Monday, October 28, 2013

Restoring my faith.

Restoring my faith.

There is little that men can do that will restore my faith in their half of our species.  I've held a pretty low opinion of men as a whole for quite some time now.  That coupled with my reentry into singlehood hasn't done much to bolster my opinion.  I knew this about myself and wasn't sure quite what do with it.  After all I'm raising two men to be.  Simply saying I wasn't going to raise boys to become men like a lot of men I know isn't enough.  I needed a more solid foundation.

As I am known to do I started observing, trying to see what I can that is good in the men around me.  Watching for men that I knew that who were faithful partners, strong shoulders for the loved ones and worked hard to ethically provide for the families.  Not looking for perfection, just consistent good character.

Oddly enough I didn't have to look far.  My love recently said to me 'your father, he's a good man'.  I will confess to you that my step-dad and I have had our share of rough spots.  We didn't talk for a solid year and once we began talking again, it took another solid year until we were on stable ground.  I'll cop to most of that breakdown being my fault.  Although he could have handled my words differently, I started the riff and I own that.  He could have continued it much longer but once the opportunity presented to heal our relationship, he began working on it with me.  I'm sure neither one of us have done much looking back now that we are in relationship again.

Often now my ex has a habit of throwing that riff in my father's face, pointing to it and accusing me of all kinds of horrible things, as if he was totally uninvolved, uh huh sure.  My dad stays calm, he knows we're on solid ground now.  He knows that my ex is just operating as the enemy is known to do, he's being an accuser.  That doesn't come from a place that benefits any of us.  So dad once again shows his character pushes those hurtful words aside and comes to a place of peace with it.

Dad has been there with me for every single court date that I asked him to be there.  He gets up at the crack of dawn is at my house/apartment or wherever I need him to be by 7 am and drives us there.  He pays for parking, doesn't say much and stands by my side.  Dad and I might not have deep conversations while this is happening, but he's with me.  He's showing that he loves me, he's showing his character.  He's being a great dad.  I appreciate it much more than he can know and we joke about needing to have better father daughter dates.

Reflecting on this has bolstered my opinion of one man but what does it do for me in regards to the rest of the male population?  To be honest, not much, he's my dad, he's supposed to be good me.  Of course lots of dads aren't but he is and that's great.  This lead me to more observation and more introspection on my part.  Outside of my dad and men his age, what about men my age?  Are there guys out there that stand by their families at age 26 or 36 or 46?  Are there men in those age categories that stand by their spouses and partners, are faithful, love God and others and work hard for their families?  Are there men that have been with their partners for 5 or 10 years and still love their wives?  Still enjoy them and don't regret having married them?  Maybe a part of me believes that it gets easier if you've stuck it out for 20 or 30 years not to regret having married your spouse.  But how do you feel after 5 or 10 when the kids are still little and there's mess and noise and no alone time and sex has to be scheduled to actually happen?

Again more looking, and again I didn't need to look far.  I found my next door neighbor up early in the morning loving his wife and family well.  They're having a birthday party for their 5 year old.  He was up early scrubbing down lawn chairs and doing whatever else was on the to do list.  Pulling his weight in the family, not leaving the burden solely on the shoulders of his beautiful Brazilian wife.  Yet in the middle of him doing that he had time to say hello and was not grumbling as he served those he loves.  His attitude was simple, this was what had to be done for the party, so I'm going to help because this is for someone I love.

Perhaps it's sad that simple things like helping with a child's birthday party is what it takes to restore my faith in men, because women throw parties like that for their kids all the time.  I know I did it, without the help of my ex.  He actually preferred to 'pay' other people to help with our children's birthday parties then to show up and scrub a lawn chair or two himself.  It's sad that a little thing like that is so noticed by me, but it's noticed because of my story.  Where going to get a gallon of milk was too much of an inconvenience for my ex or grabbing diapers was not his job or going to the ER with me as I was miscarrying was a burden and made me his cross to bear.  He always showed up in time to take the credit for it happening, but for us he was a day late and a dollar short.  As a man he was weighed, measured and found wanting.

But I am learning, there are lots of men out there that do these things and much more for their loved ones.  There are men that will be measured and be able to stand tall, knowing that them being there for their families is a treasure.  Not a burden.  Some of them do these things because they believe that it is their job as a member of their family.  And some do it just because they love the people that they share a house with, whether it's their job or not.  As I type this, my love is outside cutting my grass, not because it's his job, this isn't his house, just because he loves me and it needs to be done and he's able to do it.

Little by little I'm allowing my heart to open up to the possibility that men of character exist, that the men that appear to have character can maintain it over the long haul.  That's the zenith of trust for me.  But in my heart I still have trouble believing that people can maintain their character in the long range.  In the battle ground of my heart I'm always looking, waiting for those who I think may be good to prove that they really are not.

But I'm trying to remind myself that my dad has been going to court with me for over a year. That's a pretty long time.  Chances are if he were going to bail on me, he'd have done it by now.  Chances are if my neighbor Rob was going to stop loving his family he'd have stopped before now.  Their oldest just celebrated his 5th birthday, I bet he's scrubbed a lot of lawn chairs in that time.

In God's Word there are a lot of stories of people who start out in strong faith and character but fail to finish well.  Think about David, his downfall with Bathsheba and the glossing over the rape of his daughter by his son. Not a well finished life.  Not character that lasted right up until the last breath.  Or how about Abraham passing off Sarah as his sister, harloting her out so to speak just to save his own neck.  Again, not character and faith that lasted when tested.

I just want to know where are the people in this life that can hold to a strong moral foundation till the end of their time here on earth.  There are those who never start with a moral foundation of an substance, but of those of us who do, how many of us finish with it still in tact?  Not perfection mind you.  Just a consistent striving to do what is right, to be faithful and loving, and honorable, to find good work and to do it.

I have faith in God that those of us who screw up are allowed to repent and redeem our lives at any point, but I also believe that we pay for those screw ups, whether on this side of heaven or the next.  The thing about Character is that generally it is consistent.  I am not usually surprised when someone I know 'fails' again, because it's the same thing they've done in the past.  I'm more than likely not going to make it through a week of eating well because I rarely make it through a week of eating well.  My character is consistent, and lacking in that area.  So the challenge, the faith that I'm lacking is that the good parts of our character are just as consistent as the bad.  We can hold onto those, we don't all degenerate and if we do it's by choice.

I'm thankful to be able to choose to surround myself with people who make the choice to have good character. And to know it's a choice for them as it is a choice for me.

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