When I think of fatherhood, there is a chasm where memories of cookouts, fishing trips, family vacations, and camaraderie should dwell. There is pain. Pain engulfed me like a lake of fire. Along my childhood road were denial, rejection, accusation, fear, contempt and often deceit where love should have been. I was child who didn’t know how to love my father and that left me with a tremendous hole in my heart. Every child wants their father’s love to fill some inadequacy inside them.
There were years where what I was responsible for was unclear, painfully unclear. The roles in relationship to my pain were vague, shadowy, suspect. There was not enough awareness about what traumas harmed which person, to what extent, and for how long. Some of the pain was brought on by circumstance. But beauty still took shape… because “even a child is known by his or her own “doings”. (Proverbs 20:11)
Every father is different. Some fathers love with gifts. Some fathers love with words. Some fathers love in their ability to work hard for their kids. But every father loves in a different and unique way. No father is the SAME.
I want to tell children that if you’ve got a father who makes himself known enough (Cooking for you, encouraging you, showing up when you succeed, praying for you when you struggle) CALL HIM and genuinely say that you love HIM and thank God for HIM.
Black men, depending on what they endured before they become fathers, do not come in the world understanding how to love the self. And this failure to love self better is shouldered by the children of these troubled black beginnings.
All black fathers have is what their fathers taught them… and sometimes this (no matter how gentle or mighty or beautiful it is) fails to show a black man what a living, loving father can or should be.
Because of my father’s imperfections, I built my image and reason for fatherhood out of a god of my making because children over-compensate for what their parents—their fathers cannot give them.
BUT the black man that has a living son, daughter, or group of children should STILL LOVE what he has got.
AGAIN … If your father is black or (African-American) and he’s alive, CHILD! Love HIM with all you’ve got. Tell him how important he is before time steals the moment away.
Because I had an overabundance of strong-willed, self-motivated women in my life, I had to re-discover how terribly important it is to have a consistent fatherly presence in your life that truly is PRESENT with you. We only learn and grow as children when we have fathers that are willing to be THERE with us.
BEING THERE takes two people willing to sit and talk to each other and be heard together.
When women have been hurt by the selfish father who believes his choices have no weight on his family, women transfer their pain, anxiety, and brokenness onto their children.
And when the children grow, they become adults that CARRY great enmity (HATE) for their fathers. Fathers then are branded as “GOOD for nothing” with no chance of redemption. This is a cycle that keeps HAPPENING over and over again. The pain women face against selfish black men is real… and black children feel it early and it takes a lifetime to forgive it, forget it, and move past it. In many cases, the pain becomes anger and the anger hardens into HATRED. But I write this telling you that it DOES NOT have to stay that way. You can love your dad. But you need God to do it. You’ve got to re-write the story and you need help.
I love my living father. But I had to forgive him first. I had to forgive myself for not understanding things that were beyond what a child understands.
I’m still forgiving my father. I’m still doing my best to honor him. HONORING him is not always easy. Love can be painful. And if love isn’t painful… you aren’t doing it right.
A commandment I hear all the time is: Honor your father. We don’t come into the world knowing how that honor should look.
When you’re a child, you bond with the first parent that gets you the best. I was that child and my father was not the one who understood me best. But my father still deserves (respect, pride, and honesty), this is HONOR.
The pain of a mother who gets railroaded by a spiritually troubled father is not an excuse to continue hating that father. CHILDREN, love and forgive your parents… because you actually need God’s forgiveness… more than you need TO be correct about what you know about the story.
Love and mercy is always more important rules and measures. This is what children need to know. I learn this lesson everyday when I think about missing my (father in the Lord) my grand-dad. He died years ago struggling to get me to love myself, my dad and other people.
He told me I needed gentleness to make it. Gentleness is hard in a society telling you that men need to be rough, rugged, and hard to be strong and resilient.
In the same chapter of Proverbs 20, I found this passage. It’s kind of relevant to the time we face right now.
If someone curses their father or mother,
their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. (PROVERBS 20:20)
It is not your job kids… to avenge save or correct your father’s faults. YOU alone cannot save your parent. You must concentrate on healing yourself first. And if you’re honest and humble, God might heal you.
I have HOPE as a helmet because I work diligently to forgive my father’s past. I love you, DAD. Black man… black woman… black child… love and forgive your parents.
Black fathers (and mothers) need us all the more now…. With all the hatred and racism that persists in the world. Parents need their children to be examples. Dads need their sons to show compassion and forgiveness because that is way better than fighting to be “right.” Do not let your light be permanently darkened by continuing to curse the dad you’ve got. Ask God to help you be a light in that dark room. Love your father on Earth, the way God already loves you.