A Prayer for Young Men Struggling With Despair

We men soothe ourselves with illusions of strength. With fantasies of control. Digital delusions. Daydreaming about becoming titans in our own world—respected, loved, honored, desired. “Well done, good and faithful servant” is a footnote to a more carnal goal: Men want to be him, women want to be with him (Matthew 25:21).

We men know that we are never going to have the physical strength of superman. We’re never going to be as debonair as Bruce Wayne. But most of us would choose to be an important villain instead of a sidelined extra and weak civilian. Part of us would choose to be Bane, or Lex Luther, who has a name, who has a role, whose purpose is forcibly impressed on the world, over a faceless innocent who needs to be rescued, and whose story is never told.

We want to be the heroes of our own stories, and of the stories of others. For men in the 21st century—a time when heroism is measured by popularity and admiration, quantified publicly by social-media followers—going viral is perceived as a more meaningful success than becoming virtuous; we gladly choose the fame that succeeds over the faith that needs.

The higher we climb this ladder—the deeper our devotion grows to this myth about being the beloved hero—the more devastating the consequences of failure. The more visceral and soul-destroying the consequences of remaining unrecognized. Body fat, minimum wage, no 401k, rejection by women, disapproval by older men, these are unbreakable shackles that chain us to our self-hatred.

Our wickedness breaks the illusion of our self-righteous control; our failures put boot to neck on our fantasies of strength. As men, we are given every reason in the world to despise ourselves, and at the same time are supplied with every resource imaginable to distract ourselves from ourselves—distractions which ultimately push us deeper into our hatred.

Four of Five Suicides

According to the most recent large-scale study by the Center for Disease Control, 78 percent of Americans who kill themselves are male. (It is also noteworthy that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Millennials.)

Why are so many men killing themselves?

Peer-bullying is a leading cause of suicide among middle-school and high-school students. But we might assume that self-bullying is the leading cause of suicide among 20-something men. We are slammed against a brick wall we have no idea how to handle: We feel like failures. Emotions take over. Despair sits like a stone in our stomachs, like concrete boots dragging us toward what feels like our inevitable end. “I’m not going to make it.” Dejection, laced with a fatal sense of our own wretchedness—of our own hate-worthiness: “Stupid.” “Ugly.” “Lazy.” “Idiot.”

Maybe God can save us from eternal damnation, but can he save us from ourselves now?

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Source: Church Leaders

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