What happened after the last time my dad went to jail.
Listen to this song while you read. It makes me think of my dad every time.
A quick recap. Growing up I watched my dad hit my mom a lot, get drunk, do stupid things, be angry all the time, and so on and so forth. Then he went to jail. and then something really miraculous happened.
My dad, while in jail, encountered the Lord. I don’t know how exactly it happened; I’ve never asked him, but now I am realizing I should. The day my dad was released (early, for good behavior) he drove to my elementary school and I sat in his car, looking at the glossy pages of his Bible. You know what I’m talking about. I had some in my Kids Adventure Bible. My glossy pages were the 10 Commandments or why you should clean your room or how to be nice to your friends.My dad’s glossy pages were about murderers and rapists and robbers who found Jesus while in jail. I’m pretty sure it was a “prison ministry Bible.”
He went to New Heights as a way to repay a former co-worker for visiting him in jail. The following week he took me to NH. After I stopped going to The Salvation Army, he took me to AWANA. We went to all of the picnics together (and wore matching shirts sometimes, I have a picture somewhere to prove it). Every Saturday he took me to Christian Supply Store, where I first learned of Bibleman. If I had to make a list of the men that have influenced my faith, it would be: my dad, Matt Hannan, Willie Aames and Rob Birks. The first three happened within a few months of each other, and were all the result of my dad’s faith.
I believe it became my dad’s mission in life to rebuild our relationship and also make sure I did not have to wait as long as he did to have an understanding of Christ’s love for me. and he’s succeeded in both areas. People ask me questions about having been a Christian my entire life as if I have been subjected to living only within a Christian bubble that says “Jesus is real” and have never questioned it. This is false. I spent the majority of my childhood going to Camp Arnold and The Salvation Army and hearing people tell me that Jesus loved me and that I could pray to him and he would listen and all of this stuff that did not make sense or add up to what I saw and heard on evenings when my dad would drink. It never really added up. and then I grew up and realized that I’d got to experience a life without Christ second-hand.
Two people in my life made huge decisions that saved me from becoming angry, destroyed and bitter. First, my grandmother had the sense to take me to her church, The Salvation Army. This church sent me to Camp Arnold, where I was able to be a kid and had people tell me that they loved me and that I was pretty okay. It was eventually at Camp Arnold that I solidified my decision to be a Christian, to whole-heartedly pursue the Lord, and it is at this camp I feel continually called to carry out this same ministry of loving underloved children. The second was when my father surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and began to align himself to the teachings of the Lord.
I’d like to think that people see me how I see my dad. My dad is too loud, kind of an obnoxious story-teller sometimes, impatient, very honest, kinda rough around the edges… but all the while pursuing God with every ounce of his being.
Do you want to know a really quick summary of whatever happened between October and December of 1994? “…he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.”
ps. Fathers, be good to your daughters. Much of what John Mayer sang is true.