daddy love

my oldest son, my father-in-law & jose
my oldest son, my father-in-law & jose

every sunday  night we go over to my mom’s for dinner.  it all started a few years ago when the refuge used to meet on sunday nights; when she’d come i’d give her $20 to take the kids to mcdonald’s on the way home for me.  she hates fast food and after a few weeks said “i’m going to make good food at my house for everyone instead”.  several years ago the refuge moved  to saturday night but we still go over to her house faithfully every sunday for good food & cable tv.  then my inlaws helped me on mondays when i was teaching a class a few years ago and now we still go there every single monday night for dinner.  these two traditions have become a beautiful part of our week.

on sundays, when it’s someone’s birthday or special occasion, we do a fun ritual of blessing that we call “affirmations.” it was my husband, jose’s, idea.  basically, whoever’s special day it is receives love & good things from every person there.  we each go around and share what we love and appreciate about that person.  it’s really evolved into something deep and meaningful.

in may it was my jose’s birthday & so his parents were there celebrating, too.  as we went around telling jose all the things we love about him, it became his dad’s turn.  my father in law, roberto, is one of the most precious, dear, loving people i have ever known.  his only child, only son, is the treasure of his heart, and when jose was 4 he left all he knew in el salvador to build a new life for his family in the united states.  when roberto started to share his heart for jose, no words came out, and he burst out bawling, overwhelmed with love for his son that couldn’t be expressed in words.  it was a holy moment that i will never forget.

my husband is loved well by his daddy.  and he loves my babies well, too.  he is seriously an amazing father to our 5 little bunnies and has that same heart and dedication to them that my father in law does to him.

my dad is a good man, too.  he’s got a heart of gold and is seriously sweet and kind.  the only trouble is that he also hasn’t had a sober day in 44 years.  not one.  he lives in an RV in a trailer park in northern california and i only talk to him when i call him.  he loves me.  his heart toward me is good, but the reality is that he can never give me the kind of love, stability and support that i deeply long for.

it’s made believing in God’s love for me harder.  it just has.  i connect with my dad when i reach out to him, but he rarely if ever reaches out to me.  it used to feel that way with God, too.  like it was all up to me.  i was pretty much on my own & if i wanted something, then it was up to me to pursue it.  that message has created a lot of trouble for me in my life.  it’s tiring.  it’s sad.  it’s lonely.

i know in my head that’s not true about God but my heart has wrestled with feeling differently.   all my wacked-out-God-stuff isn’t all my dad’s fault, but i know he hasn’t helped.

then, a chunk of years ago i met my friend mike.  we became connected through a recovery ministry and over time he began to do some of the things that a good daddy would do.  he showed up for things i was doing.  he told me he was proud of me.  he prayed for me.  he hugged me and told me he loved me.  he listened when i cried.  he worried about  me.  in loving redemptive community like this, part of my soul has been restored.  he’s helped me restore some of my relationship with God & myself & my real dad, too.

his daddy love is what i needed.

in the body of Christ, we are supposed to be mothers & fathers & sisters & brothers & daughters & sons for each other.  it’s hard to pull off because it requires intimacy, work, risk, trust, and a host of other things we are scared to do.  but in the end, so much healing and transformation can happen.

i was thinking yesterday how the world doesn’t need more “strong men who can lead and take control”.  the world needs more “strong, kind men who can love deeply & passionately & freely”, who are willing to risk their time and heart and egos and pride to love their families–both biological & adopted–through little-pockets-of-love.

i am blessed to be part of a community where men cry and love and care for others and participate in healing wounds that need healing.  they reflect Jesus and help restore dignity & worth in places it’s been stripped.   it can’t fully replace the love and presence of our biological families, but it sure can help this side of heaven.  so many of us have been orphaned, physically and emotionally.

the world needs more daddies (and mommies, too, but it’s father’s day)

thank you, dear men who offer your hope, presence, and love to others. you matter.

* * * * *

ps: this picture is of my oldest son, my father-in-law, and jose.  i love this picture.

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

25 Comments

  • Kathy,

    Thanks for posting. Nice article. So honest and real and vulnerable.

    Reply
    • thanks, judi. so bummed i missed you here but hope you had fun!

      Reply
  • Beautiful Kathy. I hope to be the kind of man one day that folks say kind things about like this. Thanks for the inspiration and for acknowledging that even in the brokeness of addiction Fathers can still be known for their hearts. Thanks also to Mike for stepping in and just being Dad when Kathy needed you — he is an unsung role model for many of us…

    Reply
    • thanks, john, i am thankful for your honest journey, too. to me one of the most beautiful things is when addictions are redeemed together in community. it’s glorious, and always a reminder that that beauty can be made from ashes. hope you’re having fun at wild goose, so sad to not be there partying with you guys!

      Reply
  • Wow – great post Kathy! It makes me so sad that your Dad doesn’t know and appreciate you the way the rest of us do. Thank God for Mike and his Daddy’s heart for you. He is such a blessing to so many (me included)!

    Reply
    • thanks, patty. yeah, it’s sad and weird and also so wild and beautiful how God can move through people to restore and redeem. i am grateful. thank you for reading and for being part of all this beauty, too!

      Reply
  • Way cool… Love the affirmations— what a great way to celebrate being born! As for that mike herzog, well, he is something. :0)

    Reply
    • yep, he really is something, isn’t he? so glad so many of us are healing through life together…

      Reply
  • “in loving redemptive community like this, part of my soul has been restored.” <– yep, for me too. As I have mentioned, the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers post has forever changed me, on so many levels. Even though I have been a literal orphan for 10 years, if I am brutally honest, I never truly felt taken care of or properly parenting. While that collateral damage is one thing, it wasn't until in healing community that I even felt what it could be to be loved in that way.

    Truth be told, it can be freaky to feel that good(!) in those vulnerable places. To be looked after, encouraged, challenged, and shown what the long haul really means, well, it is almost too hard (and too good to be true, even on a human level.) It is amazing how being velveteen rabbit like loved can change a heart forever. Thank you for being such an incredible mommy to me.

    Reply
    • i loved that post, too, and am so glad that it stirred up some good and scary stuff for you, too, and that somehow God is up to all kinds of wild stuff through life together. yikes! and hallelujah! both at the same time, paradox, ha ha.

      Reply
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  • Kathy, i could never have been a good dad 2 u or any others if u hadn’t, first, been the wonderful mommy that I had longed 4 and needed 4 all of my life. Thanx 4 getting that crazy ball rolling. I pray it never stops. It has changed my life forever. Love u sweetheart!!

    Reply
    • it’s weird how that all works isn’t it. mommy, daddy, friend, teammate, daughter, son. so beautiful. thank you for your love and heart and dedication to redemptive community. your presence has healed more than you’ll ever know..

      Reply
  • Kathy- this is such a vividly transparent post and thanks oh so much for sharing it!! My dad died when I was 8, and I have struggled with feeling God as being emotionally absent as well, especially when I see families together experiencing *daddy moments* you know?? It is Gods Spirit in action when people like your friend mike and yourself chennel the love and emotional connectedness longed for with our bilogical fathers as well as our Heavenly Father!!!! Keep going down so you ger lifted up sweet friend!!

    Reply
    • thanks, robert. yeah, you know well the loss…and what it feels like when it seems others have it and you don’t. i am thankful God flows through people; we can never be made completely whole this side of heaven, but i am sure that greater healing and deeper security and confidence-in-being-loved is possible. thanks for reading and for your love from afar, my brother.

      Reply
  • Once again, a beautiful post Kathy!

    And our background with our fathers are so similar!!! My story too.

    Blessings

    Mimosa

    Reply
    • thanks, my dear, for reading and for our friendship across the miles here…love and hope to you!

      Reply
  • Reading this made me cry because i love my dad so much. He is an African man who will never say the words “I Love you” but he always knows when i am down. He calls just to say he’s home, or the cow has calfed, or its is raining or the potatoes have been harvested. Our heavenly father tends to tell us such things when we are hurting (Job 38-41). Thank you Kathy for reminding us of Incarnational Love.

    Reply
    • thanks for reading, joy, and taking time to comment, too. the love your daddy has for you is beautiful, what a precious and treasured gift! lovely and holy in all kinds of ways….

      Reply
  • Thank you for such a heart-felt post! My father decided to stop loving me until I measured up, back when I was a pre-teen. I still feel the sting of that, even though we’ve worked together on healing the wounds. Whenever a movie has a great father-son moment I cry like a baby.

    I’m still trying to figure out this father thing, and my kids are both teenagers now. I know I make mistakes, plenty of them, but I don’t let a day go by without a hug and a “I love you.”

    So glad you’re willing to share. I’m challenged to keep partnering with God as he reshapes this lump of clay on the potter’s wheel.

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing, bruce. yeah, it comes in waves sometimes. father’s day this year i cried, i can’t remember if i did last year but sometimes i realize the magnitude of the pain of things just not being what i had hoped. thankful for healing & God continuing to heal us!

      Reply
  • No father could ask for a more precious daughter! I am so blessed!!!! Love you sweetheart!!!

    Reply
  • “my dad is a good man, too. he’s got a heart of gold and is seriously sweet and kind. the only trouble is that he also hasn’t had a sober day in 44 years. not one. he lives in an RV in a trailer park in northern california and i only talk to him when i call him. he loves me. his heart toward me is good, but the reality is that he can never give me the kind of love, stability and support that i deeply long for.
    it’s made believing in God’s love for me harder. it just has. i connect with my dad when i reach out to him, but he rarely if ever reaches out to me. it used to feel that way with God, too. like it was all up to me. i was pretty much on my own & if i wanted something, then it was up to me to pursue it. that message has created a lot of trouble for me in my life. it’s tiring. it’s sad. it’s lonely.”
    This is EXACTLY my situation…EXACTLY Kathy. Except in Southern California. And I am learning that I will never get what I need from him. And God uses Jim H. among other people to be what I never had (which is amazing). I am just starting therapy and processing my feelings about this so it is very raw. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing, sophia. sorry you know this feeling, too! argh. but yes, it is such a gift when others come into our lives to help restore brokenness. it’s a gift. love from colorado.

      Reply

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