I was not born to wear a beard. Every November this reality comes crashing down on me, when I commit to "no shaving" to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer. (Side note: I'm not sure if "No Shave November" really intends to help fight the disease, or simply steal some thunder from the ubiquitous pink in October. However, if breasts and prostates were in a popularity contest, it takes little imagination to crown a winner.)
Any amount of time I give to growing a beard results in no more than a dirty dusting of facial hair. I get scruffy, not hairy. I look gross, not handsome. I fight the feelings of inadequacy because my genetic inheritance boasts more baldness than burliness.
My emascurities (a word I coined for insecurities that make me feel emasculated) extend well beyond facial hair.
When I was in youth choir, the director had me sing with altos. When I answered the phone as a child, callers confused me for my mother. When I reached middle school, I was the last of my friends to grow armpit hair and experience a drop in my voice.
Making matters worse, to date I cannot fix cars, remodel homes, or lift weights. I have never shot a gun, caught a fish, or won a wrestling match (my daughters excluded). I've experienced a growing disinterest in professional football, violent movies, and winning in games.
In place of these stereotypical, testosterone-driven activities, my recent cache of pleasures includes long jogs, a good cry, curling up with a book, and meaningful conversations.
If it weren't for my lovely wife, I might question my manliness all together. She fortunately does not judge masculinity by facial hair and handyman skills. "What a man," she said a week ago when I scrapped iron deposits out of our toilet. "What a man," she exclaimed when I made dinner for the family and cleaned the dishes afterwards. "What a man," she chimed when I called a guy who was angry at me and sought to repair the relationship.
My wife knows I was not born for a beard. Not all men are. The measure of a man must go beyond our grooming to our goodness. Every man was born to honor God, love his wife (if married), shepherd his children (if a parent), work with integrity, and outgrow his insecurities.
A beard is a bonus feature I will never achieve.