I am a firm believer that we are all creators of our own destiny. To believe otherwise would only serve to prevent me from taking the necessary action needed to live the life I desire. That being said, there are many things I can’t change. The two that are most relevant as a father to an addicted child are, other people and the past. If I could I’m sure I would have manipulated them to make me feel better by now.
I believe the reason I can’t change those things is because a power greater than me wants me to learn from them and use those lessons to create a better future for others and myself.
One of my favorite quotes is by C.S. Lewis who said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.” Recently I’ve been looking back to find the beginning in order to get a better idea on how to change the ending.
It’s no coincidence that most of the struggles we face today as parents can be traced back to the time when we first began leaving the home to support our families. Progress always includes a trade-off and the industrial era marked the greatest leap in progress we’d ever experienced as a culture. Before the industrial era, sons and daughters spent their entire childhood within close proximity of their parents and parents had a much greater influence in their development. First it was the fathers then during WWII the mothers joined them. Since then our roles as parents have been increasingly outsourced to people we barely know.
Since the beginning of the industrial era things have been picking up speed at an exponential rate and we’ve been forced to try to play catch up. We make new rules from a reactive position because there seems to be no time to pause long enough to look at the big picture. While our noses are pointed at the grindstone and we look for the next great thing to scratch our insatiable itch for progress, our children are left to fend for themselves.
In Robert Bly’s book, A Sibling Society, he describes our culture as one where adults regress toward adolescence and adolescents have no desire to mature. Admiration and respect for elders has disappeared, tradition has eroded, ancestors have been forgotten, and families are being destroyed everywhere, by everyone. He describes the schools as bastions of boredom where the tribal rituals have been replaced by mantras of self-centeredness like do your own thing. In a sibling society we must bring everyone to our level rather than raise ourselves up to the level of the mentors who came before us.
In every culture, there are rites of passage which are used to denote a significant transition in one’s life. The most celebrated one has always been the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s been going on since early tribal days when parents and elders celebrated the day that all their hard work paid off and the child began contributing to the tribe as an adult. Many indigenous cultures including Native Americans still practice rituals they’ve been using for thousands of years. As for the rest of us whose ancestors came here in search of a better life, many of our native rituals seem to have gotten lost in transition as we set our sights on progress in a new world.
Drug use among adolescents has become the new rite of passage into adulthood as our children seek that sense of belonging we all need as human beings.
When our forefathers created their visions of a better world some 300+ years ago, it’s highly doubtful they could have anticipated that their great-great grandchildren would be shooting dope as a way to cope with the huge void left in their lives as their parents went off to pursue the dreams passed down to them.
Had we known that our ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would result in death, constraint, and misery, I’m fairly certain we would have chosen a different path to progress.
But now we know and the timing couldn’t be better for change.
As I look around at what many people see as darkness, I see reasons for optimism and hope.
The loss of jobs in America means the industrial era is rapidly becoming history and more parents are working from home again.
Children being raised by their grandparents may be God’s way of breaking a 300 year slide in our culture by restoring power back to its elders where it was meant to be.
I’ve survived a lot of struggles in my life but none have been greater than watching my children suffer. My inability to fix it and make their pain go away left me feeling like I was less than a man. Today, I see clearly that it was all necessary in order for me to surrender to a power much greater than me so I may learn to serve that Power.
Lately, I’ve been considering that there may be a bigger plan at work that my limited mind isn’t privy to.
Maybe saving my son and daughter was never meant to be my purpose for being here.
Maybe that was God’s work all along.
Maybe I was meant to suffer this way so I could one day open my eyes and see my real purpose.
Maybe my purpose is to show others what I’ve learned through these struggles so my grandchildren can live in a world free from addiction.
Maybe I can change it!
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