Sigh…let me just start by saying that this subject, in my life, has worn itself out! I’ve dealt with it so much that it had become one of those things that I felt I had to bury deep deep away in order to be able to move on without it haunting me. There were no solutions for it, so my method of dealing with it was just to pile so many other things on top of it that it simply couldn’t surface.
This subject goes so very strongly against my nature. Therefore, whenever I think of the injustice of it I end up back on antidepressants simply because there just have never been any answers to my situation. Until recently…
I know that this subject is not ONLY about men, that women can do the very same thing. But I think it might be a stronger weakness in men than in women. The Bible even talks directly to men when it comes to this subject…in particular, to fathers. Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21.
I’ve often thought, “why do so many men NOT understand the impact that they have on their kids, the influence to guide and direct the hearts and minds of their kids, to help their daughters learn how to relate to men and their sons to women.” Their impact on their wives is also strong. They can make them feel loved, accepted, safe and secure, or they can make them feel unstable, unloved, confused and rejected. I don’t understand it. In my life, the two men that were given positions of “power” to make or break me were both so consumed with themselves that they simply did not see that with just a little effort they could actually change the course of my life and the lives of their families to make them feel safe and loved. But that wasn’t what they chose to do…no matter how many times I hinted, then encouraged, then pleaded, then begged, then finally, gave up. Why did neither one of them understand nor claim as their own the command from God that husbands love their wives and do not provoke to anger their children.
Let’s stop for a minute with how this affected me and look at the kids. These verses that say “do not provoke to anger” …. do you know how long it takes for a parent to get to the place of ‘provoking to anger with their child’? I do…I’ve watched the kids over the years….picked up the pieces from broken hearts, time and time and time and time and time and time again. Kids are sooo forgiving….they are resilient, they are always hopeful! So when God says to the fathers “do not provoke your child to wrath” He is laying out the bare minimum to the fathers and showing how much He knows what the dad’s weakness is. Do not provoke to wrath is at the final stage…after many years of neglect…then finally the children give up too and quit desiring a relationship with their dad. God gives the dads many many many chances before it gets to this stage. That’s God’s mercy!
But, for those dads that have let this “cancer” of neglect and jealousy and anger and taunting and abuse get to stage 4, where it “provoked their kids to wrath”, I only have one word to say….SHAME (on you). By the time your kids get to the point of being “provoked to wrath” you have been given so many chances to make things right and yet you chose to walk the path that ended with you trying to break your kids down into shambles while your wife walks around constantly and quietly picking up the pieces and trying to put the kids’ world back together again.
This is certainly nothing new! This kind of neglect from fathers has been going on since the beginning of time. Adam had two sons – Cain and Abel. Why did one of those sons end up killing the other son and being banned from the world that he knew? Hmmmm….one has to wonder. The Bible doesn’t go into detail, but the pattern seems kinda clear….maybe distracted parents who didn’t give their kids the attention, love, security that they needed? Look at Absalom (David’s son), who was angry at his father for not dealing with the situation of his half-brother, Amnon. Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. (read the story in 2 Samuel 13). Two years later Absalom, in retaliation for the rape of his sister, had Amnon killed. Absalom himself ended up hanging from a tree by his hair and was killed by Joab (read the story for yourself in 2 Samuel 18). Why all this tragedy? In my opinion…the neglect of a father (David) for his children. David did not deal with any of this stuff with his daughter, or his sons. In the end, David ended up in great sorrow wishing he could have died in place of his son, Absalom….a little too late! How very very sad when it all could have been avoided!
Many commentaries see Absalom as the “traiter” son. But I see it differently. I see a father (David) who “provoked his son to wrath”. Oh how this story could have turned out differently for David’s family if he’d have only obeyed God’s command to not multiply wives and to not provoke his children to wrath.
“Masculinity takes responsibility … glad sacrificial assumption of responsibility. Authority flees those who won’t take responsibility”. I read this somewhere and wrote it down because I liked it so much. I don’t remember where I read it. Responsibility to provide stability (not just financial), love, safety, clear-sound thinking minds. I used to think that maybe these things just weren’t possible for one man to give. I used to think that maybe I was just expecting too much….once again, putting the blame on me, and not on the person dealing the deck. Once again, taking the blame from the shoulders of the one dishing out crap and moving into the role of “picking up the pieces” with a desire to create a sane world for my kids and for myself.
I don’t think that way anymore. Number one reason is that I have realized that God uses parents as His tool for raising the kids. It is a privilege and an honor that God bestows on us to be parents. But, the buck doesn’t stop with parents, fortunately! God chose to use parents as His means for Godly children, but He can do the job with or without us! God’s plan for someone’s life doesn’t fall into the hands of one person! No man or woman has that much power to destroy a life! Because God is a personal God of each individual. Therefore, each individual person has the ability to have a blessed and wonderful future, regardless of their past circumstances, regardless of their current circumstances, and regardless of their future circumstances.
Ultimately, Absalom’s future was not in the hands of David (although I believe David has a lot to answer for because he put Absalom in such a position of wrath) but was in Absalom’s own hands. He could have chosen to walk in the ways of God (which I’m sure he must have learned from his father – David was deemed “the man after God’s own heart”). But Absalom let the anger from the past totally consume him so that it blurred the truth. The truth was that God would have avenged Tamar, it wasn’t Absalom’s responsibility to do that. Certainly not by killing his half-brother, Amnon. But anger blurs our vision of the truth and it was David’s responsibility to keep Absalom from having blurred vision!
I have been angry for many years that I was made to pick up the pieces for what should have been a healthy, stable life for my kids. My dad didn’t provide stability for my family and all 8 of us had to find our own way to God. But I too have to remember that my kids all have a God who is the God of the individual. They will find healing through Him alone! I’m so glad that God stops the generational flow of sin when we turn to Him and seek our fulfillment through Him alone!
I’ve had this post in my drafts for over a year now. It’s been a pandora’s box for me over the last year as I tried to work on it. But, as I open this box today, I feel peace. Peace that despite the things in my life, in my brothers’ and sisters’ lives, and in the lives of my kids that were affected by a negligent father….we’re going to be okay because God is bigger than any of our sins and He’s the great healer, Jehovah-Rapha, and He’s our Abba-Daddy. I am safe in His arms and so are my children and my brothers and sisters! Amen!