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Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Essentiality of Parenthood

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)

What does it mean to fully know ourselves?  This is a struggle for all addicts, as we come to terms with the falsehoods of what we wanted to be that we created to avoid being who we really are.  We, all fallen and broken men, fight with reality.  It is our downfall.

So, when we decide to heed the call to become persons living in accordance with our own nature, the nature which God sees when He looks at us, the very nature that He not only created but Himself bore and after whom it is fashioned, we must look to the Divine to understand who it is we are called to be.

If we are immature, and must then move into maturity, we must see this maturity in light of God and who He is to us.  To be an adult means to grow more in the direction of God rather than the selfishness of immaturity.

So, if childhood is marked by being a child cared for by a parent, and God Himself loves us and cares for us as a Father, then part of growing up and maturing is becoming a parent.  We must embrace this aspect of our nature.

Our bodies are designed for it (when all is working properly, as with all other physical attributes), and our minds are capable of bearing this responsibility.  In fact, I would argue that we need to be parents in some way.

When the Orthodox Church blesses a marriage, the prayers refer often to the bearing of children.  Monastics themselves, when they reach higher degrees of spiritual maturity, take on the responsibilities of bearing 'spiritual children.'

Taking responsibility and caring for others is an essential part of our humanity.

Modern life says that marriage isn't about parenting, but about sex and romance and perhaps love.  We are told that we cannot raise our children as easily as experts, and we have come to a point where we have forgotten the art and have to read 4,000 books to find out how to deal with things that our great-grandparents never thought twice about.  I say 'great-' because this is the third generation in the West cut off from its past.  This cutting-off has left us as 'blank slates' for theoreticians like Dr. Spock to play lab rat with.

By the time we figured out he was wrong, it was too late.

We have all kinds of parental supervision and replacement 'services' that help us remain 'in the economy.'  Goodness knows that there are plenty of people who would like to opt out without having to give up their goodies, but our grasp is, by design, less than our reach.  Marketing and advertising keep us constantly hungry for more.

Addicts must learn to be parents, both to the children of their loins and the 'spiritual children' they mentor through sponsorship.  Make no mistake, a sponsor is a type of parent.  After all, a parent's #1 job is to raise up an adult.  A sponsor is supposed to raise up a mature person in recovery.

We need to do this, both for our fellow man and for our own spiritual health.  Without this selflessness, our design is never fully actualized.  We will never know who we really are until we take on this task, just as we never know who we really are until we learn to live in commitments, have a job, become self-sustaining, etc.  Being kept in selfish dependency is no way to grow up.

Some readers may say, "I'm too old at this point to have children."  Baloney.  There are plenty of people out there who need a parent, even if it is not biological in origin.  There are broken families and broken people who need your care in order for them to complete their own growth cycle.

Go out there and find someone.  Be a sponsor.  Be a mentor.  Adopt, both literally and figuratively.

You will find that there are many amazing lessons in store, both hard and pleasant, if you will grow into this important part of your humanity.

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