Friday, January 31, 2014

Button Your Blouse and Go Home




I’m a fifty-year-old woman looking for her father—on Facebook with a poster.  How pathetic is that?  I loved my mother and know she did the best she could, but did she really think it wouldn’t matter to me to know who my father was? To be fair to her, for thirty-five years this was exactly the case.  Not a surprise, though, considering the subsequent men who filled the role of dad. 

They gave fatherhood a bad name.

We don’t hear much talk these days about heritage, birthright, and parentage. Well, maybe parentage—when someone wants child support.  Then we go all DNA on one another and haul lazy asses into courts.  Yet for the most part, anything goes when it comes to parenting configurations.  Teen parents—not a problem.  Children out of wedlock—they won’t know the difference. One night stands resulting in single parenting—exhausting but doable. Sperm donors, egg donors—the miracle of modern medicine.

Where is the emphasis on a child being born to a mother and a father in a configuration that gives the child the best chance of knowing and growing with both biological parents?  Meaning making an effort to have children born into healthy marriages.

I can hear the protests over that statement.  We don’t need a piece of paper to keep us committed to one another and to be good parents!   It’s enough if someone loves and can provide for a child—it doesn’t have to be a biological parent!  It’s who the individuals are, not the configuration that makes the difference!

And I agree.  I have seen all sorts of configurations work.  There are best-case scenarios for each.  The teens who got married to raise their baby and made it. The teens who handed the baby over to a loving grandparent to raise.  The single woman who gave her baby up for adoption.  The unmarried couple with the blended family who are thriving.  Two dads raising a girl.  Two moms raising boys.  I’ve seen all these configurations work beautifully.

The point isn’t that they CAN’T work.  The point is that there is a better way for things to work—a way that creates the least amount of fallout in a child’s life.  There is a configuration that produces the least amount of identity crises and excess baggage possible. But it’s politically incorrect to say that a man and a woman in a healthy marriage is the best possible environment for a child to be born into.  That it’s the GOLD standard.

I can practically feel daggers flying my waysome even coming from adults who had the kind of childhoods that would make a person cry.

Do away with marriage and watch what happens to our children.

Healthy marriage means there's commitment.  

When I joined the US Army, the recruiter made me sign a four-year contract.  I tried to convince him we didn’t need this piece of paper between us—I would never desert my country.  He made me sign it anyway.  Some mornings when 5:00 AM PT rolled around, or another blasted 3:30 AM alert sounded, I knew in my treacherous little heart that if I had been given an easy option of ditching my commitment, I would have seriously considered it.

We make government officials take an Oath of Office—to put it squarely into writing what their duties, responsibilities, and allegiances  are because it’s important for the involved parties to be on the same sheet of music, and for them to have something to refer to when life gets complicated.  And so we can legally bring them before congress—but that’s another matter.

Fewer adults want to be held responsible to commitments than ever before.  More adults feel they have a right to exit relationships that aren’t fun anymore.

Marriage is meant to see you through the not-so-fun times.  It supposes you are someone whose sole purpose in life is not about constant and self-centered pleasure and gratification.  It supposes you understand that life has aspects of it that are difficult, uncomfortable, frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking.  And it supposes you understand the joy that comes through perseverance and/or overcoming and growing old together.

A healthy marriage makes you better than you would have been alone.

A healthy marriage protects children.  

It doesn’t leave them to fend for themselves, or live below the poverty line, or expose them to the increased dangers present when non-biological parents raise them.  It doesn’t force them to choose between loyalties.  It doesn't cause them to flounder in the questions of:  who am I and where do I belong?

A healthy marriage protects them from these tragedies and so much more.

And yet we are more cavalier with our relationships and sex lives than we are about our dental hygiene.  Most of us wouldn’t consider leaving the house without brushing our teeth.  There would be no dilemma:  should I brush my teeth today, or not? 

Tooth-brushing is not up for negotiation.

But a child that might result from sex is. 

I don’t hear many people saying:  no sex outside of marriage.  It's not negotiable.  I want my children having a decent shot of knowing and being nurtured by both his biological parents, thereby creating the least amount of baggage he’ll carry into adulthood. 

Sadder than our society not meeting this standard, though, is the fact that the standard isn’t even held up as a standard anymore.  We’ve gone so far from this configuration, it makes us uncomfortable to dwell upon—and since we didn’t have a contract, we can dump it and ridicule it.  It’s not a fun standard.

I wish we’d show our young people footage of lost, confused, and neglected children—sort of the way we show pregnant drug users footage of shaking, inconsolable babies, born screaming for a fix because their mothers got them addicted.

Gut wrenching.

Why is so little emphasis placed on the relationship environment into which we bring children? Why are we not working on becoming the kind of individuals that make good marriage partners? Why are we willing to accept less than the best for ourselves?

I understand that life happens; nothing’s perfect or foolproof.  Sometimes we have to go to Plan B or Plan C.  But why not desire and go after Plan A first

Maybe too many people see it as archaic—something meant for religious nuts.  Yet, history shows it’s a configuration that works whether you’re a nut or not, just like the law of gravity works whether you believe in it or not.

Becoming a religious nut has been good for me.  Not because I needed a crutch or a surrogate father.  I had somehow managed the healthy marriage thing on my own.  Probably because of an ultra-loving grandmother (Oma Heidenstecker) who was there for me at a critical time. 

See, alternate configurations can work. 

No, what I found in God was a worldview that jived with what my senses were taking in. It bore truth.  It helped me make sense of the world, have compassion for it.

And then somewhere between experiencing the reality of a heavenly Father, and watching my husband father our children, this thought (that I should have had years before) finally arrived:  I wonder who my biological father is…

Hence the pathetic 50-year old with a poster on Facebook.

Sigh.

I leave you with this:  before you begin a casual sexual relationship because you're bored or lonely, before you get drunk and hook up with your cousin’s buddy who's in town for the weekend, before you decide to forego marriage to live together, before you begin an affair with the married produce man at Krogers, before you rush into a marriage everyone has called a train wreck in the making—think about the fallout for the child who could be conceived therein. 

Then button your blouse, zip up your jeans, and go home.

Everyone will be better off.

And if life has already gone awry, take comfort that God uses every single part of our livesthat which we have brought upon ourselves, and that which was brought upon usto our ultimate good. Just don't use that as an excuse to live your life so it's only serving yourself.

All in Goodwill,
~Lisa

14 comments:

  1. This is a heartbreaking and wonderful blog. I wish I could help. But I love you.

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    1. (Had to fix a typo--you KNOW how we writers are...)

      *Whew* As always, you go for the jugular and hit it spot on.

      I pursued the gold standard--not once but twice--with the best of intentions. And both eventually tarnished. While I was not innocent, the divorces were not of my own making yet used by God to save my life.

      I've always hoped that the damage done to my step-children was minimal and continue those relationships under the Lord's direction. They have made less-than-gold-standard choices as well but I'm proud of the fact that they make them work. Sort of. I love and support them as much as I can.

      I'm still looking for the ultimate Golden Boy if that is what God wants for me. In the meanwhile, I've got him by my side.

      Still praying for your quest.

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    2. Thank God (literally) that He uses every single thing in our lives--the things we bring on ourselves and the things that are brought upon us--to our ultimate good. How comforting is that.

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  3. I literally read this out loud to my husband (we're traveling right now). His response: "I wish that's something everyone would read." Couldn't agree more. Bless you. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Rhonda--and bless you for all the support over the last year.

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  4. I agree with Rhonda. Everyone needs this. At the very least it is a conversation that needs to be had. Thank you so much for NOT being politically correct!

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    1. I agree--it is a conversation that needs to happen--in a way that addresses the very real natural consequences.

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  5. Wow, you said this so well! Amen sista! Preach it!!!

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    1. Thanks, Kristi!--though I didn't mean to preach it--I think I was venting!!!

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  6. You just gave Huckabee a run for his money, Lisa, and I think he's one of the best at driving home truth. But you know of what you speak, and he can only make observations of the same scenario. God bless you, and I pray that you will see the end result of your search as aligning with His perfect will for you, whatever that end may be. The journey alone will teach you many things and we will all benefit as you feel led to share. Keep writing. Your words will find the destined audiences.

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    1. Thank you for that encouragement, Nancy--truly.

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