So here’s the deal: I can’t do this on my own. What is “this”? Simply put: everything.
I am a husband. I have failed many times in my relationship. Yet my spouse continues forgiving and loving me. (To be fair, my wife will say the same is true of her, but this isn’t her blog post). I desire to become a better husband every day. To that end, I have parents who have shown me what it means to love your spouse for more than 50 years. We attended pre-marital counseling 15+ years ago with a therapist who ended up being my clinical supervisor this past summer. I have many men and women who have been willing to listen to me and pray for me and offer me kind, gentle words of encouragement. Many people have helped shape me into the husband I am today.
I am a father. It is my goal to: a. be the greatest father ever in the history of the world, and b. never make any mistakes. So far, I have not succeeded with either of those. In order to learn how to be a good father, I can look to my parents, my siblings, my aunts and uncles, my grandmother, my cousins, and so many friends (not to mention my wife!). I have learned so many lessons from people who were willing to talk to me when they could see me struggling with my children. I have sought counsel from so many people who have raised and are still raising their own children. I have shared with other parents who have (for some strange reason) come to me seeking guidance and support.
I am a friend. There have been so many times I have let my friends down, I sometimes wonder why I still have any. Yet still they hang around. During the lowest points of my life, there have been certain friends who were always available, always ready to listen, always ready to stand by me (regardless if they approved of what I was doing or not). In high school, my friends taught me the importance of learning how to accept people’s differences without compromising my principles. That lesson is one that was hard for me to learn. I have learned more and more how to be a friend from those friends who have continued to put up with me.
I am studying to be a therapist. I am part of a cohort of students that have accepted not only me as their classmate, but my wife and children as part of our Marriage and Family Department family. When Shawna went to India on a 10-day mission trip, my children and I were fed by my classmates and professors every day. My children had babysitters when needed. When we have had parties and get-togethers, my family has been welcome and loved. I have learned so much from the perspectives, experiences, knowledge, and wisdom of my cohort, the cohort who graduated last year, and the cohort who is just starting in this program. I have learned a lot about being a therapist from my professors and supervisors who have encouraged and supported me (and put up with me) every step of the way.
I am in recovery. Every day I wake up sober is because of the love, support, encouragement, butt-kicking, and teaching I have received from more than 75 years of experience of others who have 12-stepped their way to health. I have a support system that transcends support groups made up of countless family members and friends.
I am a Christian. Every day, I strive to live a little bit better than I did the day before. I try to love God and love other people. I hope that my eyes are open to opportunities to serve, my ears are open to cries for help, and my mouth is closed until absolutely necessary. I could not even begin to list the people (both believers and non-believers) who have taught me what it means to follow the God, Jesus, and Spirit I believe in.
I can’t do this on my own. I know because I have tried and failed. But with you, and you, and you….
Just maybe we can do this thing called life.