A family member texted me: “On your web site right now. When did you put this together?”
I responded, “”Over the last 18 months.”
The reply: “Hmmmmm…..”
Sometimes you have to face things head on and tell folks some devastating news, so here goes:
I’m not perfect.
The people who know you know your warts, and most likely they have been the ones your growth has been practiced on. In my instance, I have no blood relatives of my generation or earlier who have spent more than a week with me without years going between those occurrences. I moved to Texas in 1985 when I was sixteen. I last spent meaningful, get-to-know-you significant time with my sister, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents over thirty years ago.
Their idea of my life, as mine is of theirs, is a jumble of emails, texts, occasional Christmas cards and phone calls with a few, and news gleaned off facebook or – especially in my family – through the rumor mill colored by layers of secrets, distrust, dysfunction and abuse often wrapped up in agendas of positioning, one-upmanship, and veiled as well as followed-through threats of disowning.
In essence, I know as much about the lives of my biological family members as they know about mine – which is maybe two percent. And since half of that is stuff we don’t agree upon…well, I can understand the reply text above. They know my warts, but do not know me. The warts are easier to see at a distance and judge – let alone measure – a man.
Just as if anybody in my family stood up and claimed to be regarded as somewhat of an informed source on marriage, parenting, and being a Catholic Dad, I would have cause to pause and say, “Hmmmmm…,” they, too, are legitimized in saying that based on who they think I am.
But I am the one claiming some level of expertise, while none of them make such a claim. So they get to scrutinize my claims based on an old microscope slide.
But you get my point. I know their warts…or at least the ones they had when I was fourteen and what I have gotten a sense of through thirty years of distance with rumor, opinion, and hearsay being most of my information sources. And the warts I think they have now are viewed through a narrow lens…hence the black lava field at the beginning of this article – an ugly, barren wasteland when looking at it up close.
But when you zoom out, you realize it is more than what you see. In fact, it is not what you thought it was at all, but instead the nose of our family dog:
My point? People who know me are great supporters of what I do. People who don’t know me that well are justified in their doubts, and even their vehement disapproval, based on what they have experienced. They’ve only seen the tip of my nose! And this includes people who have not seen me at my best after having started the ManHusbandDad movement – including the guy at Church right after Mass last month who got a sincere sense that I wanted to punch him in the nose!
You know, there’s a Biblical justification for this – not the nose punching but the idea that those who appear to or think they know you best think you’re no expert.
You may have heard of this guy named Jesus. You know, Son of God, Savior of Humanity, God Among Us, all that? He was known as Jesus of Nazareth, because that’s where he came from.
That’s also the only place he never preached.
Well, I will allow Him to answer that in His own words from Luke, Chapter 4:
When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read…
And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.”
… They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
Never, it turns out, to return.
Each of us as a Christian, man or woman, spouse, parent, and in many other roles we fill, are subject to this same scrutiny and ill-informed persecution. And we subject others to that same prejudice, based on first impressions or myopic amalgams that are used to judge us as well. I don’t think I am the only one, am I?
So what do we do?
We do what we are called to do by God. Whatever our vocations are, we do them to the best of our ability knowing that God will equip us for the Vocation He has ordained us. Because God does not deny that which he has ordained, and the opinions of people, though important, are not who you are. Who you are is what is in your heart, and that is what God alone is allowed to judge. Others judge our actions, which they are justified and are in fact encouraged by God to do because that is a matter of survival, both physically and spiritually. Unfortunately, if someone only sees the bad – or the old that was bad (whether it is all that we have shown them or all they have seen, by choice or not) – their judgments give them pause and cause to say things like, “Hmmmmm.”
But those actions, especially the mistakes we make along the way, can be made to good purposes if our heart genuinely wants to grow and make better our corner of the world – our Family. In my case, I learned how bad I was and committed to a lifetime of changing for the better. But my Vocation is to be a ManHusbandDad and preaching and teaching about it is only my job. There’s a difference. I am called to my vocation, and hired to my job. I’ve worn many professional hats since I was eleven, but I have always been called to be a ManHusbandDad. My family knows I was a great paperboy, which was my job when we last lived together. They’ve never seen me for more than a few days as a ManHusbandDad and they know we come from a family that does not churn that kind of person out.
I could not stand before one person, let alone a crowd of thousands, and teach what I teach if I did not have the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Because I fail miserably every day at some facet that I teach specifically because it does not come easy – not a bit of it. But I learned from Stephen Covey that that is okay. He said that even he struggled with the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People…but that does not make those habits any less important – or True.
I struggle with being a Catholic ManHusbandDad every day. But since I have discovered what works, I can always return to the True North of my vocation by practicing what I preach in my job and getting better every day.
Truth is Truth, regardless of who delivers it. How to be a ManHusbandDad isn’t something that is new to this universe that just popped up the day I started preaching and teaching, or even when I started living it – with my myriad fits and starts – long before that. These are timeless principles well-founded in history and civilizations to the dawn of time. My iniquities – past or present – do not invalidate the ManHusbandDad philosophy. In fact, these faults of mine prove that the principles work, no matter how late you start practicing them.
You and I will fail and the scars of our warts will define us only if we allow the opinions of others to define us, instead of remembering that a Perfect God does not make mistakes, especially with the people He makes in His image.
Those people are You and Me. All of us. ,)
That’s my story.