Micah, Jett and Fisher-
I want so much for all three of my sons. Specifically, I want these five things.
2) A desire to chase God
3) Unconditional love for your mother that is unmatched by your love for anyone else (until the day you marry)
4) Knowledge that I’m proud of you
Let’s talk about that last one. Does it mean that I want you to have the coordination of a gymnast? No. Well… yes, but with your genetics this isn’t an option. What I’m actually saying comes right out of a very personal philosophy of mine, and that is that every evil this world has ever known has come out of an inappropriate emphasis put on an idea, feeling or lifestyle.
I want the three of you to have balance. I want the three of you to avoid cults.
This isn’t a letter about religion. In fact, we’re a fairly religious family. Connotations of cults and religion go together like germs and toilet seats. This, instead, is a letter about metaphorical Kool-Aid, and the definition of “cult” I’m working with is “a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone too much.”
With over-emphasis, anything can create cult-like followings. I want to stress to you that none of them are worth alienating the people that care for you, be it friends or family. No politician, preacher, professor, musician, athlete, hobby or fad will ever be able to determine for you who you should be and the choices you should make. No chasm between you and those you care about is worth burning a bridge to avoid the feeling that you are somehow responsible for maintaining relationships with those that you love in the face of differences.
I have lost what I had hoped to be lifelong friends over the most trivial of passing fancies, that either I, or someone else allowed to become such a point of emphasis in our lives that the cult overshadowed the cost. I can recollect the inscriptions on the imaginary tombstones of cult-torpedoed past relationships as I’m writing this.
“Would rather smoke weed ”
“Hasn’t left house since X-box was invented”
“Chasing girls with no intention of catching one”
“Dave Ramsey said I can’t retire if I spend money on fast food, so we can’t be friends”
“The gym is my church”
“Majored in theology”
And so on…
It’s perfectly fine to have hobbies, interests, and a desire to better yourself… but you have to have them, they can’t have you. Does that make sense? Here’s an example- You. You three kids are the cult that I am currently most susceptible to. I have kids, but being a father can’t define and consume me if I expect to still be myself, and be the person that your mother somehow agreed to have kids with. You can be an important, irreplaceable part of my life without becoming my whole life, and defining who I can and can’t be around. The struggle against the pull of the cult is very real, though. I feel the desire to isolate myself against all that might challenge who I am as a dad, husband, teacher, writer or any other detail of my persona. My hope and prayer for you is that you remember to struggle to keep the details just that, details.
Who you are as people will ultimately be reflected in the way that you treat those who are different than you, and I’m telling you right now, as brothers go, you already have plenty of differences among each other. Please don’t let the cults in life take you away from depth of your own brotherhood. Avoid sameness, seek balance, and enjoy the substance of the wonderfully diverse place we call Earth.
Nice article! I listen to The Dave Ramsey Show podcast when I workout and I always feel unnerved when people call in and blindly follow Dave’s advice without having the slightest clue why. (For the record – I bet Dave hates this too because I always get the feeling wants to come across as a teacher that educates people into making informed decisions, not a master that gives out orders)