Wednesday Wisdom: Fathers & Failures

As you all know, Sunday was Father’s Day. I saw a lot of conditional Happy Father’s Day messages and people debating the fairness of them, as well as many heartfelt blogs dedicated to fathers who are no longer with us. I read more than I could stand on the impact of absentee fathers and whether or not men and women need to just “get over” the fact that their father was or wasn’t there. It made me wonder what happened to understanding, appreciation?

It’s always been my belief that if you can’t thank your dad for anything else, you can at least acknowledge the fact that he had a hand in your creation. I realize that not everyone was as blessed as I’ve been to have so many strong father figures in my life, some related by biology and some not. Maybe you have a great father, but you have taken him for granted because you are so focused on hating the biological one you have. There are so many men who can fulfill the duties of a father to us, don’t limit your focus to one (or more) who have failed to do so.

When a company is looking to hire an employee, they don’t spend time sending out emails to bash the employees that don’t fit the job description; they eliminate them from the pool and focus on the ones that do. I have had a lot of surrogate fathers as well as my biological father who I could turn to for fatherly advice, monetary support, moral support, and spiritual guidance. They weren’t without their flaws, but the positive impact they’ve had on my life and relationships is worth celebrating (I purposely left this until after Sunday because I don’t think it should be restricted to one day). So, to highlight some of the most influential fathers/father figures I’ve had in my 26 years:

  • My stepfather, Keith Taylor Sr. This is the man that I grew up with. He was there as far back as I can remember. He taught me to love music and creativity. He encouraged my creative pursuits. He patiently read more sappy poetry and meoldramatic adolescent stories than any adult male should have to endure. When my little brother was born, he made sure that I knew I was still loved and still made time for us to spend together. He took me to “Bring Your Daughter to work day” and never corrected anyone that called me his daughter, because I was. I lost my stepfather in 2009, but I’ll never forget the impact he had on my life.
  • My uncle, Mack Taplin. I’ve been across the land and country with my Uncle Mack. There aren’t many people I could discuss the value of various Bible commentaries with over peanuts, nor people who would invite me to subway and then blame me for breaking his diet when my aunt found out. He taught me that life wasn’t fair and that at the end of the day you had to decide what was truly worth the cost (or “It’s a dirty world” and “everybody wants a piece of your paycheck,” alternately). When I ran out of financial aid and job prospects in Michigan, he and his wife sent for me and let me live and work with them until I could return to school. I go to him for all of my car advice and money advice…and to get the good peanuts.
  • My step-granddad, Morris Taylor Sr. Granddad used to pick me up every Sunday for church. He supplied me with sermons on tape, Gospel Minutes, and at least two different study bibles (that I still use to this day). The Bible I take to church with me now, my Keyword Study Bible, is the same one he had when we went to church together. It was through him that I met some of the most influential spiritual leaders that I’ve ever encountered–Bro. Leroy Medlock, Bro. Patrick Medlock, Bro. Darryl Holt, Bro. Dexter Harney, and many others–as well as many of my first friends in the church.
  • My father, Edward Hearns. I pretty much got my whole face from him, LOL. My father is largely responsible for my sense of humor  and love of movies. We are both tenacious people with enough stubborn will to accomplish what we set out to. We are both avid readers and intelligent thinkers. Throughout the years, we’ve grown to understand one another better and try to forge a closer bond, one that couldn’t be formed without the wiling participation of us both.
  • The many other men who have been role models and advisors in my life: my minister Bro. Harvey Drummer, Jr.; my elders Bro. James Macon & Bro. Darryl Ammons; my African American Experience and Toni Morrison teacher, Dr. Joseph Dorsey; the gifted and talented coordinator at Pontiac Northern High School; The counselor at HUB; and many other whose names I may have forgotten but whose impact is not lost on me.

Where there is no father, there are father figures, and there should be forgiveness. Everyone is not what we wish them to be. There are mothers who either are absent in body or neglectful in spirit as well. Sometimes the best thing someone can do for us is to remove themselves from our lives.

Of course, I wouldn’t fail to mention our Father in Heaven. Even if you weren’t able to find an earthly father figure, you have a Heavenly Father who cares for and about you. There are still somethings that I can’t understand, as I’m not a parent. We can all say that we “can’t see how someone can do that,” but until we are there, we can’t know that we won’t.

I’m sick of the blame. It’s your dad’s fault he wasn’t there; it’s your mom’s fault she slept with such a sorry man to begin with. Your father deceived her; she deceived him. They were too young. It doesn’t matter. The only thing you’re responsible for is what you allow to rule your life. I’m grateful I’m here. I’m grateful I don’t have to make their mistakes. I’m grateful all of these men knew/know the impact they’ve had on my life while they’re alive. I’m grateful I can move forward into a romantic relationship of my own unburdened by what my father did and didn’t do (and I’m sure Mr. Perfect is glad of that fact, too!)

But it’s not always that easy. Take the time to deal with you and heal you. Release all of the negativity for men that you harbour, whether you are male or female. Allow God to be the Father you never had. See all of the father figures around you that have shaped your life in a positive way. If  necessary, seek counsel with someone trained to help you heal and move forward.

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