Friday, June 22, 2012

The Village

"A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity" -Prov. 17:17 Someone rather famous wrote a book several years ago describing how “It takes a village to raise a child.” Children grow in all sorts of situations, but the healthiest kids grow up in healthy communities. My family has been fortunate to be a part of a phenomenal neighborhood of friends for most of our lives. It has been such a blessing for us, but more of a blessing for me. It does take a healthy community to raise healthy kids but it also produces healthy parents, and more specifically, healthy dads. Life on this side of heaven will never be easy, but it can always have purpose, and the dad’s of my kid’s friends have been a blessing to me. I have made some poor decisions and stupid choices over the years, but I’m 100% convinced that without these friends, my life would be less than it is today. They have blessed me with their example of parenting. We all watch those around us and compare notes. Envy and jealousy accomplish nothing, but comparison to learn is a different story. I have watched these men my whole life and learned valuable lessons on how to raise both daughters and sons. Their skills as dads has spurred me on to be a better father. They have blessed me with accountability. I have worked and labored in our community for almost 30 years. We know each other well enough to “speak the truth” with each other. We are able to be honest and frank. It’s not always easy, but it’s true. We’ve been able to reduce the “blind spots” in each other. We're not perfect, but better men because of each other. They have blessed me with their example of marriage. Our wives are great friends too and our mixture, through Bible study and time together, has solidified our ties to each other. So much of being good parents begins with being good spouses. When things are healthy with Jeanie and me, it sets the stage for healthy parenting (and grand-parenting) with our kids. They have blessed me with their Christian walk. These men aren't of high integrity and wisdom because they read their horoscope every day. They are true men of God. Not perfect, but doing their best to follow "after God's own heart." I've studied God's Word with these men, prayed with these men, and wept with these men. They have truly been God's instruments to draw me closer to Him. They have blessed me with their smile. During the fun times and the tough times, they have stood beside me with an encouraging word or handshake. Just passing them on the road with a smile has been the reminder to carry on in ways I couldn't muster up by myself. Yep, it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to raise a parent as well. We all need community, no matter how independent we think we are. We all need people. No exceptions. So thank you men (a few that are pictured here) for your example on my life. Thanks for letting your "iron" [life] sharpen my iron [life]." Thanks for believing in me. Thanks for speaking the truth to me. Thanks for being my brothers. And thanks for being a part of the village. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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