Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

If you’ve escaped a toxic relationship, keep moving forward.

If you got a better job, keep at it.

If you joined a better church, stay worshipful at it.

If you miss the friends you’ve outgrown, make new friends. Don’t fraternize with or try to control outgrown friendships.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “The caterpillar transformed into a beautiful butterfly is no longer a worm. The butterfly doesn’t return to fraternize with or control the worm. Such a retrograde transformation is impossible in Science.”

We live in spiritual transformation.

You can say I’m in denial, but I don’t think the cancer killed my Dad. He is still alive to me. And, I think of Dad more often than on Father’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong. My experience is not always pleasant. But it is thought provoking.

Dad could be intimidating when I was growing up in the 1960-1970s. He fulfilled the model of breadwinner-who-never-helped-with-housework.

A 2017 Pew Research poll reported, “Fatherhood in America is changing in important and sometimes surprising ways. Today, fathers who live with their children are taking a more active role in caring for them and helping out around the house.”

Dad and I added to those changes. Directly and indirectly.

After I married in the 1980s, I made sure my husband helped in the house, because Dad indirectly taught me that not to help was unsustainable.

My husband grew up lacking the knowledge so my strategy took time and a mountain of patience. I only made myself angry when I expected my husband to remember not to wash the red shirt with whites.

I had to remind myself he was inexperienced and remind him not to wash the red shirt with whites. We may be adults, but some things still need practice. And practice is needed to change for the better.

But one thing remained unchanged from my childhood. Dad’s tradition of weekly church attendance. Therefore, my husband and I took our children to church. It gave me a reference, to rectify fatherhood with, when I was a teen.

Fatherhood isn’t only about providing the sperm or bringing home the paycheck or cleaning the potty. It’s about growing compassion, strength, and courage. It’s about teamwork and respect.

My dad overbalanced his lack of helping in the house with respect for me. Despite the fact I was a girl, he taught me how to operate and maintain machinery on the family farm. He taught me to nurture the crops of awareness and perseverance.

Speaking of children as “little ones” Christ Jesus told his disciples, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

In the Greek, despise is defined as, to think down upon or against anyone.

I never felt despised by Dad because he despised anything that would set me back. He despised self-centeredness, idleness, and dishonesty. He despised the ideology of blaming others for failure.

If something needed to be done for success, do it.

I believe Dad’s attitude contributed to the social changes being made today even if he didn’t contribute to the housework. Dad showed us children we were valuable.

The Pew report mentioned above said, “Dads are just as likely as moms to say that parenting is extremely important to their identity.”

Today, fatherhood is being cultivated at many levels.

Fatherhood programs are initiated and developed at federal, state and local levels to support children and families.

Weeklong or weekend Fatherhood Retreats are popular, many of them faith based.

Books are found and studied to improve fatherhood.

And, what are some of the results when we cherish the spirit of fatherhood?

The Child and Family Research Center at the LBJ School in Texas reports that children who grow up with involved fathers are 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school, 75% less likely to have teen birth, and two-times as likely to go to college and find stable employment after high school.”

 

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is the Everyday Spirituality Columnist. Her books are, 21st Century Science and Health, from science & religion to God, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter.

First read in Farm Show magazine May 2018:

Written by Anonymous

  • The other day, a friend at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse not far away and he asked me, “Why didn’t we have a durg problem when you and I were growing up?” I replied that I DID have a drug problem when I was young.
  • I was drug to church every Sunday morning.
  • I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.
  • I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults.
  • I was drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the tetacher or the preacher, or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.
  • I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity.
  • I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds and cockleburs out of dad’s field.
  • I was drug to the homes of family, friends, and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood, and if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.

 

I know it’s hard to find time to read, but if you do make time, here are two books that have ramped up my appreciation for writer’s who put into words what’s in my head. I don’t think the authors are “right” or “wrong,” they just give me something to think about in new ways, rather than regurgitating the same old nonsense that doesn’t progress humanity. New insights bring on more new insights.
#1

Rob Bell’s book, What is the Bible?

Bell’s writing comes with the frill of being laid-back. He adds, maybe too many, parenthesis, but you can’t help but feel like your sitting at a coffee table having a chat with a normal human being who takes life seriously yet with humor.

#2

“Our Oriental Heritage,” by Will Durant, is a gem I happened to stumble upon when looking for an audio book to listen to at night. I will caution, that at times, Durant drags on with the horrors that human beings commit, but I really liked the chapters where he picks apart the Bible.

From my memoir,”I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter:”

At 4-H camp I bumped into Susan, member of church #57, who brought her Bible to read during free time. I happened to walk into the cabin when Susan was reading and she asked me, “Do you read the Bible?”

“Yes, mainly at church,” I said tentatively.

“Then you know we were all born sinners?” Susan continued.

“Not really. I mean, well, I don’t think about being born sinners,” I offered, feeling unprotected.

Susan sat up in her bed, galvanized, and said, “How can you say that? Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Don’t you believe Jesus is your Lord and Savior from sin?”

“Umm, I like Jesus and think he is a good example to follow,” I answered, puzzled at how my “believing” could save me. Action or Grace seemed a bit more effective in the saving department.

“You have to believe Jesus is your savior or you will go to hell,” Susan emphasized.

“I think hell is a state of mind, not a place,” I said, repeating what I heard in my Sunday school.

“Hell is where you go when you sin and we were all born sinners because Adam and Eve are our parents and they fell into sin,” said Susan.

“Um, I have to go now, to find out what activity I’m signed up for next,” I replied before scurrying out the door.

I wasn’t about to drop the bomb that I believed the Adam and Eve story was just a myth to learn by, not a truth to harp on. Embedded into my immature psyche was the concept that God was my origin and God was sinless. I didn’t think I was sinless, but aiming to be like God made more sense than trying to not be like myself.