Acceptance. I would assume that for most of us, acceptance is the one thing that we all want, but few of us have truly found. I believe social media thrives on our desire to be accepted. The next season of my life and installment of this blog series is characterized by this topic…
Shortly after my Dad’s death, my Stepdad (Mike) legally adopted us and we took his last name. I was now a Cook. Deep down I hated this lastname and even to this day would prefer to be a Day, but the cost of changing your last name is beyond what I can afford. I digress…
I can’t tell you exactly what my Step-Dad did for a living, but I do know that he was involved with the oversight of major construction projects. As a result of his career, we moved around a lot. For me this was not a problem because I loved traveling. I still do! Growing up I always wanted to explore the world like Christopher Columbus or Captain James Cook. Coincidence? I think not.
After many years of packing up, saying goodbye to friends and getting acquainted with new ones we landed in Houston, TX. My Mom had had enough and felt that it was time for some stability. Houston was to be the place we put down roots. All the while, my Stepdad would continue to travel and be away for months at-a-time.
I was in 3rd grade by now and my behavioral problems were at this point desperate cries for help. I skipped the first six weeks of my 4th grade year with a friend down the street just for fun. I acted out in class and was constantly in trouble with my teachers. So much so that my Mom was told by the school that she needed to put me on Ritalin. For those who don’t know, Ritalin was the Adderall of the 90’s. She in not so many kind words told the school where to they could put their Ritalin and parenting advice. My Mom knew why I was acting out, but did not know how to help me. My Stepdad was pretty much absent and would only handle discipline when he was at home.
From 5th grade to 6th grade it seemed that I was starting to turn a corner for no reason other than I became more concerned about girls and friends than I did about my emotional problems. However, my lack of athletic ability and struggles with my identity left me searching for acceptance. Unfortunately, junior high is the last place to find it. This lack of acceptance only fueled my inner pain and struggle.
Mid way through my 7th grade year my Mom dropped a bomb on me. My Mom and Stepdad were getting a divorce! My step-dad was a cold and emotionless man that rarely showed love. He could cut you off at the knees with a simple glare. He was very strict to say the least. This should have been good knews to me. Yet, this man was the only “Dad” I had ever really known.
Again, I found myself in a position of trying to understand something I could not even comprehend. I withdrew from my attempts to be accepted and found friends that were more like me, rebellious. If I couldn’t fit in then I would stick out like a sore thumb. I would rebel and act out as much as possible. After all, I seemed to know how to do that well. Of course this wasn’t a conscious thought, but still true none the less.
I rebelled against anything that represented authority. Subconsciously I made a decision to never let another man in to my life. I was done feeling this pain of rejection and loss. You can’t get hurt if you don’t get close to anyone! I kept everyone at arms length and never got to close to anyone. As a result, I slowly died on the inside.
So, what’s the moral of this story? I would have to say it ends with a message to Dad’s. If you’re a Dad, God has placed you in your child’s life, whether they are your biological kids or not, for a reason and a purpose. Your kids NEED you! They need you to help them navigate this life. They need you for security and approval. They need you to be there to encourage them when they feel lost and alone. Without you they are a ship without a sail.
If you are a Dad and you are struggling, join the club! No one ever said it would be easy, but the best Dad’s in the world didn’t have it easy, they endured and prevailed. They put their families and children over their own selfish ambitions and goals. They followed in the footsteps of Jesus, who though He was God did not consider it something to be grasped and laid His authority, His rights and His power down to be crucified on a shameful cross by the ones He came to love and save.
Your children and possibly even your wife may require you to lay down your rights as a man and your goals. Is this fair? No! However, it wasn’t fair for Jesus to suffer the shame and torture of the cross for your sins either. Yet, He did and you get to reap the reward. If you did the same, your family would reap the reward because they will know the love of the Father!
I don’t have all the answers, but I know the one who does. If you’re a struggling Father, please feel free to reach out to me. Maybe together we can overcome the trials of this life.