My love for you is not based on a law; nor could it even be. After all, there is no law that can force people to love each other.
Same thing goes for my love for Mommy. Sure, we have a marriage license (as recognized by the state of Tennessee) and were were married in a church (in front of God and other believers)… but I can’t be forced to love Mommy, or you.
Yet I do anyway. I choose to. I want to.
On a global scale, I believe that if everyone truly loved each other as much as they did themselves, the world wouldn’t need laws; nor would there be wars… nor would there be rich people or poor people, escpecially to the degree that people are starving.
Despite a person’s acceptance level in regards to Jesus and what He taught and claimed, I think there’s no denying He spoke some truth when He summarized it this way:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:37-39
But since not everyone does love their neighbors as much as they do themselves, the pattern of brokenness repeats itself.
I used to be a much more openly political person; thinking that my public beliefs as a [Republican or Democrat] would help convince the [opposing political party] to join “the side that truly cares more about helping people.”
But I was wrong to think that way. I was too focused on thinking that if our government would change laws to suit [my political affiliation] at the time, it would force people to stop doing the things that my religion teaches against.
I realize now, the law doesn’t prevent people from hurting each other. Nor does it change a person’s heart.
At best, when a person breaks the law and is incarcerated, it just puts them in a temporary time-out (jail or prison), yet that person (in most cases) doesn’t actually become reformed and redeemed.
Without a true change of heart… without a person truly having the mindset to love other people as much of they do themselves, how can they break that pattern and lifestyle?
And on the flip side, while it’s always the individual’s choice to commit a crime or hurt another person in some way, I do consider how that person’s home life and environment could have led them to make that destructive decision.
Had that person been more loved by those around him, maybe (not definitely) there’s a good chance he would have never headed down the path he did.
Meanwhile, my version of reality has been much different…
I realize that being a middle class American as long as I’ve been alive has given me major advantages and privileges in life; ones that you will have as well. However, I understand those advantages and privileges come with great responsibility. I try to consider this concept:
If I become richer, other people in the world are probably becoming poorer. If I become better well-known, other people in the world are probably becoming more forgotten. If I have too much, it means other people in the world probably don’t have enough.
I am light years away from perfecting this “love your neighbor as yourself” concept in my life, but I have a feeling that if I’m mindfully teaching it to you, I can take a few steps in the right direction.
I think it’s very important for me to make a regular habit of trying to imagine myself in other people’s shoes. That’s an ability called empathy, by the way.
The older I get, the more perspectives I gain, by seeing life through the eyes of those who have had different experiences than me.
Something I think about sometimes is what it must be like for dads who are not able to see their kids on a daily basis; for whatever reason that may be.
I get to see you everyday. I get to experience life with you- even on those seemingly forgettable days where nothing particularly epic happens. But I am mindful to not take even those days for granted.
However, there a lot of dads who don’t get to see their kids except for certain days of the month.
It’s beyond sad for me to think about that; putting myself in that situation.
Where I work during the day at my H.R. job, I deal mostly with men- many of which only see their kids on the weekends or every other weekend.
Maybe that’s why I am thinking about this today.
If I am honestly and vulnerably putting myself in their shoes, I see such a devastating version of my life; without you, without Mommy too.
You’re part of me; you’re half of me- literally.
How could I function without seeing half of me everyday; a half of me that needs and desires my certain fatherly influence on a regular basis?
That’s beyond a tragedy when I imagine it personally.
So I don’t take it for granted at all that our family lives in the same house and sees each other each day.
I am thankful for what our family has- and I definitely don’t take it lightly. Because I make a habit of empathizing with others, the best I can. It puts things into perspective.
There’s stuff that, as great as she is, Mommy just isn’t designed to help me talk through and understand. And vice versa, I want her to hang out with her girlfriends, without you and me around, so she can get the encouragement she needs in a way that I’ll never be able to handle.
In the movie, Big Fish, the whole plot is rooted in the fact that a grown man with a child on the way, is attempting to find out who his own father really is.
His father (subconsciously) refused to meet his son on a deep, emotional level; instead the father seemed to only tell lavished versions of stories of his own life, so the son grew up never really even know who his dad was, in a way. The son therefore couldn’t really relate to his dad.
Yes, the father had always physcially provided for his son; no question there. But the father was, in essence, emotionally absent.
I vow to you: I’m going to be here for you emotionally, not just physically.
And I think a big part of that happening means that right now, I make a proclamation to you:
You can talk to me anytime, about anything.
It’s not enough that you know that. You need to be reminded… so I will do that too.
I realize I will not always be the first fellow guy you want to talk to about certain things, but please know you can talk to me, whether it’s to have someone to listen, or somone to give you season advice, or both.
I’m here. I’m not like the dad on the movie Big Fish.
I feel like there’s this stereotype about fathers, that especially as they get older, they tend to have less of an open door policy with their sons.
And I get it.
By the time the two are both grown men, there’s almost this unspoken rule that the two can’t or shouldn’t talk to each other about serious stuff, involving the need for jpersonal advice… because they’re both grown men.
However, that’s the very reason they should depend on each other in that way.
For me personally, I can’t just talk to any guy friend about certain stuff.
My heart is very guarded. I know that may seem out of character for me, being that I appear to spill my guts out in these letters to you. But there’s a whole lot I keep private.
Rabbit trail here, but as I’m nearing my H.R. certification exam on January 11th, I’m planning to start focusing more time on writing songs again (which is why I moved to Nashville in the first place) because soon I won’t have to spend all my free time (which isn’t much) on studying. I can begin easing my way back into my forsaken hobby of creating music.
One of the songs I’m working on contains this line:
“I am a skeleton with meat on my bones/I walk around with secrets nobody knows.”
I think a lot of men feel that way. I think that’s why classic superheroes are so popular. Batman is the example that comes to my mind, immediately. In a way, superheroes compensate their own personal failures, fears, and insecurities by leading and helping others. It’s a great escape and a perfect distraction.
Yet still, they have received an emotional scar at some point in life that characterizes, and in some ways, defines who they are.
I can relate. I have an emotional scar or two. And I would actually be surprised to meet a man who didn’t feel that way about himself. It’s for that very reason it’s important you’ve always got other men to depend on, emotionally… or psychologically, or whatever you want to call it.
It’s not that I don’t trust other men, but it does take a lot to make myself that emotionally vulnerable. It’s easier just to keep it inside and try to sort it out myself, a lot of the time.
I’m realizing I’ve got more to say about this than I realized, so let me put a bookmark right here. Go grab yourself a glass of water, then come back and read the rest of this letter.