words tender strength together, it doesn’t usually make sense. Can we really be tender and be strong?
I think most people would unequivocally answer no to that question. When we think of tender, we usually think of being soft, over-emotional and physically weak.
I am here to say that thinking is 100% wrong. A man showing our tender side doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human. It makes us strong and it makes us authentic.
Every Man Has a Tender Side
I believe every man has a tender side. I witnessed it at a men’s retreat I went to recently. It was a beautiful thing. Something men have learned to repress and be ashamed of our whole lives.
When our tender side is repressed it usually turns to addictions, violence, abuse and unhealthy power. We develop an inner rage within us because we don’t have a safe place to share our vulnerabilities, hurts and most importantly our tender side.
This doesn’t mean we are push-overs. We have to learn how to balance our tenderness with our strength. Our lover side with our warrior side. Our mighty lion with the lamb.
The world needs us to show up with both. And men we have to be willing to go on a deep introspective journey to understand both sides of ourselves.
As a contemplative Jesus follower I look to Jesus as the example. Jesus showed up with love and compassion in every circumstance in his life. The woman who was caught in adultery was treated with grace, mercy, love and compassion. The woman at the well was treated the same. Jesus was showing us his lamb side.
Then Jesus showed us his lion side when he overturned the tables at the temple. Notice it was the tables he overturned and didn’t turn to violence towards his fellow man. As men we are called to stand up for what is right. To display just and righteous anger.
We haven’t learned how to express our anger in a healthy way and heaven forbid we say we are feeling tender.
I think it’s about time we bust through those stereotypes and allow men to express our tender and sensitive side. It’s about time we learn to stand up for what is right and be the men we are called to be.
Balancing the Lover and the Warrior
It’s not an easy balance. It’s something I have struggled with my whole life. I haven’t been very good at finding the middle ground. I have gone from punching walls to being passive and probably everywhere in between.
I am learning a different and much better path. I believe it’s the best of both worlds. It is the path of tender strength. It’s who God created us to be. When we deny either part of the lover and warrior it usually doesn’t turn out good.
What part of you do you need to express more and become friends with? The lover or the warrior? Have you denied yourself the expression of your tender side because you are ashamed that it made you less of a man? Have you been passive in your relationships because you were afraid? Have you failed to stand up for what is right in our world?
Practicing tender strength is a beautiful thing. We will fail many times going from one extreme to the other. That’s ok. We will learn how to do this more and more in our lives as we practice the art of tender strength.
It’s what our world needs right now.
We need non-violence, not violence.
We need unity, not division.
We need love, not hate.
We need light, not darkness.
I will leave you with this beautiful and tender quote.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” –Saint Francis de Sales
Let’s be tender strength so we and our world can heal.
Spiritual Warrior Coach
Founder and Creator of Barbells & Brothers