Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

9.15.2009

The Art of Family: Fathers


This article commences a new, two-week series focused on one’s family. Although no family member is perfect, we will be putting the responsibility squarely on your shoulders, dear readers, to love, edify, and enable your family to love and good works.

In Pride and Prejudice, one finds family dynamics that are uniquely memorable, with almost every member of the Bennet family possessing some dysfunctional idiosyncrasy. On first glance, Mr. Bennet appears to be one of the sensible ones, though. He is learned, levelheaded, and pragmatic. Yet the truth of his character reveals itself:
“[Elizabeth’s] father captivated by youth and beauty, and that appearance of good humour, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman whose weak understanding and illiberal mind, had very early in their marriage put an end to all real affection for her…her ignorance and folly had contributed to his amusement….Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. …She endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible. But she had never…been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents; talents which rightly used, might at least have preserved the respectability of his daughters, even if incapable of enlarging the mind of his wife (Chapter 19).”
Here is a man who, if he had existed outside the pages of fiction, would have stood in front of the Judgment Seat with no possible rationalization or excuse for his behavior, proving wholly responsible for lack of care and protection towards his family. Yet isn’t it sad that his two “wise” daughters never exerted themselves towards inspiring their father to something other than pessimism and cranial self-absorption? Once Elizabeth Bennet futilely attempts to convince her father of the foolishness of letting Lydia, a younger sister, traipse off to vacation with a regiment of soldiers. One cannot help but wonder if Elizabeth would have succeeded if she had been accustomed to go to her father for permission in all the little quandaries life brings. Thus if her father had become accustomed to governing his daughters, he might have been more apt to interfere with Lydia’s plans for her own sake.
Such observations certainly do not minimize the responsibility of fathers. They are required to care for their family physically, morally, and spiritually regardless of the aid they receive from their wife, daughters, and sons (“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [I Timothy 5:8].”) Since I am not writing to the fathers, however, but to the sons and daughters, I want you to realize the immense potential there is for you to influence your father in one way or another.
If you make each duty of your father an easier one, you will have succeeded. If you meet his every request with enthusiasm, you will have established trust. If you show him love and respect even when he is not in the best of moods, you will give him joy. If, by doing all these things, you enable him to cease treading water, raise his head, notice the thousands of others drowning around him with no hope, and sound a call to action, then you will have fulfilled your purpose. You may smile, knowing that your quiet actions behind the scenes have given your father the ability to pursue the vision God has given to him. Submission will have brought success.
Corrie ten Boom was one such daughter to her father. For almost fifty years, she was not “Corrie ten Boom The Brave Hider of Jews” but Corrie ten Boom the assistant to her father’s watch shop. She could have continued on in this safe existence, urging her aged father to avoid the risk to his established shop, beautiful home, and beloved family. However, she and her sister Betsie facilitated their father’s conviction that something must be done. Once, when Corrie was attempting to find a home for a Jewish baby, she approached a friend for help:
“Color drained from the man’s face. He took a step back from me. ‘Miss ten Boom! I do hope you’re not involved with any of this illegal concealment…It’s just not safe! Think of your father!’…Unseen by either of us, Father had appeared in the doorway. ‘Give the child to me, Corrie,’ he said. Father held the baby close, his white beard brushing its cheek, looking into the little face with eyes as blue and innocent as the baby’s…’You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.’”
Does your father have the freedom to direct you? Does your father have implicit trust in you? Can your father risk his and your life for God’s kingdom, knowing that you will gladly follow? Your answers could make the difference between having Mr. Bennet for a father, and having Mr. ten Boom. More importantly, however, it will make THE difference in your life: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee (Exodus 20:12).”

The adorable picture in this post's header was drawn by my little brother and in-house artist, Jonah. ;-)
Bibliography
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Barnes and Noble Publishing, New York, 2006.
ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. Spire Books, New Jersey, 1971.

2 comments:

  1. A very good post, Mikaela. I appreciated what you shared and it gave me much to think on. I look forward to the rest of the series! Thanks for taking on this important topic. :)

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  2. Thanks for your faithful "visits" and comments!

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