I am also a huge fan of "the family." I think about it a lot. What are the roles of the father? What are the roles of the mother? What is the role of the family as one, single unit? Because that's what a family is -- one unit.
How different would the world be if everyone understood the importance of "the family?"
I have been reading Father Fiction; Chapters for a Fatherless Generation by Donald Miller and, I'm going to be completely honest with you, it's been difficult. The book has been gently pushing me to dig deeper into my heart to surface thoughts and feelings I purposely locked away long ago. As painfully cliche as that sounds...ick.
In Father Fiction, Miller talks about a book he read a while back that was written by Dwight D. Eisenhower called At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends. In it, Eisenhower portrayed a inspiring sense of confidence. Donald wrote, "And more than this, he believed the world needed him--that if he didn't exist, things would fall apart. He believed he was called to be a great man. I wondered, as I read, where he got this confidence."
Miller found the explanation for this confidence early in the book. Dwight explained that from an early age, his "parents assumed, and taught their children, that if their children weren't alive, their family couldn't function." His parents made him feel like he was needed and, therefore, he believed he was. The man went on to become the 34th President of the Unites States of America. Dude...
What would the world be like if every child was raised according to this idea? The idea that they were vital to their family, to their community, and to this world.
Donald Miller comes from a very similar background as me. He came from a single mother who worked her behind off for him and his sister. I came from a single mother who worked her behind off for me and my brother. His dad was hardly in the picture while he was growing up and the same goes for mine.
Consequently, I grew up thinking the exact opposite of Eisenhower and, apparently, so did Miller. He saw how hard his mom worked for him and that left him feeling like a burden rather than some vital part of his family. My mom would fight her hardest to make me feel otherwise but, though she never complained once, I saw how emotionally and physically tired she was. And I knew it was because of me.
"The ramifications of believing something as untrue as this are extensive," says Donald. I couldn't agree more. I never once attributed my mother's exhaustion to the lack of husband and father. In my eyes, it was always because of my existence.
Though I realize today that I was very wrong about all of it, I still subconsciously worry about being a hindrance. I don't ever call anyone to keep me up when ever I have to make those long, late night drives to or from Covington, New Orleans, or Baton Rouge. I was dating a guy a while back who asked me to set a pace in the relationship I was comfortable at and I just couldn't do it. Things remained at a complete standstill because I didn't want to be too needy and I didn't want any pressure from me to burden him. And I always felt terrible during the semester when my guy friends had to walk me out to my car that was parked practically in East Egypt. At times, I even went so far as to lie and say I was parked right outside.
I am fully aware that those thoughts are illogical. And look, I'm certainly not trying to pull a sympathy card. God knows the cross I carry is lighter than most. My point is that perhaps Eisenhower had it right. Maybe what we are all really searching for is belonging. Maybe he was right in that the world could be fixed of its problems if every child understood the necessity of their existence.
[The Holy Family! My fave!]
Just some ideas to chew on.