Fatherless Children

Growing up, it was just me and my mom.  I knew firsthand about sacrifice, hard work, being called names like church boy because I only owned one pair of shoes.  The first thought of seeing I was different when the gym had a built in storage rack in the wall for kids who didn’t have or bring gym shoes to gym.  The thought of seeing the other fathers on the block who had sons and daughters and I realized I had no father.  Even if there were Miller beer cans in the driveway or cigarette butts on the ground, they always treated the boys on our block with respect and they earned ours.  If we messed up, they would get us and then tell our moms and they would get us more for embarrassing them.  Yet, I always had clothes, food on the table and a pair of shoes not just because I had a strong single parent mother, but there were men in the church who would give me hand me down clothes from their sons who could no longer fit them.  The deacons and other men who didn’t have titles would always have a word of encouragement, a $1 if we quoted a Bible verse correctly, a smile if we were sad, a hug if we were broken and a strong presence when we needed to see what manhood looked like.

I didn’t meet my dad until I was 18 and on my way to college.  By that time I already had a father when my mom married for the first time when I was 16.  In those 2 years before going to college, I learned so much about having a father; but it could never replace those 16 years of not having to look in the mirror and see someone who looked like me or teaching me how to tie a shoe, catch a fish, shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, tie a tie, polish shoes, groom myself or go to a ball camp, a trip with just the fellas or have a rites of passage.  I missed all of those and so much more.  Yet, I grew up learning that God is a father to the fatherless.  Since then my dad has reached out to me and my family; he has been to my graduations, met my wife and his grandson, calls and desires to have a relationship with his son who was once fatherless.  I could be bitter and angry and let that affect my relationship with my son, family and use that as an excuse to live a destructive life but I chose not to.  It is never too late.  It is a journey that is filled with pain and yet it is one that is filled with joy.  Sometimes God can separate you from people even fathers who for whatever reason…it was complicated.  But looking back, it is good to know that God knows what’s best!

Now that I am older and I have a son. I see the importance of fathers in every facet of life.  My brief story is like millions who grew up without a father and now have children and pour every missed hug and kiss on their kids now so that they never have to live with the ongoing void.  To the adults who have lost their father and are now fatherless and yet are fathers to their nephews, nieces and mentors to other young men and women and yearn just for that one voice, hug, kiss, laughter or do nothing but just enjoy the silence of being in their presence.  To the one who never met their dad due to some form of abuse, gang, crime, drug or violent trauma.  You have lived with titles that have defined your pain and your existence.  God still has a plan for you and has always had a plan for you to succeed with hope and a future.  It’s not over!

Father’s day is not celebrated mainly because of the choices (reckless and/or refused to make) and passing that pain and frustration to many kids for generations.  We have labeled dads as deadbeats and baby daddy’s.  We have given names to our sons that impact their lives in negative ways or called them out when our angels look or act like their dads not in a positive reinforcement but in a way that halts their launch into manhood.  This is our fault for creating a world that dishonors fathers.

Irrespective of what we have done as fathers or the drama that some mothers inflict on the father, that in no way should keep you or prevent you from being a father.  You being a father has everything to do with providing and loving your child and has less to do with the drama that came with the title dad or father.  Psalm 10:14 is a confidence in God’s triumph over evil. “But you have seen, for you observe trouble and grief, to repay it by your hand. The helpless commits him to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

I am challenging myself for not being a helper of the fatherless.  Whether you send letters to the fathers and sons who are incarcerated; give time to organizations as a mentor to young men and boys; teach young boys in school or college; celebrate manhood and brotherhood in fraternities; give peaceful and encouraging words to every brother you see or just being an example to the young men or boys who are watching you because they possibly will never have a relationship or see their father again.

Happy Father’s day to all fathers and the fatherless!!  Jesus promised that He will be a Father to the fatherless. He will not leave you Fatherless and He will come for you.  He said, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.

We are all a fatherless child at some part in our lives, but even better is that we are all our Heavenly Fathers children: fathers and sons.  Whether you are a father, a son or a man who doesn’t have any physical children but you have many spiritual and adopted children who respect you and love you like a father…I solute you with brotherly love believing that we will change this cycle of generations born into fatherless homes and fatherless lives.

Don’t let anybody call you out of your name or think that just because you are a number (in the prison or court system) that you don’t have positive influence over your children or that it is too late to make a positive change.  With God’s help and with our desire to make things better regardless of the obstacles…We are the helper of the fatherless.

Be encouraged,

Happy Father’s Day!!

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Cutting off the unnoticeable will be noticeable

Rep. Steve King’s statement that a $20 Billion cut in food stamps won’t be noticeable fuels the hypocrisy of why so many acquainted with poverty believe that Congress doesn’t give a damn about the working poor.  This same Congress refuses to cut programs that favor the wealthy but are always seeking ways to cut programs that provide aid to the least of these.  It is very interesting how the ones who are for the rich make decisions and assumptions for the working poor. I speculate the ones making such statements have never experienced loss or walked a day in the shoes of those who need assistance, not to abuse but to survive. The subtlety to mention urban as if there are more people on food stamps in urban areas versus rural areas, plays on Rep. King’s stereotype that the working poor in urban areas waste spending and therefore must be penalized to live with less. If the premise is less food stamps for the working poor will go unnoticed, then please Rep. King, inform how these demographics will be able to survive off less assistance.  Tell the children who will miss out on breakfast and food to help them focus in schools based on a system designed to incarcerate them if they can’t read, write or do basic arithmetic. Tell the seniors who are already living on a fixed income and are weighing whether to pay bills and buy medicine versus eating. Tell our soldiers who fight for your freedom, lost limbs protecting our countries interests and after the all flag waving, God bless American singing, come home to no income, no job and need assistance to make ends meet.  Tell the disabled that they have to defend for themselves and that money that barely paid for their needs is now cut.

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, the Senate Farm Bill would result in an average cut of $90 per month for nearly 500,000 households nationwide. The average SNAP benefit is $4 a day per person, or $277 per household/month. This cycle continues in poor areas where cuts would mean one less week of food on the table each and every month for a typical family.  The proposed cuts could force families with children to skip meals, ration food, purchase cheaper but less healthy food, and/or choose between food, rent, medicine, and the gas needed to get to work.  This makes them less likely to maintain good health, excel in school, or increase their work productivity. This systematic approach isn’t accidental, but is a way for the rich to get richer off  impoverished programs that make it difficult for generations to escape poverty.

Taft Cleveland