Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vicious Cycles - The Sins of Our Fathers

Parenting is "hard". I heard that growing up ...but, obviously, had no appreciation for the truth of it. I've done a lot of stuff in my nearly 40 years, and many of those things (jobs, decisions, etc.) were certanly difficult ...but do not hold a candle to the job, the duty, the passion, the art ....of parenting. Our children are an investment in the future ...our own future for certain. They are not a commodity we can sell to a buyer. They, literally, carry on the family business.

I don't want to make parenting sound joy-less. It is not, and if you are a parent I don't even need to quantify or explain that. But you can nod your head in agreement ....that it is the most difficult of God-ordained duties. To that ...guess to whom my frustrations are often directed toward? Yup, to that very more-than-a-commodity in which I have so much invested, in which I am so passionate about. Like any inventor who has birthed a creation consumes you, it becomes you.

But this invention, our children, have a free-will of their very own don't they? And praise God, by the way! Despite my frustration when they don't do what I want ...I surely don't want my children to merely be a literal mirror image of me. I want them to grow, I want them to struggle and know the joy of overcoming, I want them to live life to its fullest.

I would wager that my dad wanted the exact same things for me. Probably still does ...even with me at middle age and him an older man. I recall a lot of my own father's frustration being directed at me. I know, now, so much of it wasn't due to me or anything I had necessarily done. But I know his own circumstances in life must have often made him feel helpless to steer me as he saw fit, and I undoubtedly made directing "me" a difficult venture. All water under the bridge ..or is it?

I love the old song.. "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" (Simon & Garfunkel for those old enough to remember). I can see my life as a bridge over troubled waters in many ways. Sometimes I fall back into the waters .but always seem to find myself reflecting from atop that bridge ...recollecting what went on, how I might have prevented it, what I could have done differently, and ultimately settling on just accepting that "life has happened" and I just have to move forward (read Ecclesiastes in the Bible).

This morning I was reading in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel. "David" ....a boy turned King, apparently by God's design and will, was considered a man after God's own heart. Wow!! What a title. Forget the Pulitzer Prize or any other accolade. If I could be thought of, much less labelled, as a man after God's own heart ...that'll do it for me!! Stick a fork in me ...I'm done! No further affirmation or confirmaton needed. But I began thinking about David's own heart. As you read the story of this anointed's life ....he was a murderer, an adulterer. I read a commentary that even labelled David as an "ineffective father"! Ouch! 2 Samuel 1 talks about him killing this young Amalekite man ..for claiming to have killed King Saul (David's predecessor). David mourned!! Tore his clothes, as was apparently the custom of mourning in their day and culture. Scripture implies that this young Amalekite man was lying ....likely, to gain favor in the kingdom. 1 Samuel's report indicates that Saul killed himself; a matter of nobility, rather than accepting defeat during battle. Whatever the facts would appear that David, as coldly, killed this man ...for "killing God's annointed". This wouldn't be the last time. A love for the Lord, yet a struggle with lust, and anger in his own life. David's sons had their own troubles. Read about "Amnon" in 2 Samuel 13. There was incest in their household. Yet in all his life ...David chased after God's own heart.

Are the sins of our fathers still passed on to us? Do we become that which we hate? I have found, in myself, traits of my own father ...many of the good, but certainly some of the less desirable. I've learned a lot about his own childhood as I have grown. It, too, was "hard" ..harder than what I have known. Hmmm.. it would almost appear he has shielded me from the things he endured ...things he struggled with in his own father, whom he loved dearly. I did too ...but I only knew him as "Grandpa" ..and the best one in the world. Funny ...that is precisely how my children see my dad middle son especially. He has hung the moon, and does no wrong.

Life truly can be a vicious cycle ...a chain of events seemingly out of our control. No excuses though. We are our own unique person, and have our own will. And much of that cycle of life is "good". I'm gonna' be careful about becoming that which I hate ...but I'll also be careful about altogether hating that which I have become. My dad loved / loves me ..without question, and wanted / wants the best in the world for me ..just as I do my own children. Life... it's just gonna' come with some baggage. We'll pilfer through the baggage and take what we can use ..and the stuff we won't use ....we'll let it lay there. And our children will do the same.

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