I know a guy. He’s young (30-something), able bodied, relatively intelligent, but with number of dead brain cells from way too much pill-popping and pot-smoking in his life. (God bless him…if he’d get saved God might be able to work that to his good one day.) He’s not a bad guy, just lost and clueless.
For the sake of this story we’ll call him Tommy. Well, Tommy was married for 10+ years. He has an elementary school-age son. Tommy had a problem with drugs and has a problem with alcohol, which I assume because he’s been known to roll up to work early in the morning with a beer in his hand. He and his wife of ten years are now divorced and he’s re-married with a new baby.
This fellow (i deleted the word yo-yo cause God don’t like ugly), quit a high paying union job with benefits….and stayed unemployed for a year during the separation and divorce. This was done “conveniently” in time to not have his high union wages counted when his child support calculation was done. He lucked out and it was agreed he would only have to only pay $400 a month. He complained about that.
He is married to a woman who makes more than he did when he earned top union wages. However, between them they can’t come up with his monthly obligation to his son. I suppose he may feel a greater obligation to his current wife and new child than he does to his ex-wife and old kid.
His ex-wife had always worked part-time, even while she attended school, but was unemployed when they divorced. Since then, he has worked piece-meal jobs and laid out of work on a fairly regular basis. He’s a couple of months behind in his child support. Though his ex-wife is now employed it’s at an entry level pay grade. She has a hard time making ends meet with her small check and his markedly inconsistent child support payments.
What galls me, I guess, is that while her family is pitching in to help buy her son’s school clothes, this model dad gets on FB and brags about what a great dad he is and “everyone” knows he’s always taken care of his kids. Granted, he’s bought the boy a couple of school outfits, but a growing child needs more than that to get by with for any length of time. He needs shoes, he needs school supplies, he needs other things. Tommy’s ex-wife has been the first mother in several generations of her family to rely on government help. Tommy’s son lost his insurance coverage when Tommy quit working enough union hours to qualify for benefits.
It’s just so sad to see someone so far in denial, so lost, so unconcerned with the welfare of his own child. He fusses at his ex wife for not providing things like cable television, etc. for their son, but he hasn’t paid her any child support other than a few dollars here and there to placate her. He doesn’t offer to take his son to dental or doctor’s appointments. Before getting fired he worked a part-time job in the same town in which his son lived and often passed up opportunities to see his son, even if for a few short minutes, so he could hurry home.
If this story seems familiar to you it’s because it could be a picture of someone in your family, someone that you work with, perhaps one of this story’s main characters is you (figuratively speaking, of course).
Drugs and alcohol wreak havoc in people’s lives. It makes them lose their good sense. It makes them mis-prioritize their lives. It makes them be an absentee father or absentee mother whether they live inside or outside the same home as their children. It turns them into a poor excuse for a spouse. It affects their ability to support their family financially, spiritually, and emotionally. And worse of all it deadens them to the call of God on their lives.
When folks who are entrenched in this lifestyle perform as if they are in bondage, it’s because they are. When people are called out on their action or inaction they are prone to defending or justifying their actions. They often do this because they want to convince others that their actions are okay, as if that act will make it all better. The truth is, no one can guilt or shame them into changing. They will have to hit their own rock bottom and want to make a change for the better for themselves and their families.
If you know someone like this, pray for them. Share the gospel with them, live out the Holy Spirit in you in their presence on a regular basis. Above all, love them with the love of Christ.
In my humanness, in the flesh, I want to take this guy I know and shake some sense into him…and maybe smack him on the back of the head for good measure. When he justifies his actions to me or corrects small inaccuracies in my thinking about the situation, I know he is struggling to make himself feel better about his own lack in his role as a dad. I remind myself that most people who use drugs and alcohol do so because they can’t deal with some area of their life, or deal with hurts they have been dealt, or feelings of worthlessness that someone has inundated them with. There is always a core reason.
I still want to “Tommy” how he is affecting his son…not just for the present, but for the boy’s entire lifetime. One day his son will grow up and realize that the financial lack his household experienced during his childhood was contributed to by his dad. He’ll have to deal with becoming the adult child of an alcoholic and all the inner conflict that brings. However, because I serve a higher standard I will, instead, endeavor to practice what I preach. I will love him in the Lord and pray for him. It is the right thing to do as a Christian, and I encourage you to consider doing the same thing with the “Tommy”s in your life.