In my attempt to begin writing at least 3 blog posts a week, I have decided to start with the easiest subject to write about, my testimony. My purpose in writing these is not to glorify myself, but rather to show the hope that can be found in a lifetime of pain and struggle. My hope is that you might be able to come to know the grace of God and the love of Christ through my story. That being said, let’s get this journey started!
September 23rd of 1986, this date marks my oldest datable memory and by far the most vivid. Many people believe that there are two defining moments in a person’s life; when they are born and when they realize what they are born to do. For me, this date was my first defining moment. It was the day that my father, Barry Wayne Day, died.
I remember it like it was yesterday, I was four years old, living with my Mom (Nancy), Step-Dad (Mike) and older brother (Jeremy) in Gurnee, Illinois. Though the physical date often escapes me, the time of year never does. The memory is filled with the vivid yellows, reds and oranges that make Autumn in the north so beautiful. Jeremy and I were at the park behind our house doing what normal kids do at that age. I was sitting on a swing when I noticed my Mom and Step-Dad appear through the back gate that separated our backyard from the park. It was clear from the look on their faces that something was up.
As they were walking up, they asked my brother and I to come sit with them at the small wooden picnic table adjacent to the park. The seriousness of the moment was clear but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to be said. The moments to follow are not clear, but one can only imagine how a parent would fumble through explaining death to four year old and then trying as gracefully and sensitively as possible explain that Daddy is gone.
At this point, my Step-Dad had tears streaming down his face. This was a big deal to me because he was a very harsh and rough individual that rarely showed emotion. In fact, this was one of the only times I ever saw him cry. He didn’t even cry when he walked out on us.
Like most four year olds, my dad was my entire world. He was my super hero. He was invincible. He was always there to pick me up when I fell down. Yet I sat there on that park bench with my limited experience in life trying to comprehend the fact that my super hero had died and that (in my mind at least) I was now all alone in this world. This was the beginning of the end for me.
I had already become a pretty angry child prior to this moment in my life. The typical war that gets waged between spouses during a divorce had left me confused and angry. Unfortunately, for one reason or another that I can not confirm nor deny, I became very angry with my Mom and hated living with her. I wanted nothing to do with her and wished that I could live with my Dad. Naturally, my anger only grew when he died.
I blamed my Mom for his death and began acting out in my anger. To say that I had behavioral problems would be an understatement. Over the next several years of my life getting in trouble was an everyday thing for me. From stealing money from my parents to setting dumpsters on fire and nearly burning down our apartment complex. I even handcuffed myself to a tree. Testing the boundaries of my parents patience and resolve was like a 9 to 5 job for me. I didn’t understand why I was doing these things. Causing destruction and turmoil seemed to bring relief to the inner pain and suffering I felt inside.
There is not a day that goes by, that I don’t miss my Dad. Even more so over the last couple months. There is no relationship on Earth that can replace the bond of a father/son relationship. Believe me, I have searched and searched. I have had many spiritual fathers, none of which could ever replace nor fill the void.
The only thing that has brought comfort to this pain is God. The Bible says, “He is the Father to the fatherless” and I have always been able to go to God in the times that I would have gone to my Dad. Like the father of the prodigal son, God always welcomes me with open arms. He has never left me and never forsaken me. I can be angry with Him, I can cry in His arms and not feel one ounce of disapproval. He was my father when no one else would be and He wants to be that for you too.
Here is the flip side of it all, though my faith in God has helped me get through some tough times, it has not fully removed the pain. I wish I could say that God is enough and that all your sorrow and loss will simply fly away once you turn your life over to Him, but the truth is, it doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong, He absolutely wants to remove it, but grief and pain are things that require time to be released. Even as I write this, the pain of losing my Dad has not fully left me. I grieve his death regularly but God is always there to comfort me.
How has God been your Father when your earthly Father fell short? Feel free to comment your answer below.