Inciting Incidents: Redefining Father

Immediately when I was asked about writing this post for Inciting Incidents, I knew without question what I would write about. I was asked to write about a moment good or bad that changed everything. The moment plays over and over again in my head. I have shared this part of my story with tens of thousands of teenagers all over the country. In case you don’t know the story of my childhood, here is the “Cliff Notes” version: My parents divorced when I was in 1st grade, and by the time I was 18, my Father was on his third marriage and my mother was ending her fourth.

It was the weekend of my 18th Birthday. Mom was out of town, so I threw myself a chill party with some friends and I was having one of the best weekends of my life. The poop really hit the fan when Mom returned from the airport holding my screaming, 6 month old baby brother. She was crying and her husband at the time stormed up the stairs. (This was the guy that wanted to have my little brother aborted but my Mom refused.)

The next 30 minutes were some of the craziest of my entire life. Mom unpacks the story that on their return flight home from seeing family, my baby brother Dalton would not stop crying, so David (her husband at the time and father to my little brother Dalton) picked him up and began to violently shake him. It was clear that it was over for them. As someone who wanted to protect my Mom and brother, I went to her husband and said, “Hey man, I think its best if you go stay with your parents or something tonight because Mom is just too upset.” The next thing I knew, he threw me to ground and I tumbled down the stairs after being pushed again. I went to my room and barricaded myself in because I honestly feared for my life. The “Jerry Springer Show” had just played out in my house.

As the chaos of the evening played out I found myself laying facedown on the floor weeping and crying out to God. Wondering where He was in all of this. This was one of the darkest moments of my life. I had never been attacked by someone and have not since. In that moment, I was reminded how all of the guys that came in an out of my life and held the title of father had failed me. My own Father did good to remember my Birthday, much less bother sending a card. I felt alone in that room.

Fast forward eighteen months later, I finally fully understood the story that that played out laying on the floor in my bedroom. I was in the middle of a sticky youth camp cafeteria that we had turned into our worship space for camp. I was the speaker and the band playing was Mercy Me (before anyone even knew who they were). The worship time was coming to an end and the band led us in the song “If I could just sit with you awhile” (Here is a link to Jami Smith leading the song). In that moment, I understood that regardless of how the four men in my life treated me, that I had a Father in heaven who desired to wrap his arms around my hurt and my pain. Those same arms that were nailed to the cross for my sin were wrapped around me and comforted me. I got it! There was a Daddy in Heaven that would never fail me. Pretty sure I just threw out my notes and we all just sat with Him for a while.

I have no idea what moment you are in the edge of. You may be coming out of or are in the middle of the most painful season of your life. Maybe your story is like mine. I’m here to remind you that regardless of how those in your past have failed you, that there is a Father in Heaven that will comfort you and to give you a future that is better than your past.

For me, the incident that changed everything was refusing the let the pain of the past destroy my future. There are still scars, some emotional and some physical, BUT there is hope in knowing that even though the guys that called themselves Dad in my life have failed me, there is a Father in Heaven with open arms and is there for me to climb in His lap. He was there in the pain. I just missed Him that fateful night,  I won’t make that mistake again…

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” NLT

This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of six creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can visit the “Share Your Story” section of IncitingIncidents.Org to check out posts from other synchroblog contributors, or visit the sites of the authors: Sarah CunninghamJeff GoinsDave HickmanBlaine HoganTracee PersikoStephanie SmithMandy Thompson and David Wenzel. In addition, you can hear more about the project in this NPR-style interview series by Moody Radio.

Also, if you pick up the book in the first two weeks, Moody will give you a bundle of free resources, including two full-length e-books. The book is available immediately at AmazonBarnes and Noble or Christian Book.

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