Sunday was Father's Day. As usual we went to church, Christ Community, where pastor Rich Laskowski did what preachers do on such days -- preached about fatherhood. He spoke passionately, personally and effectively from his heart. Rich is actually quite good at that preaching thing. Overall we've learned to tolerate his occasional merely-a-sermon because of his willingness to open his heart most Sundays. Who knows, maybe that is what we all want from such spiritual father-figures?
A young man, young compared to myself, spoke of the "curse" which befalls many families because of fathers being and doing what their human fathers were and did. It is something seen often in children of poverty raising children in poverty, alcoholics teaching alcoholism, drug addicts...you get the picture. The young man spoke of having come to a turning point in his being a better father than he'd had.
It is no secret that the single greatest influence on my life and thought was my father, Philip H. Lewis. Most of what I am, my view of the world, and my approach to that which we call "spiritual" is based on who my father was. I did not know, nor was I ever told much about my father's father. My father never said a bad word about my enigmatic grandfather; but had nothing good to say about him, either,
This I do know, at some point in his life Phil Lewis stood up and broke a cycle, saying, "I will not be like my father." He broke some cycle unknown to me, and therefore I am what I am and by extension our children are what they are.
Kay and I have been married 45 years and reared to adulthood five children, four sons and a daughter. I do not know if I did the best I could have done, only that I did the best I knew to do. And, through the good and bad, right and wrong, Kay always had my back. Along the way events occurred which caused me to make affirmative decisions about being a father.
When our eldest, Kenneth, was 12 and facing for the first time the incalculable burden of adulthood, I decided I would allow my children to accept whatever level of responsibility they were willing to take on. All I would ask of them was that they finish what they started, and accept the consequences of the starting. In this I would take the great risk of allowing them to accept any responsibility which would not kill them.
Second, and in my heart the most absolute, I would let them find God (or perhaps He find them) on their own terms. Most historical religions have continued from generation to generation by indoctrinating their children as to what and how to believe. One specific day I determined to not teach my children the faith they "must" have, but only to teach them the faith I must have.
We have five children, four beautiful daughter-in-laws, and one son-in-law who is a lot smarter than he lets people know. They (minus the youngest, so far) have presented us with ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Not one in this horde would I have wanted to live without. And, looking back these 45 years, there is no choice I regret having taken at the turning points of my life.