I have a demanding oilfield job that pays well, and often wonders if, by investing so much time at work, I’m missing “Kingdom of Heaven” opportunities. I want to play more worship music, spend more time with the family, actually spend time with friends, and more; but at the end of an 11 hour day, I’m tapped out. My family gets whatever is left over, I squeeze worship music in after everyone is in bed, and if I see friends at work or at church I have a few minutes to feel like a jerk by revealing how little I know about their lives before it’s time to get back to the responsibilities of the day. It’s terribly isolating.
A big factor is my son Xavier who has autism (“bettah keep that insurance bruh”): the responsibility of the day could be a violent and noisy meltdown that Brandi doesn’t have the spare hands to deal with with the other two very not autistic boys. So my “hey friend, how has that thing that you were telling me about 6 weeks ago ” quickly becomes “I’m sorry I better get him” before there’s any more damage/embarrassment. It’s not that people we know or church staff have been judgmental about his behaviors, but people we don’t know could be disturbed enough to walk out on a church that they might need.
So, through a discovery journey that was kicked off in earnest by Xavier’s autism but fueled by my experiences working in the Air Force and researching African American history, I’ve become a conspiracy realist. That’s great for deep one on one conversations where I can share what I’ve learned and hopefully help someone else avoid some of the dangers I failed to protect my own son from. But all that stuff is too controversial for social situations so I don’t bring it up. So I read, learn, and write when I get the chance (also after bed times).
And the thing is, I wouldn’t be writing this if didn’t think other people didn’t feel similar pressures. Some families have more kids, less money, more disruptive schedules, dual careers, less community, or less faith to deal with the challenges of every day. It’s all different but we all wind up maxed out on time, because we love our families and communities and nobody has programmed the robots to feed everyone yet, at least not for free. So then, the pressure to provide bottles is up onto the top of big silos. My silo provides for everyone I can, but it’s an island too. The best I do with my life is provide for and protect the ones God has given me, but I know that my island won’t last long in isolation, and neither will they. Collaboration, innovation, and investing in a community are the only ways to bring the islands together. How? I don’t pretend to have the best advice, and I’m speaking from the perspective of a traditional husband because that’s what I know, so here goes:
Wives, please help your men stay in touch with the lives of your mutual friends with similar challenges. Help him find a meaningful way to feel he’s not the “hi-bye” guy at church or any other social situation. Help him make his time there count.
Husbands, don’t hesitate to talk about the critical stuff and decisions that keep you awake at night with other men. The devil has all the tools of the modern age at his disposal, and we’d be the saddest impersonators of Job’s comforters if we believe we aren’t also in the sights of the enemy. Take every opportunity to sharpen and be sharpened, because your family won’t overcome the wolves if you don’t. Jesus warned us many times.
Everyone, create and support authentic forms of community. Change the work environment that encourages you to kick your co worker when they are down. Instead, we need places where kids can play, parents can talk and collaborate, and we can create ways to make life better for everyone. This is one of the reasons why Brandi and I are building the state’s first “We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym” here in Kenner, we want to facilitate a community where families with similar needs to ours can bring the islands a little closer. There are so many other needs in the greater New Orleans area, and no reason a community can’t grow around each one. And maybe, just maybe, one of these groups will figure out how to feed everyone with or without the robots…
John Boyd, dad of 3 amazing boys and husband to Brandi