The bible had been in a damp, dirty shed for many, many, years and its condition was as bad as the place it had been stored in.
My mom handed it to me as if I would want it for some reason…I didn’t even want to touch it.
“I have some dry ones”, I said sarcastically.
“It has an inscription in it”, she replied.
The name embossed in gold took me aback for a moment…it was a name that used to be mine.
It was mine through the second grade, in the third grade it was taken away and I had to learn to spell and write the odd new name I had been given.
One name belonged to a man who would never see me again, the other to one who would wish he never had.
Hard stuff for an eight year old boy…
If you can’t be who you used to be and you don’t know who you are now, life is full of internal confusion and conflict.
You want to tell everyone that you are somebody, but you don’t know who that somebody is.
You spend the rest of your life trying to figure it out.
I opened up the book to the pages where you inscribe the date, and to who it was given, and from who the gift came.
Date: Christmas 1966
It was his mothers handwriting.
It was a lie written in beautiful cursive, perhaps with the best intentions, but a lie nonetheless.
I was no longer that person, I had no “Daddy”, and I hated those lies and the book they were written in.
I closed the tattered book on my lap, but I’ve never been able to close the book on that part of my life.
I will buy Trey a bible for Christmas.
I will stamp the only name he will ever have on its cover and I will sign it from “Daddy” with my own hand and through my own tears.
He will always know who he is and who I am and he will know that he’s loved.
That’s the only way I can close the tattered book on my lap forever… and I’ve still got some dry ones of my own.
Make your own application...
It’s gutsy to reveal hurtful and tender episodes such as this…yet it gives others a template to examine their own painful chapters and apply the grace which heals themselves, then, in turn, another. Thanks for the glimpse into your past and present.
This one gutted me…
Yes… my good friend told his story of his violent and shaming father and the crippling effect of it upon him 50 years later…. “damn him!” … “No” said my friend… made me the father I became… made me…(Kind I thought… he would not say it) We both knew.
It is God’s way of redeeming all three of us…my father, my son, and me.
The nature of redemption is that it has a cost…
When I became a “born again” Christian the first Christmas after that date my mother bought me a Ryrie Study Bible. I ate that that bible up, read through it so many times. It was the King James Version. Of course at bible study I got why the KJV was not the correct version and I should yada yada to the new version. I held on to this because my mother gave it to me, even though she loathed my involvement in this group but being, well a mother, she wanted me to be happy. No real doctrinal issues but it struck me. My father hated my religion well he and many others were part of the liberation of a concentration camp during ww 2, so I hope he gets a pass. I dont think my father hated my faith just my self righteous arrogance when I did not walk the same road he did. It was none of the primary reasons I went back to my family and worked very hard to rebuild my relationship with my father even though he could be very harsh and “abusive”. He was / is worth it eventually we reconciled and yes it was worth it. I hope that makes some sense.
I was some punk kid who was often a jackass my dad tried the very best to make me a “man” he may have used methods that are not perfect but for goodness sakes he walked on ground I never could have. I just wanted to reconcile with this man that saved my life, gave me life and who did the very best he could. Was I wrong? I dont want to be a perpetual victim I wanted to find healing, I did as I think he did. I am glad we made up. He was worth it.
I think God for my upbringing. I have scars and a broken nose from the temper my dad gave me.
But I also found brokenness–and an intense fight for justice for others. One that has changed many others for good, and I’m grateful for it. The making of a man of God isn’t pretty.
I personally am glad for the end Product, in me……and in you– a passionate Phoenix Preacher.
And this really helped me with my stepdad: http://youtu.be/X8dPa2S4vL0
Wow. Great stuff.
I have failed at teaching you the difference between “it’s” and “its”.
But awesome nonetheless.
“Stop looking at me like that!” my dad screamed. His intense stare scared the living crap out of me. Goosebumps of icy pins shot all through me. What had I done? What was my look? All I knew at that moment was that I must have done something really bad. I struggled to think of what was going on. What was my look? What had I done? I was too stupid to think beyond that. Then it came. My dad slapped me so hard I flew backward across my bedroom. The physical pain was nothing compared to the rejection..
Somewhere a switch was flipped that day. Without knowing it I had turned off part of me.
The next day after school I saw some friends sitting on the lawn across the street. There was my best friend and the girl I had a crush on. “What happened?” They had heard my dad yelling. They had heard the slap. They knew it was me. Part of me died that day.
I try to stay away from this blog. It mostly brings me pain. It’s a reminder that I am stupid. Why can’t I just walk away? All you people do is argue. I’m used to that. I grew up in an argument. You’re so smart with all your books and your boxes of doctrines. You’re so smug. Get over yourselves. I wish I could.
Sounds like healing in progress, stu. Good for you.
Thank you for that!
we all have a hard enough time acknowledging and accepting our own ‘context’ that understanding someone elses is nigh impossible. I’d get over myself if I could.
I accepted Jesus in my heart as a young boy, maybe 8 or 9. My parents had just split and would soon divorce. I remember the church building but not the room where an elderly lady and my mom spoke to me of Jesus and God the Father. How even though my dad had left, I would always have a Father. i prayed the prayer with her and she gave me a life verse: John 1:12. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
Regardless of what happened between my mom and dad, she assured me I would always be a son and have a father I could turn to.
Hearing that at such a young age is one thing, believing and living it out are another.
I would be around my dad and have weekends all my life, but he wasn’t an influence the way a father should be.
God the Father showed me how to be a father to my son and without that, my son would have easily walked many of the dark paths I did as an angry young man and adult.
Today, my 77 year old father lives with me and my family and now I am the father figure. That is sometimes tough to get my head around.
Thanks for sharing Michael, father wounds are incredibly painful, but a redeeming God soothes that pain when we look at our sons and say, “Thank you Lord for my son.”
Thank you, Bart!
You said it well…
“He will always know who he is and who I am and he will know that he’s loved.”
Love this. I know it is written through much pain and heartache, but it is rich in tenderness and knowledge of compassion that Trey will reap.
Jesus help me with what I write on my kid’s hearts and in the Bible they read through me.
From Dad to Dad, thanks for sharing this.
Thank you, Rob, Sarah.
I hope someone reads this who still has time to be the Daddy they need to be…
Wow, Michael. That is powerful stuff.
I never doubted the love my father had for me. My kid, on the other hand, will forever doubt the love of her father; that’s a job he did not want to do.
You keep on doing just what you are doing. It’s more awesome than you know.
Thank you…and welcome if you are new here.
Michael, lscott505 is me. Dang WordPress…
Laura…you’re not new here. 🙂
Thank you, anyway!
I grew up with an alcoholic father who terrified me. After he threw me out I hated him. When I signed for credit I wrote that he was dead.
I thought we may have reconciled when he allowed me to move back in to save money for marriage. Within a few weeks he threw me out again. The hate grew.
Yet one day while I was driving I saw him building a block wall and something stirred in me. But for some reason I saw him in a compassionate way.
For me the story ended well as he got sober and then saved and we mended fences.
The reality is those scars from my youth still remain even though I forgave him. As a father myself that’s a sobering thought. It made me want to be a better father for my children.
You’re that daddy we long to be Michael. You’ve done well in the most important job you’ll ever have. The kind of job that yields eternal rewards.
By God’s grace may our lives speak life into our children and grandchildren.
Every man has the incredible opportunity to create a new branch on his family tree. A brand new tribe with as much or as little (as he determines) to do with the rest of the tree. I was married for three years before God saved me, but even then I knew this. I would tell my wife, “we are not them. The Papp****’ are you, me, and our children. You are no longer a Thro*****.”
God saved me when I had been married for three years and had a two year old girl. A year later we had another girl, followed by a son 18 months after that. Until my kids became teens, I had to hear from both clueless trees how I was ruining my children. At a very young age (married at 20) I had to learn to act like a man and be strong (1 Cor 16:).
The “family” critics were silenced when they observed my three teens, who appeared to be aliens at “family” functions.
My son is 28, married, and will not have children. My 30 y/o daughter is single, and my 33 y/o daughter is married with three children. She is no longer a Papp****, and she and her husband are their own Godly branch/tribe, who see things as we do, which allows us access to our grandkids in a much different way than our kids experienced.
And so it goes. I have every reason to be angry at my “parents” and inlaws, but life is too short to let my past encumber my present/future. The stakes are too high.
This is not addressed to Michael or anyone here, but my message to men is that you don’t have to be your father’s son. Be the you that God created.
(Family names have been redacted for google)
I wrote the above quick and dirty, after read the unfinished 7 paragraph surprisingly well written piece I began yesterday. It was basically my own little horror story about my upbringing. I read it today, and thought, “NO. This is not my story and this does not define me”. It’s seriously one of the best things I’ve ever written, and it’s been joyfully deleted.
My wife and I bought our step-son a new bible for Christmas.
Proud…he actually told us that is what he wanted!
That was really good…
Once again, vignettes like this one open a portal. For some it’s to understand the “other” half of humanity. For some it’s to open an old would to freshly squeeze out some old puss. It’s a reality, it simply has to be done as unpleasant as it may be. But Michael is right, Stu, it’s the road to healing.
I had two parents who didn’t like to talk. All the education and money didn’t help them with relational skills. Who knows what happened to them that made them see kids as people who raise themselves? I tried and experiment once and left for three days, sleeping in the woods; they never noticed I was gone. I slowly slid into a deadened state, never shedding a tear for many years, all the while performing well outwardly.
Then God invaded me! It was truly spectacular! To wake up a dead person in a nano second shakes loose everything! PRAISE GOD! …… selah.
I was finally old enough and awake enough to look at my family from the outside. Suddenly, I didn’t know who I was, just that I didn’t want to be like them. I started rebuilding since I didn’t have a mold anymore. What a gift that has been! Now, 30+ years later, my life has meaning … my kids have two parents paying attention to them and they know they are loved. As for my parents and siblings, their lives have been on a destructive course for decades. Sometimes the freedom to reinvent one’s self is like winning the “get out of jail free” card.
Thank you…another good word there.
It’s not nice to make me cry while I’m waiting for my daughter to appear on stage. I love you, Michael .
Love you too, my friend.
The way my father and step mother choose to behave toward me is literally shortening the days of my life. I care not, any longer, if that fact is their fault, my fault, or some kind of combination between the two. I rest in the justice of God in these matters. It is a slave for a perpetually opened and terminal wound. My days here are drawing to an end. Remember me, Lord.
Salve. Not slave.
My first father, my biological, was an alcoholic who was never home. He would go on 13 month cruises in the Navy and then suddenly show up drunk. He never let me talk and would flick me hard on the head if I ever did. He was gone by the time I was 7. I may have actually seen him for a months worth of days if even that. My second father did not like me at all, he was only around for less then a year, needed a temporary family for tax purposes.
I never had to change my name. But I know about your struggles to construct yourself into somebody Michael. I raised my son the way you are raising your son, with much love.
Those of us who grew up alone, without a male modeling what it is to be a man or a dad, seem much more capable and much more flexible when the storms of life hit. We don’t break easy because we have faced a lot and have come through it all.
But your story got to me…
I think you have done a great job in figuring out what it is to be a man and a dad. And above all what it means to be a Christian man in this day and age. And a great example of how to treat others who come in wounded, confused, damaged and troubled.
my dad was a kind, humorous, godly man who grew up during the Depression and served his country in WWII. He was a father to six kids and raised them responsibly, sacrificially, and selflessly. He rose early each day, prepared and packed his lunch box, and headed out the door to work laying brick, block, or stone whether it would be 25 or 100 degrees outside that day. I don’t think he ever missed a day’s work due to illness and he spent his vacations for years building a mission outpost in a third world country. I never saw him take a sip of alcohol, He was a man of few words, but led by example. He endured the struggle of raising a boy stricken with polio, my brother, and remained married to my mom for fifty-four years. In the big picture, he was a great dad in so many ways. Yet, as many of you have pointed out, it is still our choice and responsibility to take up the mantle of parenthood in our time, for our kids, and perform consistently, compassionately, and admirably. Many of us have not had a good example while others like me have benefitted from a godly father. Example only takes one so far. Having a good one doesn’t guarantee success nor a bad one preclude failure.
In post #8 I said “All you people do is argue. I’m used to that. I grew up in an argument. You’re so smart with all your books and your boxes of doctrines. You’re so smug. Get over yourselves. I wish I could.”
After rereading my post above I have to apologize to most of you. Most of you are level-headed and caring. I shouldn’t have said that. Sorry.
Stu, we all say things we wish we would not have said. God bless you for your humility.
Stu it is great that you are human. None of us here are perfect nor do we pretend to be perfect.
And your right.