Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Missing Fathers

I took a day to be alone with God, a “personal retreat day”. It was long overdue, and I was looking forward to just spend time with God. My life has been very busy the past several months, and the idea of just spending time with Him gave me a feeling of both expectation and apprehension. I’m writing this at the end of that day, trying to stay focused on just one thing He showed me.

I’ll try to keep this all rated-PG in nature, but I guarantee it is not G-rated material. Stop reading now if you are easily offended or wish to shield your eyes from some ugly truths.

At one point in the day, I drove by a store specializing in adult materials. I could add that this chain of stores is heavily tied to witchcraft (although that is not advertised) and that it sits as a snare, the temporary pleasures of this world appealing to the lustful desires of men and the controlling urges of women. I was stopped at a traffic light on my way to an inexpensive restaurant about a mile away, and my eyes were drawn to 3 people outside the adult store: a woman and two men. The woman appeared to be urging the men to follow her into the store; the men lingered outside for about a minute before entering after her. The light turned green, and I drove on towards dinner.

About half-way through my meal, the threesome walked into the restaurant. Same clothes… same hair… but they were decidedly younger than I had thought when viewing them from a distance. No younger than mid-teens and no older than mid-twenties, this trio pulled at my attention, captured my thoughts and led me to pray. I’d occasionally glanced at them as I finished my meal. The girl was short, slender and pretty. The boys appeared awkward and unsure, being led by their female friend with each step; I was reminded of the Proverbs 7.

As I looked at the threesome, I was struck with a sad thought, a picture of the lives they were choosing and wondering if they had fathers that were actively involved in their lives. Fathers… not just sperm-donors who hang around for a while; not just ATMs and ugly lounge chair decorations; men who take an active interest in raising their children into the men and women God created them to be. We all fall short of the awesome calling of perfect parenthood, and I don’t mean to be critical of a person or cultural demographic. However, the sad truth is that our society has been lacking real fathers for so long that we don’t really know what that looks like anymore.

Real fathers teach their daughters to set high expectations for the boyfriends and future spouse. They rebuke, correct and train their children to become forward-thinking and responsible adults. They lead their sons, modeling manhood even as they are still trying to figure it out themselves.

There are so many myths about manhood out there: a real man is physically strong, doesn’t cry, is a reckless risk-taker, and is helpless to his own sexual desires. The most effective lies reflect an element of truth, and so it’s easy to buy into them. But what is man really like and where can a culture that is so short on real fathers look for answers about manhood?

So, I’m sorry to leave you with a cliff-hanger question, and I do have some ideas, but that will have to wait for future post.

copyright ©2014 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Welcome to 2014

After some time away, I thought I'd write just to say: "Hi, I'm back." I've been busy just keeping up with life. Nothing bad; just busy.

I've also created a Twitter account, having held back on that for so long. If you have been encouraged or positively impacted by this blog site, please send me a "tweet" and let me know.

@Mitchell_Malloy


Now, I don't want to sound like a pessimist, but I'm not very optimistic about 2014. I think it's going to be a tough year. I believe I'm not the only one who's been overly busy the past several months. The world is busier than it's ever been without a corresponding increase in "value". Sure, we have a lot of new tech gadgets and more entertainment options than ever before, but Big Brother has started prying into the details of our lives. Any IT professional will tell you that collecting the information is just the first step. It's a scary time for Americans... but we're all too busy with work and entertaining ourselves to take real notice.

Perhaps it's a sense of hopelessness: "What can we do about it anyway?". Or maybe it's hard to prioritize: "Which cause should I support?". Or possibly it's mistrust. There's so much information available, but it's difficult to discern what is legitimate and what is hype.

I offer a simple test that tends to work over time: Listen to what is said and watch to see if subsequent actions match the message. Look back at historical information where it's available and apply the same test retrospectively. 

I was once accused by someone as "unforgiving" because I didn't choose to trust that person. I had observed that they were not trustworthy in certain areas, and I informed that person that I forgave them but did not trust them.

Trust and love are similar in that both are a choice. I can choose to love a person unconditionally despite the hurts from the past. But trust is different from love in that we wisely put up boundaries for untrustworthy people to earn back trust; it's not unconditional. I can love someone unconditionally while at the same time facilitating a safe environment to the rebuild the relationship. In other words, unconditional love (deciding to give what is in the best interest of another) does not mean you give in to all the desires of the other person. 

"Forgive" does not mean "forget". It means we choose not to hold them accountable for injustice against us and that we work to rebuild the relationship. A healthy rebuilding of the relationship takes deliberate effort. It requires mutually identifying issues, open discussion about the issues, and active resolution of the issues. It's hard and it takes effort on both sides. If both parties aren't ready for that kind of effort, then the timing is probably not right. And while it may never be the right time, a forgiving person positions their attitude to remain ready. 

So welcome to 2014. May it be a year where each of us makes healthy choices, especially with respect to the issues in our lives, our relationships, and our culture. That would make it a truly great year.

copyright ©2014 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)