Words Hurt: Bad fathers are Evident…So are the good ones.

 

Hello,

It’s been a while since I have written anything.  Life has been happening and is still happening as we speak.  With school, my upcoming marriage, and children, time seems to get away from me.  This isn’t any excuse, per se.  Just an observation.

Speaking of children, I would like to talk about fathers for a second.  Yes, we get that annual day where we have the opportunity to be celebrated but there is a lot that is unseen during the other 364 days.  Now, I do not claim to be an expert in the art of Fatherhood, nor am I downplaying the art of Motherhood.  What seems to be prevalent are the numerous opinions and think-pieces about how there are so many bad fathers out there without too many opinions of think-pieces about the good ones:

The good ones that, despite lack of whatever, they still manage to sacrifice what they have so that their children get what they need.

The good ones that are trying to do the best that they can.

The good ones that are managing a career, school, etc. without neglecting their children.

Those guys.

Again, I am not trying to shame mothers in any way.  I just want the record straight.  When fatherhood is reduced to the showing of bad opinions, unresolved feelings, name calling and general disdain, it takes away from the MEN out here taking it to the max.  In other words, there could be a reason why “part-time dads”exist that have nothing to do with them actually being part-time.  Maybe, just maybe, their “part-time” status is not their doing.  Maybe, their “full-time” status has been reduced because of said issues above.  IT JUST MAY BE NOT THEIR FAULT!

For the Gentlemen doing the best that they can, this does not give you the option to slack off or stop.  This means that, despite what may be said about you, you keep doing what you’re doing…if not more.  Don’t let the words of some dictate how you help raise your children (some of this is directed right at me).  Stay focused, stay involved.  No matter the situation or circumstance, your impact matters.  You were given a gift(s) from God and the very least you can do is show appreciation by being present, involved, and dedicated.  That’s only the minimum.  The more you add makes it that much sweeter in the end.

Until next time…

(Photo courtesy of voicemalemagazine.org)

Love in the Lunch

I was at work the other day and it was time for lunch.  I went to the fridge in the break room and took my lunch out. I opened the bag and put my container in the microwave to warm up my food.  When it was done I went to my desk to start eating.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  However, when I looked in the bag I saw a note.  It was a yellow sticky that read, “Have a good day at work babe.  I love you.”  Did I mention that my fiance was here visiting? Well, she was.  She was here for 10 days from Wednesday before Father’s Day until yesterday morning.  Normally, eating leftovers isn’t really a big deal but, there was something special about what was in the bag today.  She put love in my lunch.  This may not seem like a bog deal to some of you out there reading this but, to me, this was extra special.  For starters, I didn’t know she slipped the note in my lunch bag.  Second, she did it when I wasn’t really expecting it. Third, I wasn’t in the best mood since my car is acting up, yet again.  All I know that there was not in my bag that I did not expect and it was right on time.

This makes me think of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-2).  You see all throughout life we have the opportunity to do things to and for people.  We have the chance, every single day to do something good.  The key is that you have to do it in love otherwise, what’s the point? If I tell you that I am going to do something for you just to let you know that I did something for you, that’s not what it’s about.  If my service to humanity is insistent upon itself, I’m not doing what Paul, more so what Christ has been trying to teach us.  In fact, it’s just a bunch of noise for my own gratification.  Not cool at all.

I said all of this to say that I love the Love in the Lunch.  It really made me feel special and it definitely made my day brighter.  I’m looking forward to more of the same and can’t wait until I can’t return the love.

What Ministry Has Taught Me While Working in a Library

I have not posted anything here in a good while so I pray that everything is going well with you.  School, work, fatherhood, and ministry have taken up quite a bit of my time as of late.  Hopefully, if things slow down, I will be able to share with you a little bit more.  In the meantime, I’m asking for prayer and patience.

I’m not sure that some of you know but, I work in the library system.  I got this job almost 3 years ago.  To be truthful, this was not my first choice–I’m in the IT field and I kinda miss it–But I’m still thankful in the long run because this experience has given me a glimpse of what the Pastorate feels like.  Let me give you a few examples.

1.  Everyone that comes in needs help in some way.  My branch is open Monday-Saturday.  During the times that we are open, there are several people who come in that need help.  Some of these people are regulars and some aren’t.  This is not unlike your local churches where we have some members that have been there for decades but there are the occasional visitor that will come to worship.

2.  There are some that want your help.  Of the people who visit the branch on a daily basis, there are some folks that really need your help.  It could be looking for a book to read for themselves or their child or looking for directions to a location in the city or faxing paperwork to various agencies or even needing help with research on the computer.  At the church, there are folks that come to worship but they are in need of prayer, healing or a question regarding scripture.  They come because there is something missing in their lives and they feel the church is the place where they can get it.

3.  There are some that don’t want your help.  This is interesting.  There have been many times where a patron has come into the branch and did not or does not want your help.  I could go into several reasons why but that could take a while but to give you one example, we offer free computer classes every week where I personally teach basic computer skills.  Remember those folks that come on but don’t want help?  Well they fit into this category because sometimes, my class attendance may be two to three at the most.  Again, the church is parallel to this scenario.  Some folks will come but will refuse to the help that we offer.  Like the library, there are several reasons why but there are too many to name here as well.  Remember the ones that have questions about scripture?  Well, a lot of churches have bible study during the week with a regular attendance of just a few so, where are the folks that have questions?

So what is my point to all of this?  Well, it’s simple.  Since I have been in ministry longer than I have been at the library, I had to come to terms with the fact that both places are a lot alike.  The only thing in common from my perspective is that I’m at both places and I am also there to serve the folks that come in.  Is it frustrating? Sure.  Are there days where I don’t want to go to either place? Definitely.  However I have to remember that it really isn’t about me but who I am serving and who I am trying to help.  It can be draining mentally and sometimes physically but when it’s all said and done, I know I will be back to do it all over again.

WWYD: What Would You Do?

Last weekend, my oldest asked me, “Dad if you could change something in your past, what would it be?”  That was definitely a random question from him but, not unusual.  He’s definitely the analyst between he and his brother.  We had just seen the latest Terminator movie so, I am going to assume that this is where the question came from.  Anyway, as we pulled into Target to waste some time before going home, I thought about his question so that I could give a halfway intelligent answer.  I said to him, “I don’t think I would change a thing.  If I were to go back too far, then you and your brother wouldn’t be here.  If I didn’t go back far enough, then I may not be where I am at this point in my life.  I’m cool where I am.”

That conversation made me think a little more.  What if we were able to go back and change some things in our lives?  I’m not just talking about the bad stuff.  I mean, anything.  If I could change the fact that I got out of the Army and stayed in, I would have more than likely been deployed to God knows where for God knows how long.  More importantly, there would be a question of would I make it out alive?  If I could change the fact that I was laid off more than once, there’s a possibility that I could have been a decent job making good money.  The flip side is that I could have missed out on some of the experiences that I have had that, quite frankly, have given me some life lessons that I so desperately needed.  I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that the things that have happened in our lives have all be for a reason.  Yes, some of them have been bad choices and other good ones.  If you’ve made some bad choices in your life, I pray that you have learned from them so that you can be better than who you were back then.  If you’ve made some good choices in your life, I pray that you can appreciate them and hopefully cherish them over and over.  Here’s the rub:  The bad choices are only relative to the time that they occurred.  I’d like to think that the so-called bad choices enabled me to grow, learn more about myself, push abilities to their limits and, more importantly, learn how to rely on God.  If every choice I made was good in my eyes, then what would have really learned? How could I grow as a man, father, etc?  How would I learn how to rely on God?  Definitely something to think about, isn’t it?

The next time someone asks you “what would you change?”, think about where you are now and what you could lose if you did change it.  I’m pretty sure you’d be happy where you are.

What does it take?

Sometimes, I really dislike trying to be happy.  I know that sounds pretty strange but, it’s true.  You hear it all of the time, “I’m trying to be happy.” or, “I’m trying to be in a happy place in y life.”  The question I want to throw out there today is “why do her have to try so hard to be happy?”  Why does it have to take so much effort? Why do we have to waste so much energy just TRYING to be happy?  Shouldn’t being happy not require so much effort? Why should we have to do whatever it takes to make us happy?  Why can’t happiness just show up?  These are some of the questions that I ask myself as I’m just sitting and thinking.  What about you?

Please share your comments

The Email That Never Leaves Your Outbox

I wrote an email once.  It was long and sort of detailed.  I was able to describe my feelings the best way I know how…sometimes. I talked about how I lost this and lost that; how I thought they were this or thought they were doing that.  It really was a powerful letter.  I mean, I poured my soul–what was left of it–onto my electronic paper.  My words were sharp and ready.  Was it too much?  No.  Was I letting all of it out? Sure.  I could go on and on about what I could have and should have and actually did say but, the thing of it is this:  I never sent it.  It stayed right there in my Outbox.  Sure I wanted to type the recipient’s address and send it on its way, but I didn’t.  The point I’m trying to make here is that there really are things that should be left unsaid.  There are some things that need to be carried to God and not to someone else. There are way too many things that we can never take back.  True, we can think whatever we want but, once they leave your mouth, all bets are off.  It changes everything. That’s one thing I’ve learned in these short years of my life.  When you throw those “rocks”, they don’t come back.  When you hit send, that email isn’t coming back.  Whatever you say has a one-way trip to whomever your saying it to.  You have to be careful.

Then again, you can always delete the email…

Rant: Mental Health

Good morning.  I want to take a few moments to talk about a subject that is the elephant in the room.  Mental illness.  Now, I am no expert nor am I qualified to diagnose anything.  The only thing I am qualified to do is pray for those who suffer from it and encourage them as well as their families to ensure the person suffering from it gets help right away.

There is a patron here that comes in quite frequently.  It’s very obvious that she is suffering.  Among all of the snickering and evil looks that she is being given by other patrons, the reality is that she is indeed suffering from a mental illness.  Admittedly, I was a bit annoyed by her presence but, after a while, I realized that she is suffering and may or may not know.  This is why I can only pray for her.  I can only ask God to move in her life so that she is able to get the help she needs.  From what I can tell she is not in the best place financially.  This is another issue that some who suffer from this have to deal with.  Treatment can be expensive.  No money, no treatment.  No treatment, more suffering.  It’s sad, really.

If you’re reading this, I am asking that you take the time to pray for those that are suffering.  They may be part of your family or you may not even know them at all.  What matters is that you ask God for their healing.