I have covered lots of ground telling “My Story” and feel like taking an intermission. So in this installment I want to simply “think out loud” and answer a couple of questions.
“Questions?” you ask.
Yes, questions. Now, these probably aren’t the two questions that some want answered, but these are the two questions that I will answer.
But before I do, I want to talk about something. I want to talk about children.
It’s kind of difficult for me to recall everything back in the 1990s. I was at university. I started in September 1990. I met Mary in March 1991. We married in July 1992. Until July 1994, I was a fulltime student and worked parttime. After that I was a parttime student and worked fulltime.
Because of how I chose to carry semester hours, and how family developed, I graduated December 1996. Six years on a four-year plan. Not uncommon, but not what I was expecting. I will candidly say that I did NOT want to be in class. I studied. I passed.
But I was not happy with school. I didn’t hate school. School just didn’t resonate with me. That totally changed when I attended bible school and received my bible training. But back then it took motivation to remain in school.
But that is the time period I’m talking about, 1990-1996.
I don’t recall anyone really giving me any advice about having kids or when to have kids, but there most likely was. But I do know that Mary and I talked about kids. She always wanted to have more, but somehow we decided that we’d stop at two.
But I don’t recall anyone asking me how many kids I planned on having or wanted. But I remember Mary and I talking about having kids and we did. And our life changed. No regrets.
It might happen for some, some parents or friends even might ask “what are you going to do with your kid(s)?” I just don’t recall that ever happening to me.
In retrospect, I think people simply have their assumptions about their child becoming a parent and their child’s parenting skills. Maybe something like: “Your Granddad was a farmer. Your Dad is a farmer. You’re going to be a farmer, and so is your kid.”
That seems to be a general perspective. Now that expectation has changed for many people in the last 100 or so years. Just because granddad was a particular occupation and/or dad was a particular occupation does NOT necessarily mean that the son and/or grandson will be that particular occupation.
But in a generic sense, that assumption is made and is why no one really asks: What are you going to do with your kid(s)? Because it is assumed that the kids will somehow follow the family. That means that both family and friends have a general expectation of future events.
Family and friends not only have their assumptions about the child(ren), they also have expectations of future events for the child(ren). That is why when the child(ren) choose something different, they inadvertently break family and friends’ assumptions and thereby fail their expectations.
Depending upon person, family, friends, and a bunch of other educational, environmental, cultural, and social expectations, when the child(ren) do not fall into line with those assumptions, distress can be quite acute. Some families handle that well. Others don’t.
Two movies come to mind portraying this. One, Fiddler on the Roof. Two, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Both of these movies capture the distress a family feels when the child(ren) do not meet the assumptions of family and friends.
Now that is not making light of the occurrence. No. All of anthropological history has family growth that challenges previous generations and/or peer groups. That is simply part of human history.
But that awareness doesn’t necessarily make it comfortable when it happens in a personal sphere. Assumptions. Expectations. The unspoken.
Here recently, I was asked two questions. Given to me for me to contemplate and ponder. The questions are worthy.
Here is what I know, I am that son that failed expectations.
No one, not one person, ever expected me to head out and marry two women. My family and my friends’ marital assumption of me got blown to smithereens.
As far as I know, I don’t come from a family that has this in its heritage, at least in recent memory or what has been officially recorded. Not on either side, mine, or Mary’s, and probably not on my second wife’s side either. I mean this thing is totally groundbreaking, open up and swallow you type of thing.
But nevertheless, I was presented with two questions.
Here is the first question: What am I going to do with two wives?
First, because of the source, I take that question far more seriously than if particular people asked that of me.
I will explain from the negative side.
Many times when questions like that are asked, the individual and/or individuals asking that are asking either out of curiosity, which I prefer, or out of spite, which I despise and mostly refuse to answer, because the question is not genuine. However, knowing the difference between the two usually only occurs after the fact, which gives caution to the future.
What am I going to do with two wives?
The same thing I would do with one wife.
How graphic should I be? Oh, it’s not needed. Husband and wife/wives have certain relationships, and that’s all that needs to be said between/among adults. Hopefully my reader agrees.
Aside from that obvious reality, what am I going to do with two wives?
I want to approach this marriage vastly different than that which Mary and I had. She and I are in agreement. What we had was great. It was fulfilling. But we were different people. We had different goals. Our children are now adults.
This marriage provides me a completely different venue.
Back in 1992, I was young, inexperienced, and hadn’t walked enough of life to know much of anything. Mainly, I followed other people’s advice about what I should do, from religion to politics, from occupation to education, the lists seem endless.
For the better part of my life, I lived using the wisdom and the advice from others. I found their leading wanting. Now, I am my own, in the sense that I am no longer led by others’ advice and the wisdom of other humans. Now, I have my own experiences that have helped develop and shape my wisdom, my advice. As does Mary, and as I expect of my second wife.
What am I going to do with two wives?
I am going to encourage each lady to continue blossoming into her own, becoming her own person, becoming all that she can be.
I am going to cultivate the internal, external, spiritual, and emotional beauty that each lady already radiates.
I will help each lady to overcome past disappointments in order to find her personal success.
I will support each lady. I will be her home, her stability, her respite.
I will help each lady achieve what she wants. Education? Occupation? How do I help?
I will help each lady because she is worth my attention, my love, my devotion, my everything.
Let me now turn to the second question. Here is what I was asked: Where am I taking them?
In answering that question, allow me to review my past.
I was taught that the husband, the father, was the primary leader. That thought was from religion, society, and family. To that end, decisions were primarily made in favor of what I needed in order to advance my position, not in the family, but in career marketability.
In some instances, decisions were made to advance my career. In some instances, decisions were made to advance the family. One might think that it was an action of give-and-take.
I was also taught that family takes a backseat to faith. Family was placed on the sacrificial altar for the greater good.
But as I look back, the decisions didn’t really provide a strong family or a strong career, as odd as that sounds. Like many families, we made progress, did the best we could. I would describe our family as successful, above average.
However, the water before us is unsailed, uncharted, completely maria incognita, seas unknown. We’re redefining faith and family.
We have faith in God above, believing God sent his son to redeem, believing that God’s Spirit leads. But, faith in God does NOT require the sacrifice of family. God created family. Family is a gift.
Faith is family. We share our faith, we are family. We share our faith with our children, but not in a way that discourages growth. We encourage our children to learn the Scriptures, but help them to be led by God’s Spirit so they can find their own personal fulfillment.
Our faith is shared, not just with family but also with those around us. In a concept: embodying Christian faith in a way that draws people to God.
The old marriage must be set aside for a new marriage. What do I mean? There is a covenant, a total commitment, from me to you and Mary, from you to Mary and me, from Mary to you and me. There we are one, making one new marriage.
The “old family” must be set aside for a “new family”. What do I mean? There is no Mary’s kids. There is no your kids. Instead it is our kids, meaning all of our kids, making one big family.
A marriage and family living the adventure of a lifetime, charting our waters, enjoying laughter, having fun, experiencing frivolity, sharing our faith, strengthening each other, helping our children, building our future.
Eternity is life, but our physical life on this terrestrial globe is the only one we get. I want us to relish our family, nurture it, empower it, watch our children grow, mature, find themselves, finding their own enjoyment, building their own families.
I see us in a house, with our yard, our own place. Warm family atmosphere inside. Outside a place to play, and a place for gathering around the fire, smoking brisket, barbecuing burgers, smoking chicken. I see great food, great family meals, family and friends.
It’s about creating a loving home, building faith, sharing faith, encouraging others. Changing diapers, doing laundry, transforming routine moments into events that are cherished and relished, because it is the time we have been given.
I want us to have a healthy family. A family that has energy. A family that loves life. A family that lives life to its fullest.
I want us to have a family that is active. Not busy for busy sake. But a family that is active for spiritual, emotional, and familial well-being.
I want us to be a family that hikes, bikes, takes “foot” journeys, takes road trips, vacations, goes to the races, goes camping, visits other states, countries, peoples.
I want us and our family to live and be full of life. That way we’re not a house, but a home. A home were you and Mary, each of you, both of you, Mary and you, and our children want to be, a place where family and friends miss and want to be.
This is not about wasting time. It’s about redeeming time. Redeeming the time we have remaining, placing a healthy focus on family, enjoying the next 50-60 years.
When each of us faces our death, I want each of us to be able to gaze into the faces of those gathered, smile, be content, be fulfilled, knowing that we are going home and that during our life we did what was proper, right, and good, and that our family has been guided into the next generation. No regrets. Joy.
Blessings and Shalom