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No Free Lunches

 

My parents’ marriage didn’t work out – my mother and father divorced when I was around ten years old. I am now aware as an adult that my mother was advised, by persons in the church community, to stay in the marriage relationship despite the fact that it was abusive on many different levels. Today, I am thankful that she didn’t as the storyline of my life would have been very different.

This preamble of my blog is crucial information to the content of this piece. You see, at that time (and it still happens today) divorcees and their children were treated as lepers and outcasts: kept on the outskirts of the community, given what some may consider non-important ministry during service and treated as “less than saints”.

Allow me to share with you one of the most devastating memories I have of our life at that time. It was one of the few occasions that we as children were allowed to see my mother’s pain, allowed to see her wounded. Things were always tight financially and around that time our roof badly needed repairs. My mother approached the church, for some sheets of roofing that were lying around unoccupied on the church compound to assist with repairs to our home. The person responsible for the roofing sheets said to my mother “There are no free lunches in life.” Needless to say, we did not receive the sheets.

As I peruse the scripture, I notice that God was very much concerned about social justice and those who were disenfranchised by the circumstances of life. Some of these are Malachi 3:5, Deuteronomy 15 and James 1:27, just to list a few.

The Israelites were commanded to seek after the welfare of each member of their society. This was not an option. Deuteronomy 15:7 and 8 says”…do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.” There was a concern for every member of the community. The statement that the fellow church member made to my mother years aback has to some degree haunted me since then as it is in direct contradiction to the statues God has given. The sense of community and collective responsibility to the less fortunate is crucial to the growth and prosperity of the church community (James 1:27, Micah 6:8). We can sing songs of deliverance, claim and decree and declare in our worship but if we are not obedient to God’s word, how can the church experience genuine, godly success and blessing? (1 Cor 13)

I thank God that my mother was a fighter; she was resilient, determined and faithful to God. Things may have turned out very different for us as a family if she wasn’t. My sisters and I have not, by the grace of God, followed the script written for us by society as children of a broken home with a single-parent divorced mother. As a family we strive to be intentional in our support and encouragement of each other as we celebrate our successes and failures in the different stages and milestones of life. We love tangibly.

It is my earnest prayer that we the church do some introspection and with the Spirit’s enablement, intentionally and lovingly meet the needs of those around us and become the community that God intended.

Testicular Fortitude

Testicular Fortitude

 

 

Father’s Day… a difficult time for many, a special time for some to celebrate and a nightmare for others.

I wonder, perhaps you do too, why it “appears” that Father’s day has less pomp and ceremony than Mother’s Day. I am not sure if it was always this way or…it’s just something that developed over time. Whatever the reason, there seems to be less attention paid to it as a commercial event.

My story may, or may not be similar to yours. I grew up with an abusive father. I saw and experienced abuse in my family of seven until my parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. It was interesting that I did learn to respect and honour my father regardless. My mother ensured that we understood the importance of honouring our father.

 

I learnt quite a bit from my father too, things I still try to emulate. The importance of being early; as far as I can remember my father was seldom late, He was a fireman, and I guess as a fireman the importance of one second was crucial to life or death. I remember shiny clean shoes – to this day I still use traditional polish, brush, cloth and wax, a learned art. Cooking; my father is a sweet hand man. His fish broth is to die for and he makes a wicked ginger-beer. Unknown to most, my father is actually a pretty good singer. Maybe someday he and I would share a stage.

 

Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on perspective), I learned how not to treat a woman, I learned how not to be unfaithful. I learned how not to give up on your dreams and passions. You see, by observing the way he treated my mother, I decided that I did not want to be remembered that way, that I did not want to model that for my son and daughters. My father wanted to be a medical doctor, a dream he gave up on due to the circumstances of his family. I endeavoured not to give up on my dreams.

Isn’t it ironic that probably the most sensitive and potentially crippling part of a man’s anatomy is also used to describe his strength? We are often asked, “Do you have the Testicular Fortitude?” Fortitude to make decisions, to go against the tide. Men, let’s be honest: many of us have dropped the ball (lol, did you see that?), and shown that we don’t have testicles at all when it comes to fathering. We take the easy way out, we follow the negative narrative that many of us experienced and just go with the flow. Yet, out of these same testicles is part of another generation yearning for some direction.

 

Well, I decided to engineer a change in the narrative when I read David’s deathbed charge to his son Solomon. The real measure of testicular fortitude in 1 Kings. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go” 1 Kings 2:2-3 NIV

 

Do we really have the testicular fortitude? Or do we just know how to use our testicles?

We can change the narrative. Maybe Father’s day would be a greater celebration if we fathers apologised to our sons and daughters, let them know that we too may be struggling because our testicles have been damaged, and we have lost some fortitude. It is never too broken to mend, even the most sensitive parts can be healed. To borrow the now famous catch phrase from the former POTUS. Yes we can! Show testicular fortitude, Yes we can! Engineer and new generation, Yes we can! Heal the broken ones, Yes we can! Celebrate Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Father’s

Bless