Children · Faith · Legal

Where art thou, hope?

“Why fight when I’m likely to lose in a system that doesn’t respect me?”

This is a question I hear often on “The Fathers Rights Movement” Facebook page. It at once infuriates me and fills my heart with sorrow that can only be felt if you’ve also been there. It reveals at once both a deep love for one’s children (which is good), but an elevation of one’s children or one’s desired experiences with one’s children to supreme status (which is bad). It is replacing God with something that can never satisfy like He can.

By way of example, an anonymous poster had this to say:

So a few days ago I sat in a courtroom in support of a friend, and listening to other cases. 3 different cases were about Father’s that were being refused the right to see their children. 1 of the 3 fathers stood out, because he had told his Ex that if he didn’t get to see his kids, he would kill himself. The response? To arrest him … and throw him in jail. Is this the end of the road I am fighting for? to learn that no matter what I do no matter how I fight, they will find a reason to arrest me and throw me in jail, just because I want to see my kids? I am not condoning what any of the Father’s did, in any way, but this current system is Forcing people to become things they never would otherwise. My Ex refuses to allow me to see my own kids, because I refuse to date or have sex with her. So is this the end point? not that she’s in the wrong for her demands, but because I’m driven so deep into despair and depression that I would rather die then go another day without them? Is this the glorified justice system that our Family Court believes in. And if it is, what’s the point of fighting?

When I was in the midst of the custody battle for my daughter (a battle I very reluctantly entered as a last resort), I fought the battle every day.

The conversations I had with myself and God repeated themselves faithfully several times a day.

“What if I lose everything?”

“Lord, I want to be close to You, but please don’t draw me closer by taking away my daughter, whom I love.”

“Lord, let Your will be done. I repent of my lack of trust. Give me a heart to trust Your will, regardless of the outcome.”

This went on for the 9 months or so it took for the psychological and social study reports to be completed.

Now, in my case, the outcome was relatively favorable compared to how it could have gone. I didn’t get everything I asked for, but things have improved significantly. I still grieve daily, but not to the point of depression. It is not a grief that is without hope. I know my God, and because of Him, I lack nothing that I need.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers … that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13

But I surely can identify with the fear that the person above expressed in his post. I thank God for my wife, who consistently reminded me of who I am as an adopted son of the Father, God, through His Son, Jesus, and His sacrificial atonement, made necessary through, among other things, my rebellious disbelief. I also thank Him for the friends He put me with and community He gave me who would remind me of the same thing.

Sadly, having mental health issues like depression makes one a social pariah in the eyes of people who don’t know them. It makes people uncomfortable. Often, they assume the worst. So rather than confront those issues, there is natural pressure to hide these issues so that they can’t be used against the people who are suffering.

I’m not saying this person should just blab to anybody and everybody about his depression in all its ugliness and messiness (least of all someone who is inclined to, in the midst of a custody battle, withhold his children from him), but the worst thing he could do is hold it all in without seeking counsel of a trustworthy and trusted confidant. Whether you have these things or not, or whether you can afford professional counseling or not, seek the Lord. Seek a community of believers who will stir you to worship Him above all things. Who will weep with you and comfort you amidst your struggles. And the God of truth will give you a peace that surpasses all understanding.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:25-33

The question, “Why fight,” is because your children are better served with you — a healthy you — in their lives to love, guide, and teach them. A healthy you requires that you not suffer in isolation. Only destruction will come from that. But if you suffer, suffer righteously, in community, and with a purpose to glorify the God who has given you life and this good love you have.

Whether you win in court or not, the suffering does not end; it is just displaced. But in order to declare victory, you have to know where the real battlefield is. It is not in the court, but in your heart.

If you do not believe such a God exists … maybe because of your suffering, or maybe for some other reason … let’s chat. It’s a good place to start.

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