Yesterday not only marked the beginning of a new month, but it was the beginning of a new and more intense focus for me. Both as a husband and as a father, I decided it was time for me to prayerfully refocus on family life. A more intense focus coupled with a need to fortify is the way things ought to go. If you’re an astute leader of your home, then you’ll know when things need an adjustment. You’ll know when things need correction, big or small. What I’m talking about here is the whole of family life, not just selected parts. Prayer, worship, catechesis, finances, eating habits, home improvements, yard work, hospitality, long-term plans, etc. come into play. Every area of family life is brought into focus and shaped for the better.
As some of you may know, our family has been through a lot over the past couple of years. We’ve experienced a lot of heartache and turmoil. Our physical health has suffered. So has our spiritual health. Last year’s ordeal of fighting a legal battle to keep custody of our oldest daughter really did drain us spiritually, emotionally, and in various other ways. Yet today, I dare say that I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in a long time. I have more joy now and for the future. In various ways, God has shown Himself to be faithful in the midst of all this. He has used these circumstances (and is still using them) for our good. Even though Emma is not living with us at the moment, she’s probably closer to us now than before all this started. And that’s quite a blessing.
Being the leader of my home I recognize that I need to be more disciplined and focused. I need to better equip myself so that I can lead and serve my family better. That’s what servant leadership is about. At the same time, I also recognize we’re still healing. And there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done. We need to grow in accordance with that reality. God has used the events of the last couple of years to show me my weaknesses, especially as a parent. That’s cause for praise!
In certain Christian circles, we hear a lot of talk about the so-called “Benedict Option.” It’s the notion that there’s a time and place for Christians to step back from the culture, take stock of the situation, and disengage for a time in order to better ourselves spiritually. That’s overly simplistic, but you get the idea. You might say that what I’m trying to do right now is a type of “Benedict Option” at the family level. It’s a time to refocus and replenish our resources, so to speak. To be sure, I’m not going to give up all of my outside commitments. However, I will draw back quite a bit. As many Christian fathers can tell you, it’s very easy to let things on the outside become a distraction to the detriment of family life.
My previous posts about our cultural decline being especially manifested in this president election cycle are certainly a bit gloomy. Yet there’s a providential silver lining in all of that. Like many others, this would be the time of year I’d be volunteering for campaigns and the like. Much of my free time would have been spent trying to help elect a candidate. But the righteous candidate didn’t win the presidential nomination. In fact, it doesn’t even look like the Constitution Party candidate will get on the ballot here in Virginia. And there’s really nothing going on down-ballot. The handwriting is one the wall and it’s almost as if the outcome of the election is already here. All of that being said, this is a golden opportunity for me (and everyone else) to focus on their families. In a sense, it’s liberating.
I know other people may have other distractions, but the point is made. There are times when we as husbands/fathers need to step back and prayerfully change course in the direction of our families. It’s a time for fortify and strengthen. We need to realize that by doing so we’re making investments–and we’ll never live to see most of the fruit of those investments. They’re generational in nature. We need to love our wives as Christ loves His church. We need to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The immediate result will be a healthy family culture which will exist to glorify God. Why ought we to do these things? Because we were called to this.