Where are You God? Do You care about me?
Growing up, our house wasn’t filled with love; it was a house of hurt, pain, and frustration. The only way my father communicated with me was through discipline. This really hurt because it was his affection I wanted most of all. I could never do anything right and I had no relationship with him. He used to take me to the park where he would go jogging. We never talked, either on the way there or on the way home. I always felt so alone. I’d try to talk with him and he would not respond. He would just drive, run, and we’d go home.
During an argument, I told my dad if he died, I wouldn’t go to his funeral. I think that was the worst thing I ever said to him. That comment landed me on my back looking up at the ceiling. I remember how sad and hurt I felt.
The most vivid memory of my childhood relationship with my dad has to be when he would come home from work and I would meet him at the door. I would ask him how his day was and he would say, “How many times have I told you not to ask me how my day was” and would proceed to walk by me, go out back and spend time with his tomato plants. I really believed he wanted to be around them more than he wanted to be around me. Each time this happened, it would just drive the distance between us.
But there was hope for me. In spite of the lousy home life, I had a relationship with God that started in the second grade. I would go to church and watch what was going on with great fascination. Soon after, I was allowed to spend my Saturday mornings helping at the church. I remember getting up on Saturday mornings with great excitement, getting dressed, and running up to the church. Serving at the church was my way of saying thanks to God for caring for me. I could feel the love from my Heavenly Father and His love helped fill the void.
Where are You God? Are you relevant to me?
I soon realized I couldn’t escape to the church constantly and that led to some major problems. Between the 8th and 9th grade I started using drugs, marijuana, and drinking alcohol. Getting high or drunk was an escape for me, and although the people I partied with were shallow for the most part, there was a comfort zone that I enjoyed.
I knew I was living a double life, but I didn’t care. I would go to church on Sunday then spend the rest of the week partying. This was the way I chose to escape from the life I hated. I was hanging in there by a thread.
Then one of the most important events took place in my life. I was in my early high school years and watched Godspell on TV. What I saw on TV touched me in a deep way. I saw a Man, sent by God, who loved everyone. I realized that Jesus loved all of us, including me. He didn’t condemn, he just loved. He then was taken away and died -- He died for me. I remember going upstairs to my bedroom and sitting on the edge of my bed. I gave my heart to Jesus. Someone who went through all that Jesus did deserved at least my heart. That was a great moment for me. I was experiencing the love of God through Jesus and it was fantastic, but there was a big problem that needed to be resolved.
As I was developing my relationship with God, I was getting ready to graduate High School and I had to decide what to do with my life. I couldn’t afford to go to college -- my dad made that perfectly clear. I had to get away. Even though I was trying to walk with God, I couldn’t stand being at home. God wasn’t easing the pain and even though I gave my heart to Jesus, I didn’t give up drinking and getting high. I was back to living a double-life again. Something had to give.
Where Are You God? Can I escape?
To get away from my dad, I enlisted in the U. S. Air Force and left for basic training. The day I left, my dad didn’t even come out of his bedroom to say goodbye. He simply did it from the darkness of his room. I remember thinking how appropriate it was for this part of my life to end -- me leaving and him in the darkness. I had mixed emotions. I was scared about going into the Air Force, but very excited about getting away from him.
I survived basic training and soon found myself deployed overseas. It was 1981 when I arrived. It wasn’t long after arriving that I realized how tired I was of being single and living in the dorm. I was lonely. The guys in the dorm were mostly party animals and I was tired of associating with them. I knew there was something better for me and I got tired of waiting for it. God was not delivering; so I took matters into my own hands and man did I screw up!
I was involved in church and met a woman there who was unhappy in her marriage. I became friends with her, her husband, and two children. Every time we got together, we would either be praying or drinking or both. One day she confided in me that she wanted a divorce. I helped her get it and in the process got involved with her. Everyone close to me, especially friends from church told me I was doing wrong and I should stop. I didn’t care. I saw the chance to get rid of my loneliness, so I did. I fell in love with her, at least I thought I did. I paid no attention to God’s numerous efforts to tell me this wasn’t right.
We got married and I was asked by the church leadership to resign from all of my activities. That was fine with me because I was happy and I felt fulfilled. I married into a ready-made family. Everything was great. Shortly after marrying, we returned to the United States. Then reality reared its ugly head.
One morning she said, “Nothing personal, but I don’t want to be married anymore.” What a rude awakening. I felt like I was hit with a sledgehammer. I was going to pay dearly for my irresponsible actions. What was sad was that I really believed in the institution of marriage and when I said, “I do” I meant it forever.
Where Are You God? Why are these things happening?
I now had to face up to the fact that God had not blessed our marriage and I should have never gone through with it. What a huge mistake I was paying. Sadly, the divorce wasn’t the worst part. When we got divorced, she was pregnant. I wanted the baby and she wanted the baby. We were at a crossroad. After meeting with her a couple of times and getting advice from others, we put our son up for adoption. I remember the day I went to sign the “termination of parental rights” documents that cleared the path for the new parents to adopt my son. I was numb. I was losing everything. I really wanted to have my own child in the worst possible way. I felt I was competent and able to be a father, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I was crushed.
In the process of losing my family, I realized just how far I had stepped out of the will of God and now I was reaping what I sowed. The nights of crying myself to sleep were horrible. My sadness was bottomless. It really crushed me to know I had fathered a child who would grow up and I would never know...and worse, he’d never know me. I really wanted to be the dad to my child that my father wasn’t to me. I was so close...yet so far away.
I felt like I had separated myself so far from God that there was no way back. Part of me felt like I was being punished by God for a huge act of disobedience. As I started to piece things back together, another tragic event happened.
My older and closest brother was killed in a horrible car accident. I was just starting to come to grips with the divorce, giving up my son, and then my brother was taken away forever. Again, I felt devastated and angry -- very angry at God for allowing all of this to happen.
My brother left behind a wife and three young children. It was really sad and one of the worst parts was not saying goodbye to him. But one thing happened that really helped me and gave me hope for the future. While I was visiting for the funeral, my dad and I went for two long walks and he talked to me. Those discussions weren’t really deep, but that didn’t matter to me. My dad was talking to me. That is what was important. It was the beginning of a relationship -- the relationship we never had prior. I hoped that we could be friends on some level, any level.