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Why Fathers Matter

I’ve been watching a LOT of ESPN’s 30 for 30 lately. I’m not a huge sports fan, but with these films you get the stories behind all the glitz and glamour of high-profile athletes and sporting events. The last one I watched was about Maurice Clarett, and at its core his 30 for 30 is about fathers and sons.

The film documents the revival of the Ohio State football program and the down fall of Maurice. He was a promising athlete, started as  a Freshman running back, and carried the team to a National Championship on his back.

After the season was over, however, he was suspended indefinitely for NCAA violations. And his promising football career spiraled downward into a life of crime.

Maurice’s father wasn’t around. His mom did her best. He grew up in a rough neighborhood. And the coach, Jim Tresell, that promised to protect him…didn’t.

Maurice Clarett is Not Alone

Source: National Center for Fathering

Maurice’s story didn’t surprise me. Because the absence of fathers is a consistent theme throughout many of the films and society.

So many of these athletes fall prey to:

  •  trying to protect themselves
  • trying to provide for themselves
  • and trying to establish their own value.

So they take money from boosters, sell drugs, or worse…all because their trying to survive.

And millions of children, just like Maurice, are trying to survive.

The Fatherhood Problem

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 72 percent of African-American children are born to unwed mothers.

And the odds say the they are more likely to experience poverty, poor health, incarceration, and are more likely to be involved in violent crimes.

Fatherless children are:

  • 2 times more likely to commit suicide 
  • 4 times more likely to be raised in poverty
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 11 times more likely to have violent behavior
  • 20 times more likely to be incarcerated
  • 70 percent of juveniles in correctional facilities come from fatherless homes
  • 71 percent of adolescent substance abusers come from fatherless homes
  • 80 percent of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes

Source: The National Center for Fathering

My Response

These stats sadden me to my core.

But what can I do?

Pray and write. Write and pray. Because that’s what I feel is my mission.

Thankfully, I got to write the script for the video below. There are hundreds of things that I wanted to tell absent fathers about the damage they are doing, but  I couldn’t.

So we focused on one thing: encouraging fathers to be active and engage with their children.

The Lens of Fathers

Another problem with absent fathers is that we see our Heavenly Father through that lens.

For women,  if our fathers abandon or reject us…it affects how we see God and how we view men.

In her new book, The Wait, Meagan Good explains how her parents divorce shaped how she saw relationships—she always expected them to end. So she had to protect herself.

For men, when fathers are absent it affects how they see themselves. No one has told them their value, so they resort to trying to achieve it through work, athletic achievement, bedding women, and all manner of destructive behavior.

The Good Book Says…

Maybe that’s why the Lord holds the fatherless, orphans and widows so near and dear to his heart.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5

The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 (KJV)

 

Our Heavenly Father is Perfect.

Our Heavenly Father is not like our earthly fathers. Even great dads, fall short. But our Heavenly Father is nothing short of perfect.

He keeps His promises.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

He doesn’t leave us.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake theeSo that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  Hebrews 13:5-6

He’ll answer when we call.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13

And He’s always there to protect, provide, and guide us.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:25-26

Will You Help Me?

Prayer is our most powerful weapon.

So will you join me in praying? (I’m reading Fervent, based on the War Room, and I’m learning to pray specific and strategic prayers.) Please pray that:

  1. Fathers’ hearts will turn toward their children
  2. Children’s hearts will turn toward their fathers
  3. The Lord will supernaturally heal the wounds of rejection and abandonment.
  4. And that we would come to KNOW God as a good and perfect Father.

Question: How has your Father Story (good or bad) shaped how you see your Heavenly Father? 

PS: Maurice’s story ends well. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say he and his daughter will warm your heart.

13 Comments

  1. This is great, Simone! Such an important message for all of us to pray over. I grew up with a good and bad example of a father (I’ll tell you the long version some day :)), so I absolutely agree that our father and our father-figures greatly influence and shape who we are as women and how we will view future men in our lives, especially our husbands. Fatherless families break my heart because I know the importance of the presence of a father. You and your family are doing good work. 🙂 (Great video, too. :))
    Laura C. Brandenburg recently posted…When Anxious Thoughts Steal My Peace…My Profile

    • Simone

      January 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Hey Laura! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this has been so heavy on my heart lately. I agree with everything you said, and you know…I love how God has revealed Himself to you as a Good Father. Your relationship with Him is so intimate and personal, it’s one of the things I absolutely LOVE about your blog. You share with us how He is reassuring your heart, and meeting you in so many precious moments. That’s the awesome thing about our Heavenly Father, He waits for us and WANTS to show us His goodness and heal our hurts.

      Oh! And I smiled when I read your comment about my family, half of them are in the video! The second boy is my brother, all the little kids are my nieces and nephews, and two of the dad’s are my brothers plus Morris…so yes! The video was a family affair. That’s my dad talking at the end, and he’s been sharing this message of fatherhood for two and a half decades.

      Most importantly, thank you so much for joining me in prayer that means the world to me.

  2. Love this!!!!
    Nicole recently posted…God Will Hook You Up!My Profile

  3. Simone – Excellent!

    My father was there, then he was not there (parents divorced) then he was there….. but i knew that he loved me.

    I recently had an ah ha moment when it was revealed to me why i struggled for years to be able to grasp the love of my heavenly father. I knew that my biological father loved me but that Father/Daughter bond had not been developed in my childhood. So i equated my heavenly father with my biological father. I knew my heavenly father loved me, but for some reason – it was a struggle to grasp that oneness with him.

    Upon that revelation (leaving out a lot of stuff) and the Holy Spirit moving upon my heart, a re-connection was made with my Heavenly Father in a fresh new way.

    • Simone

      February 6, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Wow, Nan. Thank you SO much for sharing your story with us.

      I’ve been reading Fervent by Priscilla Shirer and she talks about how our enemy is just so strategic in leveling attacks against our families and relationships. She explains that each marriage and family is supposed to be ” a billboard for the eternal, unchangeable love story between God and humankind.” And I think that’s why our enemy works SO incredibly hard to destroy those relationships.

      I loved reading your story, because he didn’t win! You fought…and won the battle. And our Father has revealed His love to you in a new way. This just makes my heart so happy, Nan. So happy.

      I’m praying that millions would have that same revelation. Because it changes everything.

      • LOL! I purchased Fervent to read as well. Even purchased the audio version of it to listen to while in the car. But i want to get through her other book Armour first. 🙂

        • Simone

          February 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

          You are going to LOVE it, Nan. I saw Armour in Lifeway a few weeks ago, but I didn’t pick it up because I’m in the midst of two Bible Studies and have one more in the pipeline. I WILL put it on my list, though.

    • One more thing to answer your fabulous question: I grew up with my father living in California with my stepfamily. He’s pretty laid back and so am I so I thank God we had a good relationship and there were never any hard feelings. But I always had a sense that while things were cool , there was something missing: the passionate, intentional interest of an invested father. I called him my father but I felt like he was not really a father to me, just an older nice guy who happened to contribute to my existence. What complicated things is that he was married and had a son. I think subconsciously I realized that my half-brother probably got more “fathering” than I did and that it wasn’t ok. Turns out he didn’t but that’s another story.

      So how did that affect my relationship with God? Similarly, I grew up in the church so always had an awareness and recognition of God. His role in my life definitely increased when I committed myself to follow Him at 15. I felt the commitment strongly on my side but I realize for much of my walk I struggled with feeling/understanding His Fathers heart towards me. Reading Nan’s post reminds me of how I felt. While I knew and heard many stories of God active, alive, speaking and moving in other people’s live’s I didn’t flow in that or really expect to. Often I would think “Oh, I guess that’s for them, not me. ” I felt special but not in a “great” way, more in the sense of feeling like a 2nd class Christian. What transformed my perception was really spending quality time in the word learning about who He really truly was. It was in college that He spoke to me that much of what His children miss out on is due to a lack of understanding who He really truly is and who we really truly are in Him. I felt strongly His call to dig deeply and bask in that knowledge. That changed everything and now I see clearly, with grace, my father’s shortcomings and my Daddy God’s immense love and sweet nearness.
      Simone II recently posted…Southern Cyprus: Stunning stonesMy Profile

  4. This is such an on-point post, really speaking to a deep need in our society and in the world at large. I see the same dynamic in Liberia, a country where there are many men, proud beautiful men but very few fathers in heart not only in body. But God is so good in how He stirs up truth in those who have an eager ear to hear His heart for families and how to reestablish His standard. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and scriptureful post. On a side note, it’s interesting that the video pic is a shot that doesn’t appear in the video. Just noticing. Thanks again!

    • Simone

      February 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Hey Simone! Thank you for sharing what you are seeing in Liberia, because I don’t often think about the need for the restoration of fatherhood on a global scale. I NEEDED this reminder. I’ve talked at length with Kate about Ghanaian familial traditions i.e. birthing, courting, the knocking and I think I generally understood African families to be so much stronger than African-American families. So I’m curious, are similar dynamics with fathers prevalent throughout West Africa or is it unique to Liberia? Given the resettling and the strife that ensued around the 19th century.

      Yes, our God is SO good and I am so excited about what He is doing to restore His standard–even in society at large. Both Al Roker and his wife, Deborah Roberts, and Devon Franklin and Meagan Good have written books about families and relationships in the past month. I haven’t read Roker’s book, but I’m just so grateful that importance of families and relationships is being discussed on a national level.

      Regarding, His standard…that’s why I wanted to share SO many scriptures! Because He tells us directly how much He cares about this issue of fatherhood. Good catch on the video! We went through several iterations and we cut that scene (and several others) to make the video shorter. But I didn’t realize that the thumbnail wasn’t in the video…we just thought it was really important to show the role of father and son.

      Thank YOU for sharing your thoughts and giving us more strategic ways to pray. Love, Simone

  5. I love this Simone! It speaks to me on so many levels. I’ve rejected my identity as a fatherless child, although I was raised in a single parent home, because I have a father in God. He’s the best daddy in the whole wide world and beyond!

    What you said about how our relationship with our earthly fathers (or lack thereof) shape how we view God and spouses is so true. I’ve been there and done that. Feeling like I had to behave a certain way, or be perfect in order to receive God’s love because I thought it was conditional, because I thought the same was true of my earthly father. Every child who deals with abandonment thinks that it is somehow their fault and that they’re not good enough (which I would venture to say is one of the root causes of those abysmal statistics re: fatherless children). I was no different and that led to an unhealthy romantic relationship and a twisted view of what I should expect from a man who is supposed to love me.

    All I can say is thank God for Jesus! I’m a living witness that He is can wash you in His love and restore you to your rightful place. A place of healthy self esteem and acceptance.
    Faith Simone recently posted…Why I’m Writing Fearlessly in 2016My Profile

    • Simone

      February 9, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Faith, yes! I love, Love, LOVE that you have rejected your identity as a fatherless child…because He IS our father. And He is THE best daddy.

      Isn’t it amazing when our Heavenly Father reveals how much he loves us WITHOUT condition?! And He knows errrrrything. I mean errrything. Even when I was doing wrong, and KNEW to do right. And He forgave me and continues to lavish me with good things…okay I’m about to go into my own testimony service over here.

      Yes, I agree 100 percent with this–>> Every child who deals with abandonment thinks that it is somehow their fault and that they’re not good enough (which I would venture to say is one of the root causes of those abysmal statistics re: fatherless children). That why I think it’s so important we, as believers, pray specifically for this need and share with people how He has revealed Himself to us. Because when we accept Him, we have access to the best dad in the world. Because He loves and provides and protects and guides. And THAT revelation of how He sees us…changes everything.

      PS: Chile, I’m still praising over here about your publishing contract!

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