The Absence of Fathers

I have a friend who is a black pastor. This man has spoken some pretty valuable things into my life over the years. I have watched his family survive some difficult things. He keeps smiling and moving forward. Good man.

He said something to me that has affected me for years. It was a very specific statement, but it has broad implications. While pastoring a small storefront church in a bad neighborhood, he made this observation.

The biggest problem in the black community, is the absence of fathers.

He was telling me that the majority of his church members were single mothers. Most were very young, with several young children. Almost all of them lived in housing projects and didn’t have much hope for getting out. They were left to take care of themselves. It was all they could do to raise these kids alone.

That conversation bothered me for years. After that, I saw single mothers differently. Before, I just saw another person with their own set of problems. We all have stuff to deal with. My life isn’t a fairy tale story, either. Unless Shrek counts.

After he said all that, I really had to think about what it means to be a father. Honestly, based on my current situation, I may not be qualified to even discuss this one. We have four amazing kids, I love them all. They are wonderful people. But, I have a laundry list of failures with them over the last 23 years. However, the facts are the same.

If you have been reading my stuff for a while, you know how I feel about marriage. I believe that our purpose here, in life, is to learn and develop relationships. The relationship with your wife is the absolute pinnacle of human relationships. It is the mirror image of all God wanted us to understand about salvation. It is the example of the bridegroom doing whatever was best for his bride. No matter the cost to him. It is meant to be selfless love played out over a lifetime. That’s how it was meant to be.

What we see now is a lot of selfish relationships that completely disregard the damage done. Two people hook up and have their fun together. They enjoy the relationship until it becomes work or starts to carry responsibilities. Then pressure builds. Someone isn’t having fun anymore. Someone needs to be happy. Someone doesn’t feel the love. Someone leaves. Once there are kids involved, someone’s life just changed course. Not usually for the better.

I am not bashing those of you who have been through divorce or separation. I am not bashing anyone. I am just making a point. Calm down. Unravel yourself and listen.

When God sets something in motion, it because it’s a good thing. When He gives a commandment, it’s because it is something to make life better. People get all bent out of shape about rules and laws. They like them fine when it keeps everyone else in line, though. Like those lines on the highway. They are put there to keep things moving without anyone dying. It’s not about being controlled, it’s about keeping you safe around other people. Get it?

God’s plan was for us to take a wife, have children and create safe, loving homes to raise them. We teach those kids selfless love by example. We love that momma because we love her, not because of it benefiting us. We don’t build a marriage on selfish, childish behavior. We don’t get up and leave because we found someone else. We don’t run away from problems. We take a stand and act like a real man. We raise strong kids who can raise another strong generation like that. Not by abandoning our families. We make the next generation better by showing them how to love someone unconditionally. By staying there even when it isn’t making you happy everyday.

Yes. I do know what I am talking about read the Legacy article. We understand this pretty well.

If you are a dad, take that responsibility serious. Those kids need you. They need you to teach them how to raise a family, so they can do it someday. They need you to teach them how to love children. They need to see you taking care of momma. They need you to be an example of Christ in the home. Loving your wife like Christ loved the church. Not a creepy religious nut, just a man following the example Christ set. Not concerned about what other people think. Just them.

The next time you see a single mom, wrestling with her kids in the grocery store, think about this. She is struggling to survive because some man got her pregnant, and left her to do this all alone. She is a hero for even keeping those kids alive. She is a miracle worker for getting them through life by whatever means possible. Stop looking down on her. Go looking for the guy who got her pregnant and left. He is the one who needs to face this.

Sure. There’s a million variables. Everyone’s situation is somewhat unique. Got that.

But. Consider this. How different would this country be if every dad took that job more serious than any other. Love momma like Christ loved the church. Teach kids about life by example. Love your family unconditionally, even when it isn’t benefitting you. Keep them in focus as your highest priorities and as your purpose. What would the world look like if men took that role?

Just a thought.

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