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Dear Dad, Your Child Will Never Forget What You Say

One time when I was six years old, my dad shut the car door on my hand.  He didn’t see what he had done until the teeth of the clasp had already closed on my fingers and it was too late.  But for some reason, I just froze up and didn’t cry at all.

Dad quickly opened the door and made sure I was okay; and then he looked at my hand and said, “I just want you to know I’m so proud of you for not crying about that.  You’re a strong little boy.”

At six years old, I believed him.

When I was eight years old, my dad took my brother and me on a hike around our small town in south Mississippi.  At one point, we crossed the Leaf River bridge; and for the rest of that scorching summer afternoon, we hiked along the river until my brother and I were too tired to enjoy ourselves anymore.  Unfortunately, by that point, the only bridge we could cross without hiking a couple more miles was the bridge used by the train.  So my dad made the incredibly foolish decision to cross it with us.

We crossed the railroad bridge one extremely slow step at a time, because in between the railroad ties there was nothing but air.  And about 50 feet below the tracks, there was the Leaf River, just waiting for us to slip through the railroad ties and plunge in.  My brother and I were rightfully terrified that a train would come, but Dad – ever the survivalist wild man – told us that if that happened, we would all jump in together and he would swim us to the bank of the river.

We prayed desperate prayers for mercy as we crept over the bridge, and when we finally made it to the other side, we cheered for Jesus and ourselves.  “You did it, boys,” Dad said, and somehow I knew I could do anything with a little courage and God’s help.

When I was seven, a kid on our block beat me up, and after I pulled myself together, Dad took me into the back room of our apartment to teach me how to fight.  He explained how to defend myself, and then he impersonated a bully and started pushing me.  I knew what he was trying to do, but somehow it pricked a tender part of me, and I just started sobbing.

He took me into his big arms and said, “It’s okay, son.  We don’t have to do this right now.  Don’t feel bad.  We can figure out how to fight another time.”

And as Dad held me and let me cry, the shame of being beaten up lifted.  It was okay for me to cry, it was okay for me to be weak.  One day, I would be stronger – and I knew that was true because he said so.

I have not outgrown my father’s affirmations.  I recall these stories at age 35 and I feel as strong as I did when he closed that car door on my fingers, as brave as I did when we crossed those train tracks, and proud to be a man who isn’t afraid to cry.

In about thirty minutes, two little girls will wake up, climb out of their bunk beds and come down to see me.  I’ll close the laptop, cuddle on the couch with them, and we’ll begin talking.  And today, I’ll be especially conscious of the ways I verbally affirm them, knowing that 30 years from now, when they’re all grown up and loving their own children, there’s a good chance they’ll still be hearing my voice.

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5 Comments
  1. Thanks, Joshua. I always love reading about your relationship with Jesus.

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    June 15, 2014
    • Thanks Marc. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.

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      June 15, 2014
  2. lovey #

    This made me cry …I don’t want to rain on your parade but what I wouldn’t give to have had such a relationship with my own dad. I did not realize what I did not have until I became a young lady and met with all kinds of defiling events that sought out my weak areas I did not even know I had nor have any real answers to deal with them.

    Later I married a wonderful man who I trusted and he began to be a good father…then after 26 years of believing his wonderful ways with people and his charm and humor that he shared with our children it was discovered that he had been ‘spreading ‘ all of his ‘goodness ‘ around …He had had a secret life …another woman and two other children.

    Now it is sad since not only do I realize the loss of what my own father did not share with me and my brother in that he spent most of his time at work or on the golf course . I did not realize what I should have looked for in a husband . I did not know our family was not a ‘morally good ‘ one since we did not have a relationship with the Lord nor know any families that did.

    I did not know what I did not know that I NEEDED to know to avoid being used and deceived.

    I suspect others are like me and so have suffered deceitful users as well.

    The hard part for our family now is that , though my kids were homeschooled by me while my husband was busy ‘at work’ , and ‘at play’ continuing his own childhood while stealing the childhood his own children should have had…and not listening to warnings of how HE was missing out on their lives …and our marriage …We all have to rethink what it means to be a ‘good father’ and a ‘good husband’ since he was such a great deceiver.

    He was the guy NO ONE would suspect of doing such a terrible thing…and he is always so funny…so kind,….so generous …while this SEEMS like he is a great guy …in learning of his deceit, lying and stealing from our lives all the while continuing to feel that as long as we all seem ‘ok’ then he should not feel badly about ‘sharing ‘ himself with the OW and those children they planned and had together …I believe it UNDERMINES the ability to trust anyone again to be what they appear.

    This great ‘dad’ with all of the fun ideas WHEN he finally put any of us on his schedule…used to be appreciated because we thought we were so important if he gave us any time at all …NOW we have all learned he had PLENTY of time to give …he just CHOSE not to share his life with us in truth.

    Cherish the times with your dad and the love he gave but most of all cherish that he was genuine and honest with you and the man you grew up with was the REAL MAN HE WAS.

    This Father’s Day is one that has some pain involved …probably many may have that …

    The sad thing is that he has not been willing to change what the children of adultery know about what is right or wrong with what he and their mother …who KNEW he was married with young children DECIDED to do and kept doing it deliberately for 14 years.

    Now as we approach our 33 year wedding anniversary he has CHOSEN to stay married but not live with us …the ultimate pain is that our adult children are much more effected by his duplicity and dishonesty than he is willing to own . Our son recently married ..and during the ceremony he broke down as he apologized to ME for his father’s deceit! Sobbing in front of several hundred people who thought they were tears of joy.

    My husband is not visiting the Other children …but he is teaching them that marriage does not matter and fidelity is nothing. He lives away from our home because he told me he has ‘always wanted a separate life’ …and it seems he got it …despite the marriage vows and the covenant and the great family he always said we were !

    The world has gone crazy …thank God I have continued with the Lord and now it is another challenge and trial as I insist to stand for our marriage .

    I don’t think we want the devil to ‘win’ even ONE of these terrible battles against the family …the Lord and marriage!

    Thank you for the encouraging post …I hope I did not bring everyone down with mine but I wanted to share how great it is to hear that some men have DO really care about being upright and keeping their vows!

    Good for YOU …may GOD continue to work in your heart and mind and bless you accordingly with your wife and children~!

    Like

    June 16, 2014
  3. lovey #

    Correction…..I wrote ‘he is not visiting the Other Children’ ….It was supposed to say he is NOW visiting the Other Children….I see this as a part of the HUMANIST doctrine in application of an ‘idea’ of fatherhood being that the guy shows us a few times a week for a few hours…it is the idea that “QUALITY TIME” is what kids need…but I say there is NO ‘quality time’ without ‘QUANTITY ‘ time and that spent teaching by words and action what GOD’S instruction to father’s IS .

    My husband has thrown over dealing with our relationship to have a shallow and fair weather relationship with the children of adultery while not having any relationship with ME …nor the OW .

    He does not believe ANYONE has any ‘right ‘ to tell anyone else how to live …an ‘echo’ of what his mother once told me …”We do not believe anyone has any right to tell anyone else what to believe about GOD ‘ …that would include the Bible.

    This was after we married and my husband had been involved with me in a ministry …so I guess I should not be surprised that within a few years my husband ‘snapped’ back to think the way his parents thought….still ..once he had been knowledgeable and active in following Christ it is sad that he pulled away from the Lord and me.

    At least I was able to raise our children in the Lord …but their father’s example of rejecting God and the Bible and his own jurisdictions of husband and father took it’s toll.

    Anyway ….I am still l grateful to GOD as I begin to understand better than ever the impact of a man ..a husband and a father and what a genuine privilege God has given a man to carry out all that God has provided for him

    A man is not without a huge influence …no gender neutralizing dogma is going to change that and I don’t think it was lost on satan at all …we see a lot of carnage due to the lack of knowledge of the truth of this in our society…and world today.

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    June 16, 2014
  4. Sherry McLemore Tedder #

    David would be so proud! My fondest memories were riding in the back of his green car with him and dad sitting up front talking. We would go to church & many times up to Grandma & Papa’s graves to clean at New hope! 😉

    Like

    June 16, 2014

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