Do we have a mission? If so, what is it? If we can determine what our mission in life is, can we handle if it doesn’t meet our expectations?
I think we all have a mission, some are to be fathers, some are to be champions of the weak, and perhaps some are selected to be stewards of the world. No one mission, in the great narrative which is the book of life in God’s eyes are any more important than another. We just don’t know the story in its entirety; our mission may be that we raise a young child and teach them faith, whereby they are selected to be a father to someone who will one day lead the world in peace for God’s greater glory. We just don’t know! Though, not knowing is the journey which we learn and can one day follow what it is we were chosen to do. Just like on any team we find there are leaders and followers, and as you can probably guess I’m going to point out the obvious. There can be no leaders without competent followers and vice versa. This extreme compliment works in all aspects of society it seems. Look at the example of light and dark, with true light there is true darkness. We can’t exist in both, but we can make a choice, and when we make the choice it is ours alone.
I wanted to talk about mission after reading (Mk 1:29-39); Jesus indicates to his disciples “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came”. There were many people with sickness, disease, and possession in this time and they flocked to him in droves. Imagine this, there is no such thing as a doctor in your town, and an influenza epidemic has hit, your youngest daughter comes to you and says her throat hurts and she can’t stop sneezing. What do you do? Do you sit it out, hoping and praying for recovery? Or, when you hear of a man, “a great prophet” who can heal and teaches with authority like no other teacher you’ve ever heard. Do you run at the chance he may be able to heal your child? Now imagine this, you are the man who can heal, and you feel the pain and anguish of every person who is near you searching for healing, both in the physical and spiritual sense. You have a mission, do you stay against the wants and desires of the people around you, or do you stick to your purpose?
I think this in a very small way is analogous to the mission we as fathers and faithful men of God are selected to accomplish. I see simply, do we continue in the directions we know to be right, in the moral teachings of God, or do we capitulate to the needs of our children because we can see the pain they may or may not be in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to those situations of innocuousness where your son or daughter may want ice cream, and you say “sure”, knowing it may not be what your wife wants. Those are battle decisions, a choice to do battle over something that provides no long-lasting point, other than being able to flex the dad muscle. No, I am referring to those decisions when your oldest daughter comes to you and requests that her and her boyfriend would like to go see a movie. My mission in situations like this is three pronged. The first, is she safe with said boy? I want to do my best to insure she is aware of good and safe conduct and to never put her in a position where she may wind up getting hurt or anything much worse (it’s definitely not lost on me, the number of sicko guys out there). Second, I am not someone who can see into the future, but I would like to think with my experience in life and my perception that behaviors are as easy to read as a book. I ask myself this question; is the behavior they exhibit on which will get them into trouble in the future? If so, I must have the strength to say, “no”, no matter how much crying and angry words are exchanged. Third, as familiar as I am with the ways of the world and the importance placed on sex, I want to show that love is much bigger than a physical act between two people (whom are married). My wife and I try to have the healthiest relationship possible. We talk about everything, and yes, we argue about things too. Sometimes our arguments are unproductive attempts to win the passive aggressive Olympics. Though, I’ve noticed as we’ve put some years behind us, we’ve become more productive with our time. We are willing to say sorry more often than try and blame the other for our decisions. Though with this example, we try to show our children, the relationship is so important to everything in their lives.
When thinking about these three topics, I have no misconceptions about the fact, my daughter is a thinking breathing person, who can at some point make up her own mind with no help from, Dad. So, I want to give her the choice of understanding, so when she makes her decisions, they are hers and she can own them. However, like the driver’s education car of my youth, I have my hand firmly on the wheel and my feet ready to slam on the brakes. At the end of the day, I know better than her, and this is my mission, to let her walk the path and quietly allow her to make some mistakes and gain recognition of the better choices which could have been made. Though when I see a major bend in this road, to hold her back until I can see she can move forward. I know this sounds like the typical jerk dad in a Hollywood movie or TV show; though the truth of the matter is, it is necessary. Sure, there are some dads out there who never want to see their children grow to adulthood, but this truly isn’t the case for either my wife or myself. We can’t wait to see the grown men and women they will be, but once again it’s out mission to patiently move them down the path of life, until we can see, they will make it.
So, this is my mission in life, at least as far as I can tell; I’m a father, a husband, and a faithful servant in God. This mission has become my focal point in life, and no I’m not constantly talking to my kids about what they should or should not be doing. Just like anything which is repeated too much, it might fall on deaf ears; I pick and choose my times to teach them what I’ve learned, because I was a major bonehead for a long time. I know my teachings to them have three simple points. God is always the most important aspect of their lives, no matter what adversity they face. God is always there for them, they must recognize this fact, and they can always continue to move forward with everything. This may mean, they face terrific hardships, crippling losses, or personal setbacks which test every fiber of their being. Though they may go through all of this, God is always there, God is always comforting, and most importantly loving them for who they are, not as they see themselves. If they are always honest and willing to stand up and expose their faults to God, God is always listening and forgiving.
The second point I make to them is the point of family. Family should always come second, no matter what. Now, I’m not saying people should allow a family member to walk over them like a floor mat, but what I am saying is, even if they do, we must be willing to make the ties of our families much stronger. This means seeking to understand those members of our family who get under our skin the most, accepting them for who they are, not necessarily what they do. This means, in its most unconditional way, we must learn to love them. Everyone must face their own judgement at whatever time is selected, but in the context of family, our love may just be what they need to really see the reflection of who God is to us, and where they need to be. I have a brother of whom, I’ve spoken with a couple of times in eleven years, we have just drifted apart, and this is a point of conflict deep down for me. However, I am there for him no matter what; I love him deeply, and wish him the best no matter what he chooses to do. Though I will not pander to behavior either; if he wants a relationship with me, he can have one for sure. I have built my portion of the proverbial bridge, and I must wait for him. He must build his own portion, otherwise it will never work. A relationship requires work for both parties involved, and this seems much more complicated when dealing with family, but I feel it is worth the effort. So, my wife and I teach our kids, family is second only to our faith in God.
The third point is equally as hard as anything we could ever do. I always say, “handle your business”, which for all intents and purposes means, make sure you get done what needs to get done. This means study and make good grades, when given a job finish it to its completeness, always stand firm to their principles (e.g. be honest), and will the good of the other because they are other. If we are unwilling to be charitable in our behaviors towards others, then we can never truly know love. Sometimes, I will have a talk with one or more of my kids about someone who causes them grief either in school or the neighborhood. My advice to them comes down to two things, “make sure you are right in how you act and how you treat the other person”, and second, “before talking, try and listen to what they have to say”. As you can imagine, my children are more impatient than I am, so this most times falls on deaf ears, but the point is there to be made. Again, and again, I ask what they could have done better in every tough situation they face, they must be made to realize they should hold themselves to a higher standard before they can have a single expectation of another person. In this, I hope to challenge their intellect so they can learn the very much needed human trait of self-reflection. Until someone can learn to do this, they will never progress in anything. Athletes have the benefit of watching film to get better, but the only tool we have is our humility to ask forgiveness or how we could have been better. The rough point is, when they’ve followed my advice and it blew up in their face, and they were embarrassed. Embarrassment is not altogether a bad thing; the root of humility is humiliation, no one can ever hope to be humble without, at least some level, of humiliation that they may be forced to reflect on themselves and their actions.
As a father, when I’ve taught my children these lessons, I’ve thought back at the relevance of my teaching them as it has pertained to my life. I’ve found when I failed or created a situation whereby my goals weren’t realized or a punitive situation has occurred, it has been a failure to adhere to these three points of action. So, the relevance is there, and the broad stroke placed on the importance and ambiguity placed on the interpretation, allow for implied understanding in the need for an objective truth. Without objectivity, I have never been successful in accomplishing anything consistently.
My mission is to be a father, husband, and devoted servant; nothing more, and nothing less. When I’ve strayed from these roles due to a perception of want on my end, I sense an unseen for drawing me back to the fold, as it were. When I’ve embraced this mission, my life has been anything but easy, and at the same time rewarding beyond a comprehension to explain. I’m happy to wake up in the morning, and happy to be even a small portion of my family’s life. I don’t always get to see my kids because of work obligations, and I’m just like any person who works from early till late, I’m tire when I get home. I know some people may think there’s a regret there, but there really isn’t. My kids are a priority, but to be clear, the tail never wags the dog, an old euphemistic phrase a wonderful choir director would say. I want to give them things I never had and teach them lessons I see as important, but my wife and I never make big family decisions on our perception of how they would feel about our decisions. Instead, we decide on what would be best. This is to say, we know what is best, and they don’t, their kids, and as smart as some kids may be this still doesn’t qualify for an ability to make competent adult decisions. Perhaps, some parents should realize this when deciding whether being a friend to their kid is as important as they think. My mission is to always be a parent first before trying to gain my child’s affection. I love them, and I truly want their affection, but they don’t even know what they want, why would I put stock in something which in its entirety is fickle at best. They are kids, and I want them to be kids, and not worry about anything other than learning and knowing they can trust me and their mother no matter what.
What is your mission? Do you know? Have you really spent the time to discern what is it God has planned for you? If not, I challenge you to consider the silence of your heart, if you are quiet and listen long enough, you’ll find the answer is right in front of you. I pray you find a noble and discerning mission which will fulfill your life and those of the people you are meant to be around and associated with. May God bless you and your family, and remember God first, family second, and handle your business with everything you do.
God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!