THE FORCE THAT DIVIDES
I’m not perfect
“ . . . but I am your father and you are my daughter. That will never change and there is nothing that we can do about it. But we can decide not to be a family anymore. All we have to do is let our divisions become permanent.”
That’s what I told my teenager not long ago the morning after I reacted to a family misdemeanor like it was a Class A Felony. In the moment (of course) I thought my anger to be fully justified—necessary in fact, unless I wanted to be guilty of sparing the rod.
I went to bed convinced of that and awoke convicted that I was guilty of PPP: Piss-Poor-Parenting. In my anger I had created a division in my family. Like all divisions, it was small at the start. But like a crack in concrete, it was destined to become bigger if action was not taken to repair it.
And it was incumbent upon me, as the father and Leader of my family, to initiate that repair lest it fester into a yawning gorge that could no longer be traversed. That crack could become permanent if I let it be. It was up to me.
You learn a lot about Leadership from being a parent—or you don’t
I suppose that is why Paul told Timothy that a man who is incapable of managing his own family could not be depended upon as Leader in the church. If we incompetently face the most elemental Leadership challenges in our lives as men, how is that we could expect to bear up to the others, the ones that range far beyond the relationships between the people in our own households.
Part of that competence is recognizing that while people are formed to be united there is a powerful Force that seeks to disrupt our communion and there always has been.
The same Force that seeks to estrange my daughter from me is the one that broke up the Beatles. It is also so the same Force that is persistently about the work of undermining our nation. It would have us be the dis-United States of America. That is the design of the Force.
Given the human drive to unite, you would think the Force would have to go to great lengths to drive us apart—but that is not so
It need only make Paul and John jealous of one another and convince Ringo that it was not his place to intercede. It need only have me raise my voice to my daughter and convince me in the morning that the crack I had caused would heal itself. And, for our nation, it need only persuade some citizens to turn away from some others merely because the color of their skin is different. And then convince the rest of us that this is a problem that will take care of itself without Leadership.
It won’t. Whether family or nation, the Force that divides wins if the fathers ignore the cracks.
Don’t listen to that voice telling you to be Ringo. That’s the Force that divides. Listen to the other voice, the one telling you that a cord of three strands is not easily broken, that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
That’s the Father’s voice. Listen that voice. And act.