Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fatherless Generation

On my first flight of The Trip That Almost Wasn't, I opened Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story by John Sowers and within exactly 1.5 paragraphs, I was crying.

It was only the forward.
And we hadn't even lifted off yet.

 "Fatherless men need friends who are proud of them." (forward by Donald Miller) I was done. Two paragraphs in. That's all it took.

I flew through the rest of the book, curled up in a vinyl seat in O'Hare F-11. It's fairly short and an easy read, but it yanked my heart so hard. Of course I could only think about our Robert. It helped me make sense of so much more of him. It gave words to all of my sinking suspicions.

"Fatherlessness creates an appetite in the soul that demands fulfillment." - John Sowers, Fatherless Generation

"Debilitated by their inadequacy, they live in a continual state of apathy. 'Everyone has given up on me,' they think, 'so why should I care about anything? Why should I even try?'"  - John Sowers, Fatherless Generation

What surprised me the most was not how closely Robert aligned with the traits of fatherlessness. What surprised me was realizing how easy it was to love this boy, and how quickly our love began to change things.

I would read about apathy, about lashing out, about disregard for authority and it would remind me of the kid I met 2 years ago, not the one I know now. (Please do not tell him I just called him a kid.) Yes, he'll fight the fall-out for a very long time, but now he knows he has all our love. He knows he has all of us. It changes things.

So of course it makes me wonder, how many other Roberts are out there? It seems safe to assume that there's at least one on every block. What if every family found theirs and stubbornly refused to stop loving him? Or her? We're commanded to care for the orphans...What if we all really understood that even though our country has abandoned the concept of orphanages, we're clearly a nation whose fathers have chosen to stay away? The orphans are everywhere.

It seemed so improbable that the consistent love of two nerdy white people could help fulfill the appetite in the soul of a child with "Pain" "Kills" tattooed on the tops of his hands - black on black.

He shops at Max 10, we shop at the Gap. Trey Songz/Avett Brothers. McChicken/Pad Thai. For a slick second, these silly differences made me feel like we'd be foolish to even try. They made him feel like we were up to something.

But we pushed, he started pushing too, and before long, we met right here where we stand. We stopped, looked around, and saw that in choosing to step right over the ditch separating the absurd and the necessary, we had become a family.

So yes, I loved this book. I hope you'll read it and if you do, I hope you'll tell me what you think.

*Book links are Amazon Affiliate links.