Fatherlessness

I have finally picked back up The Way of the Wild Heart and started reading it again.  It seems an appropriate week to start reading the book again since it is just past Father’s Day and in light of an exchange with my sister on her blog regarding our own father and our relationship with him.  I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, and I’ve been struggling to figure out why.  I’ve been exercising, have a great new job that just seemed to come to me instead of me trying to force something that just wasn’t right, and am daily in awe of my children.  I started to put my finger on the problem yesterday during a long run – I am lonely.  Damn lonely.  Not in solitary confinement, I don’t get to see anybody type of way, but a more primal way – a lack of masculine initiation, validation, and companionship way.  Many of the guys that I had developed a real friendship with – men who could mentor me, walk with me, understand me – have left.  A couple to Tennessee for promising new jobs, one who up and left on a grand adventure to LA, one left behind at a job where things just got nutty, and one who is currently deployed.  And this has left me coasting, not living like an adventurer – someone who leads other men, or a strong guide for his own son’s masculine journey, or a husband passionate about loving and uplifting his wife.  It’s not like I am a bad person or really any different from most men.  It’s just that I can see that something is missing – the something is what John Eldredge calls fatherlessness.  He puts it like this in chapter 2:

Whatever life has taught us, and though we may not have put it into these exact words, we feel that we are alone.  Simply look at the way men live.  If I were to give an honest assessment of my life for the past thirty years, I’d have to confess the bulk of it as Striving and Indulging.  Pushing myself to excel, taking on the battles that come to me with determination but also with a fear-based drivenness, believing deep down inside that there is no one I  can trust to come through for me.  Striving.  And then, arranging for little pleasures along the way to help ease the pain of the drivenness and loneliness.  Dinners out, adventure gear.  Indulding.  A fatherless way to live.

That sounds a lot like me – pushing to create meaning and find pleasure but constantly feeling a lacking sense of fulfillment, in the deepest sense.  And that’s what struck me in Tom Wolfe’s quote from The Story of a Novel:

The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was a man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.

My sister laid out a bit of history on my dad, and certainly, there is more than the one final blow of abandonment that she wrote of.  Dad did some things right and some things wrong, and I’m sure most of what he did – good and bad – was right out of his own father’s playbook.  I suspect if I were to ask my dad the big question, “Do you have what it takes?” his answer, after peeling away the defensiveness, anger and nearly endless ways to prove his abilities and worth his answer would be “no”.  But I think he did well enough with me that I could probably answer a resounding, “I don’t know if I have what it takes.”  And I hope that I can help my boys be able to answer “yes.”

I am trying to be more purposeful in initiating my sons into the world of masculinity, even though they are only 2 and 1 years old.  I want them to know that they have what it takes – and that I believe that about them and will help them in their journey.  I’m sure my sons will feel that primal bond to me as a father and to their grandfathers and great-grandfathers.  And through that bond, they will undoubtedly inherit some of my flaws – my temper, my self-doubting, and my insecurities.  And I think that Eldredge has it right when he writes that,

Being a father is a noble undertaking, and a terrifically hard one.  A “hazardous conquest,” as Gabriel Marcel wrote, “which is achieved step by step over difficult country full of ambushes.”…  If our earthly fathers faltered along the way, it may have been that the country they were asked to travel was more difficult than we know.  The longer we live, the more I think we will see our fathers’ failures with compassion, and-I hope- we will see all that was good in what they were able to offer.”

I am learning to see my father in that way, and I hope to God that my boys can say the same about me.  I need fathering still – from my earthly father, from the men that I surround myself with, and from God – I am an unfinished man.  And because we live in a fallen world where thorns and sorrows grow, I have to start my understanding of masculinity in God.  I have previously read this verse and thought it sounded rather wimpy.  But maybe there is more strength behind it than I previously read:

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has also made you also an heir. (Gal. 4:6-7 NIV)

Fatter than ever

I am 3 pounds heavier now than when I started running three weeks ago. Muscle mass, anyone?

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Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

I am slowly bumping up my distance, running for longer periods of time, and feeling pretty good about it all (although my knees have been screaming at me the past few days).

Having my BlackBerry Storm with the EveryTrail application for tracking my distance/time/tracks helps, as does music streaming through Pandora on my BlackBerry. And of course, pushing my Everytrail stats to FaceBook, my Blog, and Twitter keeps me accountable to all of you to stick with it.

Running

I have started running again.  Enough of being a fatty.  Today was the 2nd run, and it hurt.  But I’ll probably stick with it – I kinda want to see my boys grow up (despite what my cholesterol says).  Maybe I’ll even throw in some pushups and situps for good measure.

I’m roughly following the Couch to 5k program found here: . Seeing walking intervals in the program makes me not feel so bad about actually having to stop and walk for a bit during my runs.

Here is today’s run:
wednesday run at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Book Study

My buddy Wade has invited me (and a bunch of other guys) to join in on an interactive book study centered around The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey, by John Eldredge. Basically, we read the book simultaneously and post comments, thoughts, etc. on each chapter on our blogs.  I like the idea and plan to participate.  I have already read Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, as has my wife, Stephanie.  I dare say that Wild at Heart was more influential for Stephanie, helping her understand the often confusion things that I do because of my man-ness (not an excuse, just an explanation).  I am working on The Secrets Men Keep: How Men Make Life and Love Tougher Than It Has to Be now, but will jump right into The Way of the Wild Heart: A Map for the Masculine Journey as soon as I finish up and look forward to a discussion with other guys trying to understand manhood and who we are called to be as mean in the world, nation, with our families as husbands and fathers, and in our own minds.  Wade has always been a source of encouragement for me and I look forward to this experiment with him and the rest of the guys joining in.  Feel free to join in if you want!

By way of an introduction

“Foolish boy” I said to myself.  How can you be _____________ and so stupid?  Fill in the blank – a father, a working professional, more than 10,000 days old, a husband, a friend….  I’ve been telling people for a while that “I know things,” but on the inside the only thing I know is that I don’t know squat about myself.    And that’s why we’re here (here, as in this blog, and not in some metaphorical/philosophical sense): to gawk, laugh, and wonder in amusement as I prove how much I don’t know, and just maybe to learn something as we explore what I do know together.

My interests are diverse, so hang in there if I post on something that is of no interest to you.  Heck, I might even write on something that is of no interest to me.  This should be interesting for everyone…..