Moving on from a delightful dissertation on Compassion, Joshua comes back to his second favourite vocation. Fatherhood:
So I felt a vocational calling to fatherhood. I knew I wanted to be a dad from the moment I knew I was in love with the girl who would eventually become my wife.Love Always Prevails either in Vocation or Compassion or both together.
My own Dad died when I was 16. I needed my father so much at that age, and he was ripped from our family overnight - without warning and at the age of 50 - by a heart attack. The next half decade of my life was characterized by dissent, descent, and distance from all things "family". So reconnecting with the idea of fatherhood was very different indeed when it was suddenly awakened within me. naturally, the whole concept and dynamic of "family' proved fodder for hours of private rumination.
The kids are grown now and off on their own. In hindsight, I believe that shared and mutual love is the basis of genuine functional family and healthy human development. In my own family's case, I would include in that recipe a shared and mutual love for, and relationship with, God.
My beloved wife is HUGE on love - her heart is enormous and her energy is boundless. She is also one very determined lady. HER family, she promised herself, would be nurtured on love, thrive on love, and - with the love of God - bound by love as a family. The bonds of familial love are, like the bond of love with the Creator, a LIBERATING force which promotes the fulfillment of individual human potential. And what better way to praise God than to do the very best with the gifts He has given you?
Now, when things are shared and mutual, they are also TALKED ABOUT at the family dinner table. Every telephone conversation I have with my adult and manly sons ends with them saying: "Gotta run, Dad. Bye now. I love you." My daughters- and sons-in-law admit they had to "adjust" to this "new normal" - love wasn't as openly shared in their birth families. And this isn't just a "family protocol". The words are not "tossed off" like a salutory greeting. The are "measured" and delivered in such a way as to ensure that I "hear" that love. It melts my heart a little more each and every time.
But LOVE ALWAYS PREVAILS.
Today, when I chat with the sons- or daughters-in-law, they, too, end up closing with "I love you, Dad." And they mean it, too.
And I return their love. Every time.
It might seem "corny" to some, but I note that "our" family values are the ones that predominate in our children's homes and families. This is not a point of "personal pride" to me but only more evidence that LOVE ALWAYS PREVAILS.
But I suspect it might be hard to toe this line if you don't enjoy a personal and committed relationship with God. It seems to me that, without God in your life, that love never seems as strong or as resilient, and often is broken (dysfunctional families). The presence of God in your life brings strength and resilience to every aspect of your life, including your capacity for/to love.
At least, from my humble, theist, God-loving perspective...