Family: The Opposite Of Feeling Alone

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

As I write this, you’ve just fallen asleep in your room next door, Mommy is buying groceries at Whole Foods, and I am letting John Mayer’s new album, Paradise Valley, serve as my background for this quiet (for now) Saturday afternoon.

I didn’t want to feel sad right now, but I kind of do.

Just like I don’t think John Mayer intended to make a sad-feeling album, but somehow in all of its mid-tempo mellowness and subtleties, it makes me feel… almost… alone.

And that’s crazy!

The last thing I ever have time to think these days is that I feel lonely.

By default, it seems nearly impossible for me to feel that way. How could I?

We don’t have a large family. It’s just the three of us.

But having you and Mommy to need me to make your lives function right, it keeps me feeling like part of a whole that would otherwise be incomplete.

Even if we never add a fourth member to our family, we’ll still always be family. It’s us. For life.

Yes, I’m obsessed with trying to be the most involved and selfless husband and father I can be; contrasted against the way the media still insists on portraying dads, like 20/20 did for their Fathers’ Day special.

Yes, I probably talk too much about my agenda to be open-minded in an attempt to keep from growing to become a bitter old man. And about the importance of praying for wisdom, humility, and grace.

It’s just that I am so grateful for our family. I’m so grateful for how far we’ve come and grown together:

I think about how you were brought into this world in a time when Mommy and I had just moved away from our home in Nashville, only to have to move back about 8 months later because we struggled to find jobs the whole time, and lived off our savings until they were all gone.

I think about that financial burden and how deeply that psychologically affected me. To be too honest, I’m just now realizing as I’m writing this that I am actually still finishing up the healing process from that dark time in my life.

I think about how over the past two years we’ve dug ourselves out of $58,000 of debt, becoming debt-free a few months ago, the Dave Ramsey way, not by winning the lottery or even by getting raises, but thanks to living by a merciless budget which has included zero tolerance for eating meals out, cable TV or smart phones.

We’ve paid our dues and still are.

I think about the lyrics of the Steve Miller Band song, “Jet Airliner,” where it says, “You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”

Our family has officially made it through to that crossroads, that ground zero, where we can build our lives together, upwards.

I feel it. It’s like I’m standing on top of a mountain right now looking down, seeing the difficult way we got here, then turning around to see that paradise valley on the other side. It’s like I’m finally taking some time to take long deep breaths now. (Both figuratively and literally.)

Life is always uncertain, but now, it’s somehow more certain than it’s ever been or felt.

And we have each other for it. We have our family. This is me expressing gratitude. Amen.





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