Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fatherhood for the Clueless

Recently, at the Vineyard Men’s Retreat in Challis, I shared a little about my own dad. The guest speaker David Parker opened the mic on the final morning for testimonies and I jumped at the chance, because I felt a burden to share about my broken relationship with my dad. I believe there are plenty of men who, for one reason or another, are disconnected from their fathers, and I wanted to encourage other guys like me who have daddy issues.

As I said that morning from the stage, I’ve been trying my whole life to get my dad to engage, to show interest in my life, to be involved in what I do and in who I am. Sadly, he has never done that; not once. The only times we’ve been even semi-close or involved with each other have been when either I or my mom took the initiative or reached out. Ever since the divorce, he’s been passive, disengaged; he’s deferred to others—especially my step-mother. I realized the most painful part of it all only a few years ago—that in the process of destroying our family when I was two years old, he literally traded us in for something he wanted more. That’s been borne out by a great many bits of evidence, from how he does engage with my step-relatives to the fact that I haven’t received a phone call, email, letter, or even a card from him in the 5+ years since I decided to see how long it might take for him to notice me.

I share this not to bitch and moan. I share it only to illustrate that these patterns do not have to continue in my life, and especially not in the lives of my own two boys. I’ve made attempts to reconcile, don’t get me wrong. But at this point, it’s clear he just doesn’t want to be a dad or a grandfather to me or my brother and our families. I have moved past that. Now I focus on my own boys. So does my brother, with his own. We’ve had a great many conversations about this. One thing we decided upon was that it was a net good for us simply to be present in the lives of our boys. Sure, we mess up as dads from time to time. But we’re here. That’s the bare minimum, and we’re accomplishing that with gusto. I personally, and I know I can speak for my brother on this point as well, want more for me and my boys than just to be present.

I want to involve them in my life, and I want to be involved in theirs. Just last night, I was walking and praying and asking God to show me what to pray for in their lives for this next year or so. He showed me. He gave me specific things to pray for. I’m not going to share specifics here, because it’s none of your damn business, frankly, especially if you’re not family. But suffice it to say that what God led me to pray for in my boys is exactly what they need for this upcoming season of life, and it’s all blessing. I can’t wait to get started.

And if you’re like me, if you had to struggle through boyhood and manhood for years without much of an example, take heart. God uses that hunger to produce amazing and miraculous deeds of warrior fathering and genuine masculinity, not only in your life, but in the lives of your kiddos. Trust me, I know. My life is proof that God loves to use what everyone else thinks is useless and wasted and broken, and through grace, make it something magnificent. That’s what a man’s heart for his boys is. Magnificent.