"Your Other Brothers" is a "faith community somewhere between gay and straight, the closet and the mountain top, the back row and the pew beside you." These Christian men share their experiences with same-sex attraction while asking important questions and exploring difficult topics. I'm so grateful that God let me find them!
Their latest episode, "Male Envy," is my favorite so far! It addresses what I personally attribute my attractions to.
While I won't go into great detail with this struggle, I will say that envy probably causes me the most pain of anything I experience. I envy other guys' health, status, talents, bodies, testimonies, popularity, wealth, and most of all, confidence. For some reason, my mind sexualizes the gap between what I am and what I want to be. It's as if my body doesn't believe it'll ever compare to other men and the only way to heal that discrepancy is to be romantically codependent with a man. It's torture.
In our culture, looks seem to be everything. Much attention is paid to effects of advertising on young women in attempts to curb eating disorders and emotional distress in this demographic. Unfortunately, men often get overlooked in this regard. I was told all growing up that I was lucky to be a guy because I didn't have to worry about my hair or makeup, that women are held to a much higher standard.
I'm not arguing that a huge emphasis is placed on a woman's looks, but young men have their own set of messages barraging them. Hollywood and the media tell me that to be a real man I need to have a chiseled jaw, huge biceps, a tight butt, a ripped chest, and, most importantly, a six-pack capable of scrubbing laundry on. It's interesting to see how this expectation has grown so pronounced since the 70s.
Unfortunately, I'm no Arnold Schwarzenegger. My chronic illness makes exercise even more painful, a recipe that simply doesn't lead to physical perfection. When I scroll through my Instagram, I get to see photos documenting the fitness triumphs of many friends. It's great (*sarcasm implied*).
I remember being jealous of my siblings at an early age. I was always the chubby kid while all of my siblings were athletic and brilliant. Fortunately I discovered athletic talents in my later teenage years, but even then, I was constantly reminded that I wasn't the best on the team. As I do now, I compared my weaknesses to the strengths of others.
J. Devn Cornish admonishes "Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick."
I have to continually remind myself that there is more to life than being a jock. My worth isn't predicated on how many hours I spend at the gym each day or how many kilograms of protein powder I consume. But it's hard. It's so hard.
If only I could have the confidence that other men seem to emit. Confidence in their stride, their bodies, their emotions, their passions. I feel like I'm confident in so few aspects of my life. I delude myself when I think that being fit would secure this confidence, but it's so easy to get stuck in a cycle of "if only."
My teacher told us this last semester that "comparison is the thief of gratitude." I believe he's right. We are reminded at church to "count our many blessings" in order to find contentment.
Obviously this is still something that I struggle with, but I know I'm not alone. Listen to the podcast for another perspective!