Tuesday, June 16, 2009
What A Dad Desperately Needs To Go The Distance: Another Family
What does it take for a father to “go the distance?” I am increasingly convinced that we need “another family” that will help take us to the finish line. I have walked alongside men who have lost their marriages…who have had their children turn away from how they have taught them to live…who have been rejected by their families of origin. If they did not have “another family,” their brothers and sisters in Christ (particularly brothers in the case of these men) they would have lost all hope. They would not have any chance to go the distance.
The greatest honor in my life was bestowed upon me three months ago. The man who gave me this honor is a big part of “another family” for me. His name is Marvin Charles. Marvin and I have been friends for almost 10 years. Marvin and Jeanett had a child just three months ago, a little girl, in a life stage when most people are done having children. When Jeanett was pregnant, Marvin told me that this child was going to be named after me. “What if it’s a girl?” I asked. “Jamie will still work,” I believe he replied. I knew this “can go either way” name of mine would come in handy at some point!
So this spring, Jamie Michelle Charles was born to the Charles family. She is a beautiful, healthy girl with a loving family around her. Around the Charles family is another family, the family of Christ, who have grown to love, support and be inspired by Marvin and Jeanett’s powerful story of redemption and reconciliation. This family is black, white, brown and yellow. The organization they founded, D.A.D.S., is having huge impact in Seattle and I believe soon will be reproduced nationally. (www.aboutdads.org)
It is hard to articulate to people why my relationship with Marvin has become so meaningful to so many others and me. As Marvin and I have grown in friendship and seen an expanding network of relationships that build bridges from black to white and white to black, I have continued to say the mantra, “we need each other” without being able to articulate anything more specific than that.
But HOW do we need each other? Marvin and those who are in the urban community are fighting against the powerful generational curse of “fatherlessness.” They are overcoming obstacles through their genuine faith that we in the suburbs, with the current explosion of divorce and cohabitation, are just beginning to encounter in full force. In the white, suburban culture we are dealing with a subtler, but I believe even more deadly, foe--the generational curse of “faithlessness.” We have made our selves too big and our God too small. In other words, we have lived with self-confidence, self-sufficiency and self-dependence with a little expectation for God to come in as “back up” once in awhile.
Chris Tiegren writes, “Usually we approach crises as though God is dependent on us to do the work while He supports us in the background. We need to turn that around. We must depend upon God while we are behind the scenes believing in Him.” Marvin and my urban brothers teach me what it looks like to trust God like this. What do they learn from us? I am not sure, but whatever it is that I know, it is not us but Christ in us just as we can see Christ in them. That’s what breaks down the walls, through the cross of Christ opening the way to our common Father through His Spirit.
I am so thankful that God has given to me “another family” and it took a relationship with someone as ethnically different as could possibly be in order to teach me the importance of this need. If I am to go the distance as a man who will love his family for a lifetime, I know that I desperately need another family!
Because We Have The Same Father, Jamie
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