Dr. Wall ponders the two paths that lay before us when we get married and become parents. One is a road to maturity. The other is not so pretty.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
Genesis 5: 21-24
Forty years ago I heard J. Vernon McGee, the Bible teacher on the “Thru the Bible” radio program, teach on the above passage. He said that sometimes we need a wake-up call to make us grow up and that nothing will put the fear of God in you like becoming a father. Did you catch that in the verses above? Enoch lived 65 years when he became the father of Methuselah. But he didn’t start walking with God until after Methuselah was born. And then he walked with God for 300 years. Enoch was a slow study. He needed parenthood to shake him out of his stupor. It took him 65 years to get his act together.
If you want to grow up, get married. If you finally want to put behind childish things become a parent. It’d probably be better if we grew up first, but it often doesn’t work that way.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to grow up. So they just live together, so that they can get their groove on. If you want to freeze your personal development live together without marriage. No waiting for you, right? You want what you want when you want it. Tell yourself that you can do anything you want and there will be NO consequences.
And then if you are spreading your seed around and you make a baby, don’t worry about it. You are god. You decide when you want a baby, between life and death. Sex is just for fun. It’s not for making babies. You want fun. You don’t want babies. That’d mean you’d have to be responsible. And be patient. And not get any sleep for a long time. And you’d have career development problems. You’d be broke. You wouldn’t be able to go do stuff and be free. You’re just not ready. You’re ready for the fun of sex. You’re not ready the responsibility of sex. Responsibility of sex? Come on. It’s just supposed to be fun. No consequences, right? Aborting babies is fine. Tell yourself this. You don’t want anything holding you back, right? No waiting for you. Everything is about you NOW. You wouldn’t want to be responsible or anything. This way you can be immature and never grow up. That’s just fine with you.
Porn will stunt your grown, too. That’s an idea. Masturbate to yourself while you worship yourself on the altar day after day for years and years training yourself to meet your own needs when you want with no relationship problems or anyone else to deal with and live in a fantasy world that can never be actualized except in your own head and see how that affects you after, say, twenty years. Then wake up one day, maybe even married and a father, and realize that you have the selfishness and maturity of a 14-year old. There’s a plan.
Or drink yourself into oblivion. You just want to PAAAAARTY. No. You just don’t want to grow up. If you end up being a husband and a father and you are “that guy”, you gotta feel sorry for your kids and your wife. Your loved one’s, if you have any left, will spend their lives going around picking up after you. If you are really good at this you will alienate your family, so that they won’t want to have anything to do with you and whenever your name comes up everyone will scowl and eyes will roll. Aren’t you the fun one?
Or get a divorce. You just ain’t gonna take no more crap. He or she’d never change anyway. And you sure ain’t. No sense wasting any more of your time. You just want what you want when you want it, right? This has become a theme with you. Forget promises. Forget loyalty and fidelity. Forget sickness and health. That was all a bunch of mumbo jumbo anyway. You just gotta take care of yourself. You’ve been taking care of everyone else. Now it’s your turn. You just gotta do what you gotta do to be happy. Your husband or wife won’t talk to you or talks to you too much or won’t make love to you or tries to make love to you too much or won’t help with the house or is anal about the house or spends money without restraint or saves money too much or won’t go out and have any fun or just goes out and has fun all the time or has too many hobbies or has no life or is too religious or isn’t religious enough, won’t give God the time of day, or never touches you or is clingy, so you’ll divorce his or her sorry butt and go out and find someone who is just the opposite and then when that spouse starts to cramp your style or offend you or hurt you or ignore you or gets mad when your imperfections start to irritate him or her, then you can divorce that person’s sorry butt, too. You wouldn’t want to learn anything or anything.
There’s no end of the things that you can do to occupy your time so that you don’t have to deal with anything. You can put your growing up on hold. Better yet, don’t grow up ever! That’d be boring anyway.
Here’s a true statement: If you get married and become a father or mother, you will either be forced to grow up or life will be hell for you. Those are your options. Either grow up and learn to love and give and forgive and share and be patient and understanding and learn to listen and take advice from your wife or husband or stay immature and demand your rights, demand that you are right, or totally withdraw and put up a wall and call your spouse a control freak for giving you her ideas, fight with her about everything, ignore the kids or yell at them, never come home from work or from hanging out with your buddies, or find things to do to keep you preoccupied all the time, so you don’t actually have to deal with anyone or anything. And then use the excuse that that’s who you are, which in reality is your way to say that you are content to never learn anything. And say that this is how you feel and that your feelings never change and you have to trust your feelings and you have no control over your feelings. Forget choosing and doing the right thing. You don’t need no stinkin’ Ten Commandments. One is fine with you: Obey your feelings and follow them, whatever the cost, and integrity be damned.
If you live for your feelings instead of a higher calling (like right and wrong and God and being true to your word), you won’t only create this nice little cozy hell for yourself, you’ll be making one for all your loved ones and if they have any sense at all they’ll go to therapy, so that they don’t become like you and spread your poison to the next generation and the next and the next. What a legacy you’ll leave. Your claim to fame will be leaving cannon fodder for the many counselors to untangle and in serving as a bad example to avoid like the plague. Hey, you’re just the party guy. You just wanna have fun.
Or you can let marriage and parenthood teach you a thing or two. Nothing will make you humble like working through issues for the rest of your life with your husband or wife. You can’t do it if you are immature. You’ll be too selfish. You’ll be too offended, too controlled, too manipulated, too hurt, too indifferent or mad. If you let a little maturity creep in you’ll discover your spouse isn’t always wrong and you aren’t always right. Or, if you are really wise, you’ll discover that you each have a point and that neither of you are dumb and that when you compare notes and work through things, and listen and compromise and forgive and repent and say you are sorry and change that, hey, you two are an item! Look at you! You start to believe in each other. You start to believe in your spouse. If you are really smart, you’ll start to believe in God, too, because He was the most patient of all and you, for one, don’t deserve all this grace and mercy and all, not with all the crap you forced on people with your previously immature self. Just the thought of that will make you humble, the first step in finally growing up.
Parenting will do that to you, too. Your newborn son or daughter seemingly takes your wife away from you overnight. All of a sudden she’s not looking at you like she did when you first met. She’s looking at her newborn that way. She’s cuddling her little child for hours on end, but has little time or energy for you. How are you supposed to take that? If you don’t let maturity break through, you’ll become mean or withdrawn, while you nurse feelings of rejection. If you are wise, you will see the mercy of God on your life in His generosity in giving you such a loving wife, who is this beautiful, loving mother to your child. And you’ll give and you’ll help out and your wife will secretly love you in her heart as she goes through this stressful time and your hearts will meld again, because you married her for life, not just for 7.2 years. She’ll have plenty of time to make it up later, and, if you are actually mature about it, she’ll WANT to!
Nothing makes you grow up like getting up in them middle of the night with a child whimpering because of earaches or cutting teeth or night mares or that slumber party that is just too loud or your kid’s not coming home in time after that first date. In the still of the night, while you are comforting your child or pacing the floor, you slowly become more mature or your soul shrivels into a knot, with no room for grace or tenderness or kindness or understanding and you find a way to not learn a thing through all that life throws your way.
Two paths. Maturity or immaturity. A blessing to your family or a curse. Gratitude and humility or selfishness and pride. What’s it gonna take to finally shake you up, so that if one of your kids ever has to go to therapy for whatever and the therapist asks is there anyone in your life that you look up to, that your child says, “My mom is awesome” or “I really admire my dad?”
Check out these other blogs by Dr. Wall:
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Dr. Wall comments on the importance of real flesh and blood dads being present with their children every day:
Dr. Wall writes about the all too common problem of wives trying to change their husbands and end up failing and having even more marital problems. He suggests a better road and a more realistic goal: