This International Men’s Day (Nov 19), hear from Awaken Generation‘s co-founder and head of mentoring Calvin Hong who imparts his wisdom on how masculinity doesn’t mean a lack of vulnerability.

I can remember very clearly the first time that I really, really cried. It’s probably when I was 17 years old and almost contemplated ending my life.

I remember going home straight away after a party, and I went to my bedroom and locked the door.

My mum was like: “Is everything okay?” I said: “Yeah, mum, I’m okay.” 

I remember getting down by my bedside, and bucketloads of water were just streaming down from my eyes. It was the fact that I realised how screwed up I was, how messed up I was.

I remember crying bucketloads to the point where I was so broken. I said: “God, do you still want to use someone like me? I’m trash.”

And I just heard the Father’s voice so clearly: “Even I can take the trash and turn it into a masterpiece.”

Growing up, my dad was a very typical Asian father. He would say: “Son, showing your emotions is a sign of weakness.”

But my father didn’t know any better. Later on, after he became a Christian, we would hug and tell each other how much we love each other.

I’ve come to realise that the saying that crying is a form of weakness is an absolute lie. In fact, tears bring joy.

Tears help you to clear off every cloud that has caused confusion. Tears are the very thing that releases who you really are in your humanity — that you are human.

Emotions are very powerful because they were created by God.

When we’re authentic and genuinely vulnerable, and there’s nothing to prove and nothing to hide, that’s when you realise the freedom of just crying. 

One of the reasons why it’s important to create that space for you to release your emotions is because a lot of guys struggle with that, and it leads to the expression of anger and frustration.

I’ve dealt with that so many times in my own life. Back then, it was violence through fighting.

Emotions are very powerful because they were created by God.

They are an expression. And in your pain, in your suffering, in your expression – whether it’s joy, whether it’s sadness – it’s important to be vulnerable.

My encouragement for all of us is: Brothers, find someone you can talk to. You don’t have to be someone who has it all together. Just talk.

I always love to have somebody to ask me: “Hey, Calvin, how are you really doing?” And for me to just say: “Man, things suck. Things are tough.”

You’d want somebody who can encourage you but also give you a place to challenge your thinking.

Someone to say: “Okay, let me pray with you, let me stand with you. Hey, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?”

I love that because when I have somebody to challenge my thinking, they come in and go: “Calvin, I don’t think you’re thinking right. I think that’s not of God.”

Make sure to understand your emotions. If you’re not sure about your emotions, check with someone and say: “Hey, I’m feeling this.”

Normally, when you have issues, it’s not about the issue — it’s actually about how you’re feeling. And it’s important to address that feeling.

So do you have somebody who speaks into your life?

Enjoyed Calvin’s encouragement for men? Check out more tips in part 1 and part 2 of this #THIRSTBITES series too!