A Life-Defining Moment

randomlychad  —  August 21, 2012 — 12 Comments


Where do I begin in telling the story that culminated in Colorado this past weekend? There are so many scenes in a life, but which are the defining moments? The ones that tell the story of who we are?

For me, it was the wounding moments; such as:

(Though I don’t recall it) standing outside on beautiful northwestern Pennsylvania day, sun shining bright in the grey sky. It’s humid–as it always is so near to Lake Erie–but despite the stickiness, a father and son are outside playing catch. The boy has the flaming red hair of his father; indeed, there’s no mistaking that he’s his father’s son. The little boy is two, maybe three, his face screwed tightly in concentration. He wants to catch the ball.
He misses. Again.

The father, a young man maybe twenty-seven, or twenty-eight, needs his son to catch the ball. It is an ache within him. He had been an athlete, all his glories upon the field. All of that changed with an injury. He is blessed beyond measure just to be upright, walking, playing here with his son.

The boy again fails to catch the ball.

The father grows ever more frustrated, ever more impatient.

“What’s wrong with you,” he asks? “Catch the ball!” He throws it again; the boy almost… No, it slips through his grasp.

His little lip quivers. He wants to please his father, but can’t quite do it. Each time, it’s just outside of his grasp, just beyond his ability to do what is asked.

But he doesn’t give up.

The father retrieves the ball, throws it harder. Again, his little son fails. He was born prematurely, and maybe his coordination lags as a result? But the boy stays, lip quivering, tears beginning to leak from his eyes.

“What’s wrong with you? Stop crying! Or I’ll give you reason to cry. Catch the damn ball, Chad!”

His father throws the ball again, and again, harder and harder at Chad’s abdomen.

Despite his best efforts, Chad never does catch the damn ball that day. His father stalks off in frustration.

All the while, his mother watches from a window, doing nothing.


How does the boy become a man know this is true? Because, years later his mother told him. And it is consistent with with his experiences with his father.




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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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  • This is a deeply personal story and one in which I can relate. I can relate not to the scenario but with the boy wanting to please his father but nothing the boy can do will ever measure up to his expectations. The boy grows up needing affirmation, almost desiring it, but that affirmation is never received.

    Thank you, Chad.

    • Exactly, Thomas! The boy grows into a needy man. A man who turns to everything, and everyone, in a quest for the affirmation--the validation--he didn’t receive from his father. Am I a man? Do I have what it takes? Because the little boy, stoicly standing--taking the heat--eventually gives into resignation, loses his heart.

  • Chad, I can’t imagine. Obviously we all have baggage and issues galore, but this hurts to read as a dad myself.

    • Jim, it’s but one event in a lifetime of similar ones. I will have more to share in the coming days. My intention is to highlight these “watershed” moments, and culminate with how I found freedom from their message.

      Thanks for being my friend!

      • Thanks to you too! I’m glad you are sharing this, but I’m also sad for the hurt this must stir up.

        • Better to get it out there--because hurts held onto fester, and grow. Healing comes with release.

  • Chad, thanks for your bravery in sharing this painful memory with us. I imagine it’s a small piece of what has shaped you as a person. I hope you’re able to break the cycles of pain passed through your family and bring about hope in the relationships you build. I have no doubt that you’re already doing that.

    • You’re welcome, Adrian. Thanks for reading! Indeed it is but small part. There is much more to say. But the journey has a happy ending. 🙂

  • Ricky Anderson

    I can’t tell you how proud I am of you for choosing not to continue this cycle.

    • Thank-you, Ricky!

      No fair making me cry at work!

  • Whoa. That’s heavy stuff.

    My experiences with my dad over the years has defined me as well. I’m grateful to have a positive relationship with my dad, but as a dad now myself I understand the impact of life-defining moments like these.

    • And I am happy for you, KC, and indeed for everyone who has/had a strong relationship with their dads. Our culture largely denigrates the impact of fathers in childrens’ lives.

      The double whammy, if you will, comes when these shaming messages come from those closest to you, and are subsequently reinforced by other authority figures. Imagine a child having nowhere to go with that message, not having anyone to interpret, or counter, it.