Saturday, June 15, 2013

Contemplating Legacies

     As Father's Day draws nearer with every passing minute, my mind is cluttered. A traffic jam of barely-related musings blare loudly, competing for my attention. Try to keep up.

     It seems to me that people often adopt a unique sense of entitlement around holidays. This phenomenon perplexes me most when I observe it in christians, who are supposed to walk in an attitude of humility and thankfulness. Most Sundays, believers show up to church professing that they deserve nothing but damnation, and yet on holidays we find ourselves stamping our feet in anticipation of what we are owed.  These two attitudes cannot be reconciled. We cannot embrace the world's notion of what we "deserve" without cheapening the depth of grace.

     As I come to terms with my monumental mistakes, I have tried my best to continually embrace a mindset of gratitude for my life.  On Father's Day, I look back and realize that I am truly blessed beyond words to even be a part of my family's life anymore.  Every day that I arise to the sound of my children's voices, I have been given a gift that is absolutely priceless.  I want to retain this perspective forever.

     My wife and I have resolved to not conceal this part of our marriage's history from our kids.  Though it would be simple to bury this from their view considering how young they are, this is not our desire.  My sincere hope is that they would be able to understand and even benefit from the trials and tests we've overcome.

     This is a lofty goal, I know. I spend many mornings contemplating one simple thought:  "How can I stop my children from hating me when they grow up?"  In all honesty, I fear that my errors will one day cause a rift in my relationship with my daughters. I recently finished reading Wild At Heart by John Eldridge, and he spends much of his book describing how parents often leave their children with a hidden wound that warps their outlook on the world.

    I believe that not all parents screw up their kids, but it certainly seems that healthy parental relationships are tragically rare.  Wounded people pass down legacies of hurt to their children, who often turn around and continue the pattern in the future.  I want so desperately to break the cycle, to cast off the surname of disappointment that has cursed humanity since our common father Adam fell into sin.  This is why we are going to be honest with our daughters.

    We're leaving a trail.  One day, my children will hear my songs, read this blog and know the depth of my fall and the mercy that rescued me.  Until then, I pray for the strength and clarity of purpose to raise them in a way that proclaims virtue over my past.


  1. Your daughters will grow up knowing how great a man you are because of the example you set for them and how much you love them and when they are old enough to fully understand all you are going through, they will only see EVEN MORE how much you love their mother/your wife. They will see the greatest example of forgiveness in their lives, since Jesus died for their sins and be thankful that you have lived a life of honesty. As much as we like to imagine every family, Christian or not, as perfectly harmonious, but it isn't always that way. There are many families with generational gaps stemming from riffs between parents and children. Keep your head up and know that the man and father you are for your children and wife is being noticed and will continue to pave the way for those in situations similiar to yours. God bless you Ray Hartsfield.


  2. Hi Ray;
    -----You have a thing of beauty in your life. God renews. We are told He forgets when He forgives. I always wonder how He can forget when He knows our minds to their deepest, last detail, and we don't forget. Accepting His healing after we've repented is difficult because history makes the mind, and history does not change. Only our attitudes do. You changed your mind about what you were. You are no longer that.
    -----You have a thing of beauty to build. It is what you hold in your arms every morning, and the pools of life you created with her. Your love for her will be made of your thoughts and feelings about her and them and your doings for them all. We can't forget the mistakes we've made because they're the history of us. But we see God making greatness from man's failures all around us, and we read more of that in His Holy Word. It is the life of love. This is something about God we fail to emote completely. The bad things we do are ours. But their effects are God's. He turns them from disasters by tying them to truth. And whether the route is circuitously long, or short and to the point, He will fashion appropriate good from the bad we've done.
    -----I think this bothers us somewhat, because it is so close to saying sin is not a problem. But sin is. And for that there should be some bother about acknowledging the benefits God can extract from our mistakes. To know God can and does catalyzes our final transformation that is not only an escape from a mooring to a bad habit, but also a release into the joy of a good one. While you’re in that joy, the grave markers of the bad ones fall into complete disrepair and the graves become lost. Their ghosts are not needed for the strength of new habits and attitudes.
    -----And it’s the turn to new habits and attitudes that is maybe more important than is the turn from bad ones. The thing of beauty is made of new habits, new attitudes, new ideas and emotions and events they all cause in a new place to live, hollowed from the Rock. For from that Rock flows new life. It is a living on the renewed side of repentance, where Christ is to play and work and laugh and talk, while that other side is becoming mere pictures in a dusty photo album.
    -----Thank you for holding repentance up for its ongoing importance. As folks who are false (Rom 3:4) we are imperfect, and continually making mistakes. Therefore we are in a continuous need to repent. Though each repentance lays a grave which can be left behind, each moment reveals another flaw for repentance’s necessity. We truly are always walking into the newness of life. May your daughters learn this and your precious bride feel it.

    God love you,
    I do, too.

  3. Thank you both so much for your feedback on here. This post particularly was a very sensitive one for me -- a dad's relationship with his children is truly precious, and I hate that I ever put it at risk. Nothing is worth risking that.

    I grew up with a rather strained relationship in my household and I know what it feels like to feel an unspoken distance between you and your parents. I want so much more for my kids than that. Be praying for us as we continue this journey, and thank you SO much for reading.

  4. Dear Ray,
    Your blog is a blessing. For a long time in my life, I let myself slide so many times because the feeling of doing something wrong (sinning) and not feeling guilty became so embedded in my lifestyle. By reading your blog, I realized that every single human in this earth needs grace. The more we tell ourselves that we can sin and get away with it, the more fearful we should be in front of God's judgement. I've learned to be more forgiving of others but at the same time, I've realized that I, myself, should not point fingers at anyone, because we are all in dire need of God's everlasting grace. Thank you. God bless you and your family.

  5. Something truly dark happens when a believer becomes so calloused in their heart that they no longer feel the painful prick of conviction when they stumble. Just like you said, this situation should bring along with it a sincere fear of judgment. We all need grace, sometimes we just lose track of our need. The difference between a broken man and a proud man is not his need for grace, but rather his awareness of this need.

    Thanks for reading, and check out my new posts as they roll out!