Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why are apparently good men leaving their wives and children - when it's not women leaving their husbands and children?

What follows has been prompted by yet one more wonderful lady and her children being dropped by her apparently good husband and father, but the truth wasn't fully known until he revealed himself to the light of day and what was hidden in him finally came out, but it is sadly also applicable to some wonderful men who have been abandoned with their children by their apparently good wife and their mother. So what gives?

What a joy it is for me as a pastor to occasionally hear from someone I once served and who moved away as they just decide to contact me or as I send - which I don't like to and rarely do - one of those email warnings about something or other. What a shock it is for me to hear yet one more time that she has been abandoned by her man. Every time it happens everything in me wants to scream. "Do you realize what you're doing to them and to yourself? Don't you know that you are bailing out at the very moment and threshold of dramatic growth for you as a person, if only you face what it is that's going on and go through it, but no, you turn back and leave. What a waste. The loss is almost entirely yours, because the one who gets left behind will almost certainly grow, even if at first it's only for the sake of the children."

I really don't get what's happening to men in our society and culture... It's like they're not growing up.... What I really find strange is that all too often, at least where I have been, she is very beautiful, talented, smart, skillful, and just plain good and kind and generous, and the list goes on. It seems that no family is spared and everyone knows someone who is going through this, someone close, and I am no exception. What's interesting is that some of them have been telling me that they've discovered - the Lord is giving them - a new freedom and realization of how much they had been carrying their man, who really in varying degrees hadn't been fully a husband nor a father in too many ways to tell.

It would be harder to the extent that he was in any way a good husband and/or father.... or if the shoe is on the other foot and the one who left seemed to be a good wife and mother. Then the trap is to begin wondering what you did wrong, what was the cause that forced your spouse to leave you, but it's only a trap. The cause is not in yourself but in him or her who left you and your children. Of course, you're not perfect, who is? The point is that life is like that, and we are here on Earth precisely to experience the "sandpaper effect" of rubbing up against each other in irritating ways, so that our rougher edges may be smoothed and we might actually become more beautiful, kind, understanding, loving, ready to defend the good and the truth, and be generous.

Then there's the other trap at the other end, where the one who left was such a dead weight that you now may feel guilty about feeling so relieved of the burden of his dead weight that you actually feel glad, joyful, elated.... Don't feel guilty... that's just a trap. The fact is that a woman gladly carries the weight of her man during his struggles and uncertainties, and her constant love and support supplies him with time and an environment that actually incubates him and allows him to grow and put in his efforts and make of himself a better man. Our Father designed woman with the capacity to do that and do it gladly; that's how she nurtures life, and it is one of her greatest sources of satisfaction. The Creator designed man to awaken to her goodness and gladly, freely, and generously cherish her. Then the circle is complete and her love and efforts come back to her.

Conversely, the Creator made man to notice woman, to value her and take her under his wing. He leads her from her parents' home to a home of her own, even in cases where she is so talented and able that she actually leads in many of the decisions they make. We're not talking about who wears the pants here, but rather about the topography of the human soul. Woman has been designed by the Creator to desire and expect to have her own value noticed, wanted, appreciated, and affirmed in the eyes of another who looks upon her with love. She has been designed to be cherished.

So when a man does that and after a shorter or longer time she leaves him and even her own children behind, he can fall into the same trap of wondering what he did wrong, but it's just a trap. It's not about him or the children, who also wonder what they did to cause Mommy not to love them anymore and leave, but it's mostly about her and the decisions she has made. This man needs to remember that he is good and lovely and precious in the eyes of his true Father in Heaven, and that he has not love his ability to love and be loved, and at first he must carry on for the sake of the children, but in time, he will discover that he did not squander his love on her who left him, but rather that he has grown through it all and has become a better man.

You know, I've had lots of time to think about such hurts that really should never happen, wondering what is happening to the countless millions of people suffering such injustices and neglect and worse.... and where is our loving Father in all of that... I remember that He only ever has one answer to all our situations and questions: his own Beloved Son, the Word, whom He sent and who accepted to be sent to come among us, and whom we celebrate with such joy - and good reason - every Christmas... Jesus, the Beloved of our soul and the True Bridegroom of his Bride, the Church, us. He will ever remain faithful to us, having already poured out his life for us and for all of humanity who simply accept to receive the gift of his life by accepting to be called by it to move up a little higher and become a little better.....

Woman, or man, you who have been abandoned by one not willing to rise to the dizzying heights of true and profound love, love that is faithful and true and learns to leave self behind, this is an opportunity for you to rediscover in a deeper way the simple goodness of you, that you are ever so precious a daughter or son in the Father's eyes, and that He has so much trust in you to know that and to breathe deep and drink deeply from the springs of Living Water He has given to erupt in you - the Holy Spirit - from the moment of your Baptism and strengthened at your Confirmation and fanned into flame with every incident on the road of life as you allow it to prompt you to open wider with ever deeper trust the windows and doors of your soul....

Please give my regards to your children... Tell them that they are very special... They have a very good Mom or Dad who has chosen freely to remain faithful and true to them and won't leave them ever - until their body gives out and their soul moves on to be with God - and what has happened is not their fault, nor is it the fault of their Mom or Dad who has remained behind. It's mostly about their Dad or Mom who left and the choices they are making.

It's also because of our culture and times.... It isn't a good time for good, strong, just men to sprout up from the Earth... It's also becoming a very bad time for good, strong, nurturing women to sprout up from the Earth.... There was a time when many men tended to get caught up in macho activities to prove themselves and left the women to do the important and foundational work of rearing children and forging character in their children, and so women grew and became powerful and wise. Those times are quickly fading.

Too successful is the great lie being propagated by interests that want to manipulate and control destinies and/or want to hinder or even abolish the great and wonderful design of the Creator for our happiness. So more and more girls and women are trying to define themselves by being better men than males, proving they can do anything men can do or even better, proving to themselves they can enjoy the same sexual irresponsibility that for so long has been the reserve of men who don't have to carry newly created human beings in pregnancy. The tragedy is that by the time woman discovers what God already knew and intended, that she can do what man does at least as well and often better, it may be too late for her to realize that wasn't the point.

God designed men to compete against themselves, to become better than their own self, not to become better than others, but mostly, the Creator designed men to develop a life, a self, so that then they might freely and gladly lay that self aside in order to apply all their energy and devotion to cherish the woman who has accepted to share and enhance their existence.

God designed women to be content to observe the man competing against himself and by her freely and gladly given companionship be as a catalyst that enhances his ability to more quickly develop a life which he can then gladly and freely devote to her and cherish first her and then also their children. He designed her to find rather her inner satisfaction in fully developing her own potentialities for giving and nurturing life all around her, like a fruitful vine, but if she allows the great lie to distract her gaze from her own inner goodness and accepts to look outside herself for a measure of her own worth, then she will reject her own fertility and fruitfulness and become an arid and sterile wasteland that in the end remains alone and empty.

The tragedy of our times is that our culture has developed especially in the past fifty years around the momentum of reacting against elders and former ways of living in an insatiable search for novelty and the futile attempt to satisfy the appetites of the flesh. They have been given us to help us survive and to add color to life, but they have no lasting substance. That is something that grows root, stem, leaf, and fruit from within our spirit and has to do with our design to give and nurture life, one way or another, in our own children or in other ways of adding life to others by our presence and services.

This new orientation is actually not new at all. It was introduced at the very dawn of humanity and we have an account of it in Genesis in the drama staged with a first primordial couple, Adam (man) and Eve (wo-man). The great lie is to believe we can do better than follow the design inscribed within our very nature, but the proof is in the origin of the message we choose to believe. Our Creator loves us and designed us to be happy in a lasting and even eternal way, whereas the stranger who wants our attention and discredits our design wants nothing else than our total and utter destruction. The choice of orientation is ours. Will we have the wisdom to recognize the innate genius, beauty, and wonder of our own inner design, or will we prefer the attractive but artificial and sterile and empty appearance? That is the test of our humanity.

Too many of us are not passing the test... We are being sifted like wheat by the events and abundance and prosperity.... to discover what is really inside of us. No one can escape being tested. It's only when we discover what is inside of us that we know the truth, and knowing the truth about ourselves, we can act accordingly. Jesus' response to our situations was: "Repent and believe the Good News!" What good news? That He has come no to leave us orphans but to restore us to our true Father.

God bless you dear sister, dear brother, who have been abandoned but are not orphans, because you still have your true Father above, and the One who came among us to at last make Him known and loved. May this loving and Blessed Trinity of divine persons continue to pour out the Holy Spirit and have mercy on all the delinquent and lost spouses and parents who have left their treasures behind, blinded to their value and enamoured of the lie that they must cultivate their own life alone or with someone else; for sooner or later they will have to face the truth they is trying to escape.

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