Worth More Than You Know

21 10 2013

Ben and I sat for a long time in the restaurant, making small talk, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes one after anImageother. Over the course of time I had been called away from home to talk, and often mostly listen, to someone going through a rough time.  I am neither a trained nor licensed counselor, but somehow I’ve found myself in settings like the one I was in now with Ben, called because someone needed to talk to somebody, anybody, and like I said I was, and still am a good listener.  I hardly knew Ben, but his wife had been several years behind me in school and we shared a friendship.  It was her that called asking if I would meet with her husband because he had become distraught and she didn’t know who else to contact.  I agreed and we met in Fort Wayne, IN since they had left our hometown also and this was now a good halfway point.

When we had spent almost an hour together, Ben finally blurted out what was causing him so much grief.  “Jenny wants us to start a family, but I don’t think I can do it.”  Smiling I said, “Ben, I think that’s the way most of guys are, the gals seem to always be more ready for that step than we are; have you told her you think you need more time?” Ben looking sternly at me now retorted, “That’s not what I mean. I’m not ready now, and I won’t be ready later; I can’t be a father I don’t have the ability to do it.”  If he didn’t have my full attention earlier, he did now.  “I don’t know you that well, but you seem like a great guy; why would you think that of yourself.  Only staring for a moment, Ben finally said, “We need to get out of here,” and he tossed a few dollars on the table to cover our coffee and headed for the door with me in hot pursuit.  When we were finally outside he lit another cigarette and didn’t say anything for a long time again, and I waited patiently.  Finally the words came forth that told the story of what haunted him so badly. “I can’t be a father because I don’t how to be one, I never had a father.”  I now knew where he was going before he uttered that terrible word that at least on one occasion I heard describe me,  “John, I’m a Bas###d!  For ones not familiar with the word I’ve disguised the dictionary definition is 1. A child born out of wedlock.  2. Something that is of irregular, inferior, or dubious origin.  (How’d you like have that descriptive hung on ya?)  Then he said, “I’m sorry, this was a mistake, I should have never come here.”  “Why is that Ben?”  Tossing his cigarette to the ground he snapped back, “Because unless you’ve been there you can’t possibly know what I’m going through.”  

Good Night, the way you arrange things Lord!  This old boy didn’t have a clue who he was talking to and getting ready to kick to the curb.  Mentally, for just a short moment I had left him.  The year was approximately 1985, but I had been swished back to 1970 where I was sitting at the kitchen table with one of my greatest heroes, Great-Aunt Pearl. The year prior I had learned the truth about my own conception, that the last name I carried belonged to a man that might have done his part to bring life to me, but never claimed me as his, never once filled the title or role of dad.  Mom who suffered from anxiety attacks never would talk to me about him especially after I learned the truth about the old buggerhead!  So I had to rely on Pearl to fill in the gaps of what I didn’t know.  On this certain evening we were together, she was relating to me the time mom and her first boyfriend came to her (Mom’s mother died when she was young and Pearl raised and cared for her after), the two young lovers were in their teens at that time and wanted permission to marry.  “What did you tell them?” I asked. “I said absolutely not, they were too young to be talking such foolishness.”  I asked, “What ever happened to the guy?”  “Oh, he finished school and married some years later, now he’s a successful farmer with a great big place with quite a few farmhands.”  My mind then went to all the years my mom struggled in relationships, all the hours she put in at her job to support us, and all that Pearl experienced also for having to live with her.  I just had to ask, “If you had to do it all over again, would you have let them marry?”  She didn’t even hesitate, “No.” “Pearl, how can you say that?” I questioned.  “As tough as mom and you have had it, wouldn’t it have been best for everyone?  Again, “No” she answered.  “But why?” I asked almost pleading for some type of understanding.  Again, with no indecision in her soft voice, and smiling at me she said, “Because had I allowed that, we wouldn’t have you, and you are the most important person God put in your mother’s life, and in mine.”

“Long before you were conceived by your parents, you were conceived in the mind of God.  It is not fate, nor chance, nor luck, nor coincidence that you are breathing at this very moment.  You are alive because God wanted to create you!  The Bible says, The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8a NIV).  Rick Warren

It took a while to sink into this hard head of mine, but I came to realize that I was not an accident; I was not inferior to anyone because of my birth, and it didn’t matter anymore that I was robbed of the love of a father; I discovered I was immensely loved, by my Heavenly Father.  Awesome!  To take it a step further, I came to realize I was a pretty groovy guy! (You like that old 60s hippie word?!!)  Again, not because I say so, but because my “Father” says so.

Psalm 139:14-16 – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Returning to the present, Ben and I spent the next hour talking about all things I’ve mentioned here, and doing my best to convince him that, yes, he would make mistakes; all us earthly papas do to one degree or another.  But that didn’t mean he couldn’t be a great dad to his future kids.  “Ben, it’s my belief that in some ways we’re more prepared for children than ones who had two parents, we know the importance of being there for them with unconditional love, just like our big “Papa!”  It was one of those times the words the Lord gave me seemed to sink in because the man who was now departing me had a much different, more positive attitude about himself than when we first began that day.

Just before he got in his car to drive off he yelled out, “Hey Miller, got one last question for you.”  “Shoot!”  “If you were to meet your old man now, what would you say to him?” My biological father died several years before Ben and me getting together, but had the occasion reared up while “Traveling the Rock Road,” I had it memorized what I’d say, “Hey Howie!  Whether or not you ever realized it, you were part of God’s plan; ya did good!


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