Fathers in Faith: A Journey From Fatherless to Fatherhood
In honor of Father’s Day, I took time to conduct my own personal reflection of my role as a father and what the holiday has meant for me in the past. Unfortunately for me Father’s Day was never really a celebratory occasion. My father was an absent dad and I believe much of that was by choice, but his absence never really seemed to bother me until right around my sophomore year in high school. One day after football practice ended me and several of my teammates were walking back to the locker room to shower and I saw one of my teammates walk over to his father and they had a small conversation. As I looked the other way I saw another teammate talking with his father as well. Before I knew it majority of my teammates were engaging with their fathers as I walked on to the locker room. I was immediately overcome with feelings of hate, anger, rage, and resentment. And for the first time I felt a longing for my father.
For the next several years I began substituting the vacant spot for anyone who brought some kind of influence into my life, whether it was good, bad, beneficial, or detrimental, influence was influence and I wanted it! My older sisters’ boyfriends, guys from the neighborhood, classmates you name it. These became my father. I would take pieces of each individual that I encountered, and constructed a Frankenstein type representation of myself until I saw the next best thing. I was directionless due my fatherlessness. Surrounded by others who experienced the same cycle and became stuck in the monster building process, eventually I became hopeless. I saw the life that was meant to be for me, in those around me and I felt doomed. I thank God for the few positive influences that would seep into my life every now and then with words of encouragement and glimpses of promise, but they couldn’t compete with the plentiful consistencies of hopeless, directionless, and lost influences around me.
Fast forward, eight years later, I’m a father of three beautiful little angels. Before we had our first two I questioned my ability heavily as to whether I had what it takes to be a great father. Not to mention at this time I was still questioning whether or not I had what it takes to be a good husband (two years in). I felt completely inadequate for both roles, but God saw fit for me to be there and I trusted Him. Today I still wonder how I can be a great father without ever experiencing having a father. I quickly remind myself, “Be the Dad you always wanted!!” Over these past two and a half years that has been guidance along with the guidance provided in scriptures that parallels Gods fatherly qualities to that of our earthly fathers. But the most visually compelling proof is the relationships and development I see within my children. Here are some examples:
- Guidance/Direction- This just hit me a few days ago! Every time my girls ride with me they ask to listen this song by their uncle and I called “Automatic” (Link is provided). They have learned most of the words, whether they pronounce them right is a different story, but they LOVE the song. They say their prayers at night, and pray for any and every one that comes to mind. Seriously!! They love on each other, they say yes ma’am/sir, and no ma’am/sir, thank you and you’re welcome, excuse me! They are budding into great little women. The point I’m making is whether or not I believe I’m a great father the proofs is in the pudding. Provide the guidance and direction for them and they will go for it! Do they know what Automatic means? Of course not, but it’s they’re jam!! Fathers we set the tone for who our children will be, what they like, and what they entertain. I didn’t learn this from my earthly father, but this is concept is based on scriptural backing. Proverbs 6:22, “train up a child…” Psalms 23:3, “…leads us along the paths of righteousness for his name sake”. Principles that have guided me throughout this entire journey.
- Standard/Expectation- Along with providing guidance and direction I have set standards and expectations for them and given them standards and expectations from me. This falls back into drilling into them values such as loving each other, respecting elders, being polite, etc. Not to mention when I don’t uphold my end of the bargain (bedtime stories, playing the “I Do Love You” game before bed, or playing “Automatic” soon as we get into the car, I’m quickly notified of my errors.
- Safety/Security- I find this aspect to be the most beautiful and rewarding because for me it is a direct reflection of my faith and trust in my relationship with God. Quick story! I have twins who are very similar in some aspects, but two very different personalities one outgoing and daring the other slightly reserved and careful. Both with huge personalities. The oldest twin is very careful and less likely to try daring things. One day she was attempting to walk down the steps by herself and became overwhelmed with fear and cried out for me to help. I immediately reached out my hand and guided her down the steps. Not even ten minutes later she was back at the steps, but this time as I walked over to help her down the steps she told me “I got it”. I began to walk away and she said “no wait” all while still refusing to hold my hand. This was so symbolic to me because many times there were situations that I depended solely on God to help me through and once I made it through I knew I could make it through the next test just because of the thought of Him being present was enough for me. Psalms 139 huh?!?!
There are so many situations that I find myself in as a father that allow me to reference back to a time in my walk with Christ and I thank Him for it. To my earthly father I forgive you. Though you were absent I realize now that I never lacked in what I needed to be a great man, son, husband, and father, in fact, I found it all in Jesus. So for me it took faith to be the father that I wish I had, because in that faith I found the Father we all dream to have. Happy Father’s day to all my Fathers out there and happy Father’s day to my heavenly Father.