People often ask me what the hardest part of my job is. I think most people assume that it’s the gruesome stores, my clients crying to me in my office late into the night, then going back to their abusers after months of working with them, and dealing with children who seem to be raised by savages. Although all these things are hard and each case is different, it’s not really what gets me. I’m probably a little desensitized, but for the most part my conversations with residents is uplifting and Gospel centered. So what is it then?
A few weeks ago I was talking to a client. Her son was running past me and knocked his head on the corner of the table next to me. When I heard the smack, I turned my attention to him knowing he would immediately want to be picked up and loved. As I turned to him he looked up at me, tears already spilling and cried out “OWE daddy, owe!” and reached his chubby arms up to me to be held. He called me daddy. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This baby needs his dad and is reaching to me to fill that space. It makes me a little sick to think about how I can’t be that. As I held him in my arms, he soon wanted mom and I handed him off and started to think about the role of Father in our lives.
The kids in our program have usually been exposed to more than children living in lets say a middle class family home with two parents. Drugs, sex, abuse, abandonment and neglect just to name a few. They come in and all they have is mom. She provides everything for them. Love, shelter, support, the whole enchilada. And then they meet these women running this house. All of a sudden they’re getting this love that comes with so much authority and we start to fill the role of dad. I have 3 year olds who come up to my office at night to get a kiss good night, moms begging me to help discipline their young ones, and I get to be part of their (mostly hilarious) conversation around the dinner table. This role is such a precious blessing. I love being a part of these kids life.
The problem is that I’m not good enough.
I’m not dad.
There’s a 17 month baby at the shelter, who has never experienced a relationship with his father. I’ve never known a child who realized his loss at such a young age. It’s heart breaking to hear him cry out for a daddy. To stand at the door and look outside and ask for daddy. A man who has never been a part of his life. No amount of love that I give will ever fix that.
Never in a million years would I want women to go back to a man who abused her. I want all women to be treated with love, fairness, and respect in every relationship with men. Knowing that these women are escaping abuse from men who don’t deserve their devotion doesn’t these kids need for a dad. Even though I believe a woman is totally capable of raising children on her own if she needs to, I want so badly for these women to have the support of a man and for their children to experience that love.
My purpose in writing this is pretty straight forward. I want you to hurt for these little lambs. They’ve been beaten. They’ve been treated as worthless by their Fathers. They need things their mothers will never be able to provide. They’ve watched their fathers beat their mothers. They sit at the dinner table and tell me about how their dads are in prison for hitting their mom. They’ve been abandoned. They’ve been lied to. I want to make it clear how they’ve been hurt. When Jesus walked this earth, He had a special love for children. This was not His intention for them. His heart breaks for them, does yours?
Father is a role that is so irreplaceable. Every time one of the young ones expressing hurt over their dad, I gently remind them of their heavenly father who always provides for them and loves them unconditionally. But to a 3-year-old that’s not tangible, and they need more.
Men rise up!
Be a friend to the broken. Stand beside women who have been beaten down. Find time to love the fatherless. Stand in the gap. Most importantly, fathers, realize what you represent and do it with integrity. You are the pillar of the family. Take that blessing seriously.
There is a church in North OC who feels the call to stand in the gap. They not only get up on Sundays and express their love for abused women, single moms and their children, but they come down to these women offering a helping hand. The pastors call the house weekly to talk to the moms and see how their doing. They send food over on a regular basis. Members of the Church help financially support the house. And most importantly the men of the Church welcome moms and kids with open, healthy loving arms. It is the example that needs to bleed into churches and homes across America. They are only one body.
The hardest part of my job? That I can never be the father that these children need. I can make good dinners, read them books to bed, ask them about their day, kiss their cheeks, hold their hands in the grocery store and teach them about Jesus. But I was never meant to be in their lives in the perfection God had wanted for them. My heart hurts so terribly for the fatherless.
Can we create an environment where men of God adopt fatherless children into their hearts and love them the way they need to be loved?