On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
It’s amazing how quickly time passes. It almost seems cliche’ to say it, but it’s a reality for me right now. I have always been comfortable talking about my perspective on anything, but this whole fatherhood bit…I seem to struggle to elucidate my feelings on the whole experience. It is something I love so much that it has almost instantly become a part of my very identity. I am no longer just an individual, no longer a partner to my wife, I am a nurturer – a teacher, a father. There truly is no feeling like this.
As far as the practicalities of parenting go – I’ve started figuring this concept out in reverse. For me, the process of understanding the countless decisions I must make in the years ahead begins with understanding the legacy I want to leave my daughter. What that will look like is – obviously – a reality that time alone can manifest, but unless I understand what I am aiming for I fear that my daughter will end up wondering why her father left her only the memories of a misspent life. More than avoiding a future of hesitancy, however, I want to give my daughter the gift of momentum, of knowing that she is a part of a bigger story, and that what I have done with my life was in the fanatical, radical chasing after “Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love” (MLK) that characterizes the Way of Jesus. That inevitably leads me to the self-searching question: “What will it look like for me to live a life that results in a legacy for my daughter that I (and she) can be proud of?”
I have no doubt this process will take the rest of my life to work out, but every story has a beginning, and every journey has a first step, so here for your interaction are my resolutions regarding the legacy that I will leave Lux:
I will leave a legacy of questions:
Humanity so blindly accepts the perspectives foisted upon them by their nationality, their religion, their demographic, and the carefully crafted messages of the marketing machines. To rise above, we must learn to evaluate all that we see and hear. This world is not what it seems. Learning how to ask the right questions is an integral part of living a life of value. Question everything – but take care to ask the right questions. Questions aren’t the end – simply the means.
I will leave a legacy of action:
Surveys and studies indicate the overpowering reality that the critical determining factor in whether children follow in their parent’s footsteps is whether definitive action based on belief has been demonstrated during their formative years. Parents, you can lecture, scold and shame all you want, but you will make little progress if you aren’t demonstrating what you want your kids to value. This is exactly why American churches aren’t transmitting their values to the next generation. Too much talk, precious little substance. I want my daughter to know that what I believed in was valued enough to demand my effort, my energy…my everything. It is not enough for me to say to her “here are my beliefs, preserved and transmitted intact to you as a valuable family heirloom.” Rather, I want my legacy to her to be like a dinted weapon – scuffed and scarred in battle, a constant reminder that she is part of a dangerous story – a High Adventure worthy of all she has to give. The legacy of experience, that is a worthy gift – it is a constant call to action.
I will leave a legacy of dreams.
To be specific, I want to leave my daughter a legacy of dreams pursued. I fear that too many parents feel that, regardless of who they were created to be, their only purpose for postpartum existence is to focus all their resources on seeing their offspring into adulthood. Parenthood is a heavy responsibility, no doubt, but it shouldn’t consume our identity. Becoming a father has spurred me to push harder in pursuit of my dreams. I want to be able to look my daughter square in the eyes someday and say “I pursued with every fiber of being the gifts and potential I was created for – and so should you.” I know that countless influences in Lux’s life will militate themselves against her dreaming or seeking to manifest the world she will dream of. The only way I know of to teach her to be a dreamer and dream-pursuer is to become one myself. Everyone settles for something, and I choose not to settle for less than I was intended to be – if only so my daughter knows that she can live likewise.
So there it is. The first threads that will become the work of art known as my legacy. What will it look like to me and to you? Most importantly, what will it look like to the next generation?