The first words the caller said after I picked up the phone were, “I wanted to kill him!”
“Kill who?” I stammered.
“Kill my father”, he said emphatically.
Before I tell you what happened next, let me tell you his answer when I asked the question as to why he felt like killing his father.
Andrew (not his real name) was the son of a travelling showman. ‘Showies’ travel around the country conducting amusement rides and a variety of competitions commonly known as ‘side show alley’ in the Australian vernacular. Such a travelling lifestyle often takes it’s toll.
Andrew’s father treated him terribly. He was beaten from pillar to post. One time his father’s current partner was so concerned that he might be killed, or suffer permanent injury that she rang up the Department of Child Services. Andrew was put into a foster home from the ages of 10 to 12. Things got worse because he was sexually abused by his foster mother’s older daughters and other things besides.
Andrew was finally adopted into a stable home at the age of 12 but the memories of rejection from his father still haunted him. Not only the betrayal he suffered directly from his father but all the sexual depravity and abuse he had to deal with growing up.
Over his lifetime his father had produced eight children from four different marriages which all ended in divorce. Tragically his father also had dozens of affairs, used prostitutes regularly and was a porn addict. Andrew told me had memories of his various mothers doing live sex shows for closed audiences in side show alley under his father’s direction. He even had to deal with transvestites and other perversions in his early years.
Andrew’s ‘user and abuser’ father acted in a very evil manner towards his children. It was for all these reasons that Andrew’s first words to me, just a few days ago were, “I wanted to kill him!”
Several years ago I had prayed with Andrew on the phone when he was separated from his wife and was trying to rebuild his life. The situation seemed bleak indeed but by a miracle of God things have turned around.
Earlier this year Andrew completed a Good to Great Fathering Course. In the Good to Great Course each dad has to come to grips with the principle of honouring their father and mother.
Understandably, this was extremely difficult for Andrew and he pulled back from doing it, but the seed of love was sown. All a seed needs is a bit of moisture and it starts to germinate.
The moisture was the encouragement of his trainer and fellow fathers at the Good to Great course. Also one of Andrew’s sisters encouraged him in the process of finding his dad and beginning the process of reconciliation.
Only last week Andrew spent the day with his father in the hospital where his dad, aged 66, was recovering from open heart surgery. Andrew told his father he loved him and forgave him for the many years of abuse as a boy, and thanked him for giving him up for adoption. His dad, obviously emotional, said words Andrew had never heard before, “Andrew you are my son and I love you”.
These words should have been spoken 60 years ago, but they never were, and consequently Andrew and his siblings have suffered. Paul Lewis said, “A father’s words are like a thermostat, that sets the temperature in the home”.
But a father’s words do far more than this. They set the future in motion for good or bad. The only way to break the negative effect is to look past the hurt and pain, and actively forgive.
The reality is that we are all broken and so were our fathers. In forgiving our dads and honouring them in the middle of our, and their, brokenness we forgive ourselves and healing comes to our hearts and then to those we love.
As we forgive, our capacity to love grows. This means that every time a man deals with his past and honours his father, his ability and capacity to be a father himself, grows even stronger.
I could hear hope in Andrew’s voice. His excitement to tell me the story showed me the joy bubbling up in his soul. I too was excited because I know Andrew and his children have a bright future ahead.
It is important to actively honour your own father, no matter how imperfect he was. This does not mean you have to agree with the bad things he did, but you have to move on.
Forgiveness is critical to your growth as a father. Honouring your father is the next step. Such behaviour will reap big dividends.
Yours for our children
PS.Ultimately you must make up your own mind about the postal survey. Having said that I, like Greg Donnell call on all Australian men to vote ‘NO’ in the postal survey. Same sex marriage is fatherlessness on steroids. Should it be legalised it will mean the word father and mother will ultimately be removed from government and legal language, as is now happening in Canada.
Check out this video if you don’t believe me.
Watch Elimination of mother and father in law
The banning of our Dads4Kids Father’s Day advert was just a small taste of what is to come.