Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
- Colossians 3:19, King James Version
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
- Ephesians 6:1-4, King James Version
As those of you that are long-time readers or have looked over the archives of some of my previous writing know, my father passed away 2 years ago, this past fall. When I was on my way back from an extended overseas tour in Germany 2 years prior to that, he was in the hospital and it didn’t look like he was going to make it out. I had just checked into my new unit and immediately went on leave to travel to North Texas to be at his side. I didn’t even change out of my uniform before the 6-hour drive, just wanting to get there all the faster – and besides, I figured the old man would get a kick out seeing me in my uniform. That is one of those very surreal moments in the life of a person – seeing the man that you literally thought was a super-hero like Super Man, humbled, lying in a hospital bed, weak, and seemingly on his last legs. He didn’t think he was going to make it out of that bed, either, and we spent that first night sitting up, talking.
Although we covered many different topics that night – it was almost like a bed-side confessional, he told me things he had done in his past that he was proud of, and many more that he was not so proud of – one of the things he said to me in that dimly-lit hospital room really stuck with me. He looked up at me after taking a long pause and talking about the mistakes of his life and said “Timmy, (he still called me that up to the very end, even though I had almost as much gray hair on my head at the time as he did) the legacy a man leaves on this world isn’t in the money that he made, the jobs he held, or the accomplishments in his life that others point to as success. The legacy a man leaves on this world is his children, how he raised them and how they turned out. I have raised 6 beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful children. I know that not just from seeing it with my own biased eyes, but from hearing what others have to say about all of them. I may not be wealthy, I may not have much to leave behind when I go, but I know that I have left the world a better place because I will have left my children in it.”
He told me this and then apologized for having divorced my mother when I was 11 and leaving my hometown to return to Dallas to find work. He apologized because he recognized the fact that out of all my siblings, I was the one that had missed the most time with him. It wasn’t just that suddenly he was gone at 11, because he had been unfaithful to my mother for years and those last few years they were married, he wasn’t home much. He wasn’t there when my 7th grade football team would go undefeated. He wasn’t there for my first date, to give fatherly advice, or for the first heartache. He wasn’t there to guide me through the trials of the teenage years, a time when I would fall in with a very rough crowd. He did return to town with his second family when I was 17, but being the rebellious teenager that I was, I held so much of that against him. He knew that, and probably understood many of the feelings, as his father died when he was 14 and he had to quit school and go to work to support his mother and younger siblings. Certainly, that had to sting much worse than what I went through. I could still visit my dad, and did, but the relationship deteriorated during those years.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I came to understand my father, and though our lives did take many different turns, I came to realize that I was much more like him than I thought, and not just because we look so much alike at the same ages. For different reasons, I also missed out on my own children’s teenage years for the most part. I missed birthdays, school events, holidays…that’s not something I can ever get back. I found that while I related well with my children up until about the age of 12, I lost touch with them for a few years. It wasn’t just the missed time, it was that while I had an example to follow for those early years, I was lost for those years when so many changes were happening to them physically and emotionally. I buried myself in my work and job, and was gone almost as much as I was home. I lost that connection with them. Now, I have worked very hard over the past few years to re-establish that connection, but I can do nothing about the time that was lost.
Now I can hear those of you that are still with me at this point asking why I am going into all of this, and what does that title have to do with anything? Firstly, the title is from a book written in the 1862 by the great Russian author Ivan Turgenev. In it, he displays the problems that parents have relating with their children and the differences in generations. I told this bit of my own story to illustrate that very point, as well, in a personal way, to get to this point – those of us that have raised this younger generation coming up now, whether you call them Millennials, the snowflake generation, or even looking at the shenanigans of the Women’s March this past weekend – we have failed our children. And to be even more specific – men, we have failed our children and our wives.
Take the time now to go back up to the top of this article and look at those words from scripture. Many people like to make statements like “when you come into this world, no one hands you a manual of how to live life” or “kids don’t come with instruction manuals”. In my military days, I would give a much harsher answer, but let me just say that sentiment is false. Our Lord gave to us an instruction manual for every issue that might arise during our life, handed down from generation to generation, passed by oral history at first, and finally penned. It is the Bible. Read it. I guarantee you that if you read it and pray on it, asking for discernment, you will find the answers you seek.
Now, men…it would be very simple to say that we have allowed this generation to get to this point because society is structured in a way that has created this. It’s Hollywood’s fault for the movies they make. It’s the music industry’s fault for the lyrics they put out. It’s the schools’ fault for the instruction they give. All of that is a cop-out and you know it. It is clear in scripture that the man is charged with being the leader of the household, in matters physical and spiritual. That doesn’t mean he becomes a tyrant, but it does mean that he manages his household. Managing the household also means managing the influences that come into your household. Who is paying for those Hollywood movies? Who is buying that music? Who is taking an active role in the education of their children? You cannot complain about the influence of society on your family if you are an active participant in the funding of that society. If you are perpetuating that society, and if you are not standing up against those things, at the very least within your own home, you are not doing your part in leading your household. If all of you stopped funding Hollywood and the music that you don’t like, do you think they could continue? If you took an active role in the education of your children, would they be able to fill their heads with lies?
I watched the protests over this past weekend, and I saw a clear contrast between an older generation and a younger. The younger generation is always idealistic. I remember all the talk about Generation X, and how we were the worst thing to ever happen to America. Many of the same things people say about the Millennials now, they said about us, then. The problem is that the younger generation’s ideals have no wisdom to back them up – and wisdom is only gained through experience. And so, the youth always rebel, ideals in hand, against the experienced generation and all they seemingly control and stand for. I also remember when I graduated high school – it was in 1991 when the first Gulf War had just ended. During the war, we all thought they would reinstate the draft – it was the first “major war” (as if there is such a thing as a “minor war” – I guess maybe if you get to watch it in the comfort of your home with a tub of popcorn, every war is minor) the US had been involved in since Vietnam.
As with every generation, (especially since the 60s and the romanticizing of the protest generation with their protesting of wars, civil rights movements, etc.) we were looking for our moment, our cause. And so, some latched onto that as the cause. I remember rock stars recording a remake of “Give Peace a Chance” – the war was almost over by the time it even hit shelves. We were talking of protests and burning draft cards – over a war that lasted roughly 6 months (August 1990 – February 1991).
I see the same thing within this generation – they are searching for that defining moment for their generation – their protest movement. They, just like my generation, have been indoctrinated in school about the greatness of the protest movements of the 60s – from the anti-war protests to the civil rights movement – and they want that moment, that victory in the name of all that is good and right. And it makes them so eager to latch onto whatever fad movement is going on at the time – BLM, the Women’s March, Anti-Trump Protests, etc. But their eagerness and idealism is betrayed by the fact that in latching on to the fad movement of the time, they become disjointed in their message. Instead of a thousand voices crying out in one message, they are all crying out in different messages. And their eagerness and idealism is also betrayed in the fact that there are so many organizations and political operatives out there ready to use them to further their own agendas and goals, directing them into situations that forsake the original cause and discredits the message.
I understand – there are people all over this country, young and old, that are upset about the change in this country that took place almost overnight. They have been lied to by a controlled media about what to expect under a Trump presidency. What are we to do in that situation? We are to try and understand the dilemma of fathers and children, the generational gap, and we are to be the physical and spiritual leaders of our homes and our families. We are to guide and counsel them on the truth of the matter – that it is not the end of the world that someone you disagree with is the leader of your country. For the better part of my life, as someone that dislikes both the Republican and Democratic parties – and that thinks political parties should be banned, someone that I disagree with has been the president. I don’t agree with President Trump on every issue, but I can honestly say that for the first time in a very long time, I see a man in that office who seems to truly have the best interests of this country at heart.
I will end this article by urging each of you to listen to the Hagmann and Hagmann Report from 23 January, 2017. I was moved by the opening given by my brother in Christ, Doug Hagmann, and his words to the women of his audience. It is in part what moved me to write this article you are reading. You can find it here.