I saw him once. When I was five years old, he dropped off a BMX bike and patted me on the head. Though I didn’t know him, he felt familiar. I tried to make eye contact, but he dodged it. It was as if my face haunted him. Upon his departure, my mom told me that he was my father, and like seeing a mythical figure, intensely I watched as he drove away.
He lived only five minutes away, but it might as well have been 100 miles. Although close in distance, my father was completely absent from my life. The void affected every area of my being. As a child, I developed abandonment issues that I wore like a victim. Anytime a friend canceled plans or said yes to something they couldn’t deliver, I’d hold a serious grudge and couldn’t forgive them. I was quick to throw out the phrase “you’re just like my father” causing those close to me to feel ashamed.
One day in school, a teacher complimented how well I drew kids. She said I could create a book full of kid characters. Instead, I turned those characters into conversations with my future children. When Father’s Day would come around, I’d write a card to my future children every year letting them know I’d never leave them.My classmates and teachers thought it was awkward, but year after year it gave me hope. Having a healthy legacy and cutting a generational curse of fatherlessness in my family became what I dreamt about.
People asked me what I wanted to be when I got older. I’d say “a Father” with boldness.
It meant more to me than a title or responsibility. Wearing fatherhood with honor one day felt like my inheritance passed down from ancestors. However, doubt and fear still found ways to infiltrate my train of thought consistently.
In my teenage years I developed habits like manipulation, giving up easily, and compulsive lying that carried with me into adulthood. These became my way of hiding my hurt from those who could get close to me. It was the wall I put up to draw boundaries from receiving future heartbreaks.
These habits grew like weeds in my behavior, and I began to feel my hopes of having a family of my own were being suffocated greatly. It was easy for me to exit out of women’s lives, and I became desensitized to the very thing that gave my soul life –– family and my dream of fatherhood. I tried to ignore the pain I saw in my mother’s eyes when she witnessed my behavior and what my character had become. But it was impossible. I had no self-value, no self-respect, and I treated others with that same low evaluation.
When I looked in the mirror, I was so disappointed with who I was becoming. My eyes appeared to lose all sense of innocence. It felt as if my inner light was dimming quickly.
I entered my mother’s house crying, on my knees, praying to change and for a wife. It was at this crossroad where I chose legacy over fear and generational blessing over continuing a generational curse. My mother stood in agreement with me and became a powerful accountability partner in that season.
I dealt head-on with my abandonment issues and stopped using my father not being around as an excuse to be a victim. I began building a stronger foundation by being more transparent with others about my past mindset and seeking wise counsel from other men. I welcomed dialogue about what makes a relationship healthy, and I also began using daily self-affirmations to evacuate any anxiety.
My mother noticed and spoke with me about the change she too saw in me. Throughout my healing process, she kept sharing with me how proud she was of the man I was becoming. Those words of affirmation pushed me through on days my past tried to creep in with shame.
Then, that very same year, it happened. I met my wife.
My wife and I met on MySpace, believe it or not. We were both writers and communicated to one another through potent language for two months until we met in person. My wife knew the importance of legacy in our family and wasn’t afraid of getting information –– be it good or bad. She walked me through forgiving my dad. She even gave him a call and invited him to our wedding. Though he never appeared at our ceremony, I felt free of bitterness and excited that a new chapter in my life was birthed.
Sadly, weeks after our wedding, we received a call saying he’d passed away. That was the first time I ever cried over missing him. That fueled my drive to build a foundation of marriage that could not be shaken. It made my hunger to have a family of my own not just a concept, but instead something that was tangible.
When my wife told me that she was pregnant, joy infiltrated my whole being like never before. I realized I was given the power to break the generational curse of fatherlessness that I always dreamt of.
The day my daughter was born, I felt as if heaven invaded earth. It was as if all the words I ever spoke over her and visions I ever had become tangible before my eyes.
I felt purpose infiltrate my being. My destiny was being fulfilled –– I would wear the title, “Father.”
My daughter and father now share the same birthday; I like to think that’s God’s way of restoring what was once lost. Today, my daughter lives in knowing her father and mother are there for her in the most loving way possible. A new legacy now lives full of hope, restoration, and faith. It’s an honor to be a proud husband and father.