40 Years in America

Parents and Children

David Balise

Families at the Il Shim Graduation Ceremony, New Jersey

In the 70s Father told us that God had three headaches: atheistic communism, the fragmentation and decline of Christianity, and family breakdown. Of these, communism was the worst. To most people at that time it appeared that the triumph of communism was inevitable. Our movement stood almost alone, insisting that communism had reached its peak and would soon be defeated by "Godism."

To confront and overcome communism and its allies in an increasingly secular world, we developed a desperate sense of urgency. Our church family mobilized for the fight, and adopted a vertical, hierarchical structure that was like a military organization in many ways. We felt that we were in a war, and that if we lost the consequences would be catastrophic. For me and many others, this involved long hours of fundraising and even after our marriage, separation from my wife and young children for long periods of time.

Our efforts to help remove Godís headache of communism came to dramatic success in the late 80s and early 90s. The "cold war" was won! The world was transformed within a few years, in ways that almost no one but Father had believed possible.

Our movement began to decentralize and demobilize after that. In this more relaxed, depressurized atmosphere issues, and problems that had been hidden before began to emerge. We struggled to find ways to financially support our growing families. Suppressed disagreements cried out for attention. Feelings about the shortcomings of leadership, which had been forgiven when there were more pressing issues to attend to, now came to the surface. For some, unresolved issues of faith and belief appeared.

After years of stressful living on the "front line," most of us had at least some degree of battle fatigue. For some, this victory was enough. Godís other two headaches didnít seem so urgent or threatening. So they returned to "civilian life," remaining friendly towards the movement but no longer involved in its daily activities. Others left the movement altogether, sometimes with bitter feelings.

However, there remained much to be done. Communism was gone, but the Kingdom of Heaven was still nowhere in sight. In many ways, the external struggle with communism was easier than the more internal ones that remained! The new central issue was Godís original headache: establishing true love in the family.

To succeed in this more internal struggle, our movement needed to transform itself, from a semi-military hierarchy, back into the family-centered and embracing culture that everyone had joined. Although this is what almost everyone wanted, it has not been so easy to do. Father and Mother have been initiating and leading this transition in many ways. They started Womenís Federation for World Peace, emphasizing that womenís nurturing and embracing heart is key to the changes that need to take place in the world. This was followed by the Family Federation for World Peace, which is intended to replace the church as our movementís primary organization. The workshops at Jardim and many other initiatives all seek to encourage a family culture. And the central activity of our movement has become giving the Blessing, to all people.

Perhaps the ultimate decentralization came in September 1999 when Father asked us to begin praying in our own names. In this age of the Fourth Adam we are all to be in the position of Godís original sons and daughters. We are all to be True Parents.

Yet there is still a "campaign" atmosphere to a lot of this, particularly the large Blessings. Our new organizations donít yet have the depth, wisdom and maturity they need to be fully effective. The form is there, but the substance is still lacking. I believe the central issue we face is the restoration of the relationship between parents and their adolescent or young-adult children. Indeed, this is the heartistic situation that God has been wrestling with ever since the Garden of Eden.

In our movement we see this being worked out on the worldwide level, with the relationship between America, Korea and Japan being considered the restoration of the relationship between the "elder son" and the parents.

On a more personal level, large numbers of our children are now entering their teen and young-adult years, and are beginning to seek their own identities. They are questioning the values and beliefs they have been raised with, as everyone must do in the transition to adulthood. How can loving parents best help their young adult children to find their own way? We need to let go of them and let them make their own choices, while at the same time giving them unconditional love and support. Itís easy to say, but not always easy to do. And if our children make what we consider a mistake, then what do we do?

This was Godís dilemma at the fall, and it is still being resolved. Most human parents have struggled with this in one way or another. Fatherís own family is facing this issue directly, in very painful ways. It has been one of my great blessings to be a teacher at our Sunday School. It is truly awesome to see hundreds of Blessed children growing and maturing. They have so much potential! However, they also face many difficulties and questions, and it is sometimes frustrating to not be able to better help them.

We need to let go of the need to always be in control; we must stay open and vulnerable. As a parent, I am learning to appreciate what my children teach me every day. What they are giving me is at least as valuable as what I am giving to them.

The most eternal aspect of our relationships is that we are all Godís children. God is in each person; when we are with another person, we are with another part of God. Ultimately we experience love most deeply when we connect with each other as equals, with no barriers between us.

One of the most painful aspects of the restoration providence is that Father wasnít able to spend more time with his own children. We can only imagine how things might be different if Father had been able to personally take care of his own family.

As painful as this must be for Father and his children, it is also a great loss for humanity. How much more smoothly would restoration go if we all had a living, breathing example of what a true family can be? Instead, we see the situation where no one wants to experience what Fatherís family experienced.

Why did this happen? Did Father have other choices? Was it because of our failures? Is it a process of heartistic restoration, in which we experience Godís pain as our own? Or are there more subtle reasons?

I donít know the answers to these questions, but in my heart I feel that real restoration is taking place. If mistakes are made there are always consequences, but as long as we learn from our mistakes they have value. No sincere effort is ever wasted. We are all growing. I believe that even God is growing. We are all in this together. We need to support and encourage each other. Our movement has come a long way. There is still more to be done. Letís each continue to do our best each day to create the tangible, physical Family of God on Earth!

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