Something is Missing

“I wonder how much of the day I spend just callin’ after you.” 
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Didn’t you notice when you were a teenager and your favorite band had a knock down drag out fight and then someone left or got kicked out (depends on who’s telling the story). Typically it never seemed the same again. That original sound was gone.

Everyone always talks about Journey after Steve Perry left…Arnel is close, but…

We just had a number of deaths in our Sunday School class this past month – moms and grandmothers. There are also a number of other older family members that are frail and needing ever more attention. Families lose members as life marches onward, but it’s never without grief.

Then all of a sudden a young wife and mother who is a dear friend suddenly died. She left behind three children and her husband. They were all just starting the next phase of their lives, kids finishing high school and heading off to college.

People all around you are living in families that are missing someone. These days, according to our social trends, these are choices that people have made. Divorce, abandonment, single-parenthood, and living alone are all much more “normal” than they have ever been. When families fall apart or when they never get stuck together in the first place, something is always missing from our lives. A spouse, parent, sibling, and extended family connection are all holes that never get filled up with substitutions.

That missing piece never gets replaced.

The family is a system that accomplishes essential tasks for individual survival and for the health of our entire society. The individual members of that system; parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. all fulfill important roles.

We have never stopped needing dads. The National Center for Fathering reports this alarming trend from census data:

Children Living with Mother Only-bwh graph

  • Source: US Census Bureau, “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18″: Tables –CH-2, CH-3, CH-4. 1960 – Present. U.S.  Census Bureau July 1, 2012.

What about the costs to our entire society? The U.S. Army now reports that only 30% of 18-24 year-olds would qualify for military service. The rest, 7 out of 10, can’t qualify because they are too fat, didn’t graduate from high school or have a criminal record.  That’s a whole set of family related problems that effect our entire nation.

No system is perfect, but why sabotage it with promiscuity, divorce, single parent-hood, fatherlessness, and illegitimacy? These versions of family life don’t work very well. It’s been documented. We keep doing it because we are shopping for happiness and settling for what’s left.  Once you have children, it’s never about you again…they aren’t here to make you happy, you’re here to raise them.

 “The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career.”   – C.S. Lewis

Today, all I can think about are my friends who are trying to figure out how to put their lives back together as a family without their wife/mother.

greif-and-loss-in-adoption-relinquishment

I held a Jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep
The day was warm, and winds were prosy
I said, “Twill keep”

I woke – and chide my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own

– Emily Dickenson

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…”

 

About Randy Wilson

Professor of Sociology at Houston Baptist University I read, think and write about religion and culture in the United States. It's very interesting and very complicated but incredibly exciting. For many years I have been trying to figure out how people learn best (my students and myself). The classes I teach are always in a state of experimentation - trying to reorganize around what students bring to the table and where we have to go.

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