Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Staying Even When You Want To Leave

It's 6:30 AM on July 19, 2017.
I'm sitting in my kitchen, getting ready to go to work. 
I've been contemplating this return to writing here on my blog. I haven't written nearly as much as I used to and almost nothing in recent years. So much has happened. I considered, at one point, deleting this blog. I thought maybe it had run it's course. But every day I get hits. 20, 30, 50...
Every day, a large number of dads stumble across this page in their sorrow and sadness and find some measure of peace. 
There is a pattern. I get the heaviest traffic on Sunday nights and Mondays. I know exactly why. That's the day most of us take our kids back to their mother's and we are alone again. Mondays are the first day we wake up without them after a weekend visit. The pain is crushing. 
I lived that way for 15 years. My daughter was only 18 months old when we divorced and I spent her entire childhood, rebounding from the pain of every-other-weekend fatherhood. 
I watched as her life disintegrated because of her mother's second marriage. I rescued her many times from the clutches of the animal her mom was married to. 
In 2008 I lost my career and then my home when the economy collapsed. Because her life was in such turmoil, I could not leave to find work. I had to stay in Nashville. So I stayed. That meat living in my car. I was homeless for 6 years, until 2014 when I was hired by my alma mater and my daughter moved here with me.
A lot of damage was done. She went from age ten to age 16 without her dad having a place to live. We lost our weekends together. I saw her during the week, and I'd pick her up on a Saturday to spend a few hours, but it wasn't the same. It hurt like nothing I can describe. But I stayed.
I stayed and I endured that horror because she needed me. 
I know there are a lot of guys reading this who are in the same boat. I know there are others who could not handle the disappointment and chose to leave. I know there are some reading this article this morning who are on the are facing divorce and you think the best thing is to just walk away. There are others who are like I broken and crushed that you wonder how you're going to make it through another day. The pain from missing your kids is so great and your life feels so empty without them, that you consider not living at all. 
To those men I say, "Hold on." Even through tears, even through disappointment and mistreatment by your ex and by the courts and sometimes by your kids. Hold on. My daughter wasn't always aware of my sacrifices when I was making them, but she is now. Hold on.
There is hope. You can make it. There is a God in heaven who loves you. He sees your tears and feels the pain you feel. I have no secrets to how I endured six years of homelessness for the sake of my daughter except this...only my faith in Jesus Christ got me through. There were nights I considered just letting myself freeze to death. Or buying a bottle and drinking myself blind and letting myself die. But my faith sustained me. It wasn't pretty. I cried all the same tears. I suffered the same broken heart. But I did not suffer alone. Jesus walked each painful step. not give up. Do. Not. Give. Up. Find yourself in the faith I speak of here. Lean on the God who adores you and wants to help you through this. He loves you. He loves your children
Trust Him to give you the strength to stay till the end.

You are loved. 
You are still the daddy.