“Some people don’t believe in Superheros, but they never met my dad.”
In writing some thoughts about a father, or not having a father, I feel as though I’m writing about a superhero. For me, a father was nothing more than a character in a fairy tale. Unlike Superheros in comic books, I know fathers actually exist. I have seen them on television and sliding their arms around their wives in grocery stores, and I have seen them in the malls and in the coffee shops, but these were characters in other people’s stories, not mine.
My father was a good man, but a bad father. My father was absent for as much of my life that I can remember. His body was present but I never received his attention, praise, or affection. My father wasn’t abusive, he wasn’t even mean he was actually a very pleasant and charming man, he was just bad at family! He was so introverted that he disconnected himself from everything enjoying things that he could do in solitude like fishing and hunting. The average day in my early childhood involved my dad coming home and sitting in his chair or him retreated to his backroom only to come out for dinner and to go to bed.
This eventually lead to my parents’ broken marriage that ended in divorce and the time I spent with my dad continued to dwindle through the years. He never came to the events that mattered to me. I remember I use to see fathers playing catch with their sons in the front yard and it would bring me to tears as that is what I yearned for. I also made a promise to not follow the footsteps of my own father and to be the father that I always wanted. I want to be a Superhero to my children. I believe that God allowed me this experience with my own father to gain a heart of compassion for other fatherless children!
In Guatemala, where my family will be serving, the fatherless are many and the ones that do have adult male influences in their life are not positive ones. Personally I believe this is the main contributor to the poverty, alcohol use, physical abuse, and the continually repeated cycle of fatherless children. During my third trip to Hope For Guatemala I had the opportunity to give my testimony to a group of the teenagers and this experience is when God spoke to me through my own story, forever changing how I look at the fatherless.
The night before I gave my testimony, I was preparing what I was going to say. I planned to relate to the children on the connection of having a father that was not there for me. The next morning I was awoke to an almost audible message from God, a simple but powerful message of Romans 8 was circling in my head. I grabbed my Bible and headed to a private area and opened to read. It was here my mindset changed as I read Romans 8:15:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’
It hit me hard that God did not want me to find common ground with these kids through our lost earthly fathers. He wanted me to find common ground with these kids through having the same father, a perfect father in Heaven. When I told my story through this mindset I found myself growing closer to my perfect father and in turn it gave me a greater passion to show others without a father that they in fact have an amazing, perfect father.
It was during this trip that I got to pray for a woman during a home visit who was struggling to leave her abusive husband. When she found out who I was her face lit up and she said her daughter looked up to me like a father. These were powerful words that brought me to tears, know that all the kids served by the ministry want is to be loved. Through God putting his spirit in me to love these kids, this little girl saw me like a dad!
Last week on my visit to Hope For Guatemala, I was reminded of God’s truth again. When thinking through what this blog post was going to be about, I was drawing blanks. But it hit me as I looked back through some photos from the week. I had the opportunity to go on this trip with some amazing fathers to their own children, but when I looked at some of the images that I captured I saw something. It was in the way that these kids looked at these amazing men of God, they had a look of love, a look of admiration, they looked onto these men as if they were looking at Superheros!
I am truly blessed to have served with this amazing group of Superheros. Through God’s love we were able to love these kids as they were our own. I personally was refreshed to know and to be affirmed that one of my purposes as my family steps into the mission field is to not only be a father figure to these kids, but also point them in the direction of the father that we all have and share and show them his perfect love. In doing this, God will produce fruits that will change generations and break cycles of fatherlessness in Guatemala.