Lessons From My Father/I Need Your Help

randomlychad  —  June 17, 2012 — 14 Comments

So. It’s “Father’s Day.”

At least here in the U.S. of A. anyway.

I would like to write for you a deeply sentimental post about what my dad means to me, but I’m prevented by honesty. Anne Lamott said it well when she said “If people wanted you to write warmly of them, they should have behaved better.”

They should have…

He should have…

You see where I’m going with this. (I’m sorry for telegraphing, but I have something to say, and won’t let myself sleep until it’s written).

My dad was a man who:

When trying to play catch with me as a youngster, threw the ball at me harder and harder, and then derided me for my poor catching skills.

Walked away from me in frustration when, in his estimation, I didn’t learn how to bat quickly enough via the Johnny Bench Batter Up he’d installed in our back yard.

I could go on. Suffice it to say that he was a man who left me, and our family, just as I was entering my teen years. When I needed him most, needed help navigating questions of identity, the changes of puberty, he took a breeze.

True, or not, intended, or not–the message came through loud and clear: you don’t have what it takes, you’re no good to me.

I believed those bullshit lies for most of my life, and subsequently tried to appease him, earn his approval. To the detriment of myself, my wife, and family. But it never came. Like Kimbra sings to Gotye in Somebody That I Used To Know:

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say…

When I sought merely his acceptance, I didn’t get it. All I wanted was his love, but he didn’t get me. I don’t hate him, but I’m no longer a little boy hanging on his every word. “The cat’s in the cradle, and the silver spoon…”

I’ve moved on, and my dad is just somebody that I used to know.

My Heavenly Father loves me, and sent His Son to die for me.

But that’s not the end of the story. No, I seem to suffer with some of the same inadequacies when it comes to relating to my own now teenaged son. It’s harder than it should be. this goes back generationally:

My dad didn’t equip me, wasn’t equipped by his dad, who in turn wasn’t equipped by his own father (my great grandfather). Divorce is a curse that has plagued my family for decades. Whether there was good reason for it, or not, we have nothing but men who don’t know the first thing about being just that: men.

Which is why I was overjoyed recently to learn that I’d been accepted in the lottery to attend a Wild At Heart boot camp in Colorado this August. If John Eldredge, and his ministry, Ransomed Heart, know how to do anything it’s to equip men. Here’s the rub: it costs $475 to attend.

To some of you, this may seem like a lot of money; to others, not. In any case, Lisa (my wife) and I prayed about, and subsequently decided, to forgo a second income. So she could be home with the kids, provide discipline and stability. All of which is to say that there isn’t $475 in the budget for me to go to the retreat.

Which is why I am appealing to you, my readers. I hate asking in this way, but if each of you have a few dollars to spare I’m sure we can reach the goal.

The catch is that Ransomed Heart wants payment by Friday, June 22nd. Thus, we need to reach the $475 mark by this Thursday, the 21st.

I wouldn’t appeal to you in this way at all if I didn’t feel so strongly that it was something I needed to do.

Thank-you very much for your prayerful consideration!

You can PayPal me at gandalf239 [at] gmail [dot] com

If we don’t meet the goal all donations will be refunded.




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Praying, and regretting that I cannot help more. Know that God always provides when there is need.

    • Thank-you, Jason! I appreciate your prayer support. Means the world. Longfellow said “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

      Where God guides, He provides.

  • I really feel for you in this -- my husband had a pretty distant dad when it came to understanding their differences and it shows with how he relates to our oldest son. He can’t relate and it is really difficult for him to have empathy…I don’t think it comes easy for men. The fact that you know and you try says a lot about you as a parent and a man. Good luck.

    • Thank-you, Sonja!

      Yeah, I think it is harder in general for men. And truly I’m more aware some times than others. I really have to attribute that to my to the Lord, and my wonderful wife.

      I want it to be better for my son.

  • Hoo, boy, Chad. I’m there, too. My “Pop” did the same kinds of things to me, but it wasn’t dealing with sports. Sports were a “waste of time” to him. In fact, any expenditure of energy that didn’t involve getting something done was a waste of time. Even rest or vacations were a waste; there was too much that had to be done.

    I had a condition that was diagnosed as “croup,” “cold-weather asthma,” and several other things. What it meant was that, prior to the age of 8, I would wind up in the hospital or under a “steam tent” when the temperature dropped below 60 degrees. Obviously that was a significant portion of the time in Maryland. As a result, though, I never measured up to his standard of stinking of sweat even in the dead of winter.

    He never told me that, of course. One wasn’t “supposed to” do that. He would act pleasantly around others, then bad-mouth them behind their back. Why should I think he didn’t do the same to me?

    Anyhow, this is a long story, and I’m sure even the new Disqus doesn’t allow enough room for all the details. My father died in 1993. His emotional abuse still haunts me. I was able to forgive him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, but I still deal with “flashbacks” to the pre-forgiveness state of mind/heart/soul/attitude/whatever. I chose not to have kids. I’m afraid to be around kids, let alone be responsible for raising one! When my pastor at the time “mentioned” that it was a command from God that a married couple raise children, if not their own then by adoption (which would’ve been our only choice), I had a crisis of eternal security vs. “willful disobedience.” (The link is to my blog post dealing with that issue.)

    I can tell I need to do a blog post or 3 on this subject, including the dream-vision that allowed me to forgive my late father deep down and the ongoing struggle with the issues that are still present from his mistreatment.

    • Joe, i’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to reply. When I first read your comment, I was stunned to silence by your vulnerability in sharing here.
      Thank-you for both your honesty, and courage, in not only coming to grips with your with your own unforgiveness, but for letting the Lord in to do that work in your heart.

      I’m encouraged by your example, and as I’m sure my readers are as well.
      How about a guest post sometime here?

      • Wow. My first guest post request. Sure, although I’d appreciate a “prompt” on what to write.

        I know! I could post a lengthened version of the story I mentioned, about how I forgave my father. I’d have to add some of the dirty details I just mentioned, or link to them here.