Series Code: AFH
Program Code: AFH000019A
00:01 A good father takes time to play.
00:05 He has strong integrity.
00:08 He is someone that is truly dedicated.
00:12 He is not afraid to show his love.
00:15 He is a caring provider.
00:19 And he is a kind spiritual leader.
00:23 These are just a few ways to describe a father's heart.
00:33 Hi and welcome to A Father's Heart.
00:34 I'm your host Xavier.
00:36 And today, we're going to be discussing broken fathers.
00:39 You know, fathers go through many different things
00:41 such as divorce, maybe they lose a spouse.
00:44 And what are we doing to help these fathers
00:47 to restore them,
00:49 you know, to be able to be complete for their children.
00:52 And with me to discuss that today
00:54 are my friends Gordon and Paul.
00:56 How are you guys?
00:57 Doing good. Doing good. Blessed, brother.
00:59 So broken fathers, you know,
01:01 going through the process of grief
01:03 if you lose a spouse,
01:05 even grief when you get divorced,
01:07 you know, what are we doing to restore these gentlemen
01:10 to be fathers, whole fathers again?
01:14 You know, I haven't personally experienced firsthand
01:19 the brokenness as to lose another spouse
01:23 or, you know, anything of that nature, the only...
01:26 Praise God. Praise the Lord.
01:28 What I've experienced
01:29 is the loss of my father-in-law,
01:32 my wife's dad, and that in itself is traumatic
01:35 'cause I've been a support to her,
01:37 trying to even keep my own self together,
01:40 my own emotions together.
01:41 And I think, the best thing that we can do
01:43 or what I do is just being able to sit in the room
01:46 with the father and just listen to them,
01:49 give them that opportunity to talk about their grief,
01:52 talk about their pain,
01:54 talk about what their struggle is,
01:56 and not trying to fix them, you know, we like to fix.
01:59 But I think this is one thing...
02:01 Grief is something that we can't fix,
02:03 something that we need to be able to just being there.
02:07 I call it ministry of presence,
02:09 you know, I just want to be there
02:11 for the person to help them along the journey.
02:14 That's the one I can offer,
02:17 you know, in this conversation for now.
02:19 Absolutely. Absolutely.
02:21 Being there would be paramount.
02:25 I don't think there's any other work
02:28 or supporting effort that we can give
02:32 that would be more helpful than our presence.
02:38 It's good to let individuals know,
02:41 whether male or female, we're talking about fathers
02:43 but I'm going to be inclusive as well.
02:45 When it comes to grief, hurt, and recovery, I think,
02:49 the hardest thing for an individual
02:51 is the isolation.
02:53 It's this sense of,
02:55 "This is what I'm going through and no one else understands.
02:58 This is what I'm going through
02:59 that no one else has experienced this
03:01 or no one has experienced it the way I have."
03:05 They're right, you know?
03:07 The average person that would say to me,
03:08 "You don't know what I'm feeling."
03:12 No, I don't.
03:13 So it's important to point them too.
03:16 If that is the void,
03:19 this isolation, this loneliness,
03:21 it's important that we point them to Christ.
03:24 Right. And it is for most of us.
03:26 What a lot of people are not aware of
03:28 is that Christ has suffered as them,
03:33 He has suffered as us.
03:35 We say at times,
03:37 and it has almost become cliche in reference,
03:39 we say, "Well, you know, Jesus died for me."
03:42 And it's important to understand
03:43 that Jesus did not just die for us,
03:46 He died as us.
03:48 We go to Isaiah 53 and we take some time of study
03:53 and meditation in Isaiah 53
03:55 and you go through the sufferings of Christ.
03:58 Look also through the Psalms
04:00 and see what it says about the sufferings of Christ,
04:03 and we contrast that to His experience
04:05 and the transfiguration in the garden of Gethsemane
04:08 that He had to bear the sin of the world.
04:13 So it may seem trivial when we say,
04:16 "Yes, He faced every temptation."
04:19 He may not have faced your literal exact experience,
04:24 but He faced the same magnitude of that experience,
04:27 and He had to carry that to the cross.
04:31 All of your brokenness, all of my brokenness,
04:34 it was upon Him, that's what Isaiah 53 says.
04:37 So all of that hurt and pain from whatever it was,
04:42 if it was the result of a rape,
04:44 if it was the result of a relative committing suicide,
04:47 if it was the result of a divorce,
04:50 if it was the result of a loss of a loved one,
04:53 He had to carry that.
04:55 He felt it, He had to take it to the cross.
04:57 And that's why, I guess, my favorite text is that,
05:00 "I will look to the hills from whence cometh my help.
05:03 My help comes from the Lord, which make heaven and earth."
05:06 So anything that we go through, any brokenness
05:10 is that's where we have to look,
05:12 we have to look to Christ
05:15 because He is the one who's going to take this pain,
05:18 He is going to take all of this from us.
05:20 And we're not...
05:21 I'm not going to say
05:23 that we're not going to feel the pain
05:24 'cause you're going to feel the pain,
05:26 you're going to feel it.
05:27 I remember looking at one of my family members
05:31 go through a divorce, young man, two young children,
05:36 and it ripped him apart.
05:40 And as a close family member, as an uncle,
05:43 I'm there just standing in the gap with him.
05:48 Not only did he lose everything,
05:52 and it really tested his relationship with God
05:57 to the point where, you know, he was just going...
06:00 He would go through the emotions
06:02 of what it means to go to church
06:06 and be a Christian.
06:08 But I don't believe Christ was in Him
06:11 because that brokenness
06:13 caused his relationship to be broken,
06:17 and so it just was a spiraling effect.
06:19 So I've seen the pain that...
06:21 I've see the heartache, and so I know it's not easy.
06:25 So ministry just being there, and I was just there for him.
06:28 Be a listening ear,
06:30 just to hear what he has to say.
06:32 And I think, that's critical, you know?
06:34 And I do appreciate what you're saying,
06:37 but if somebody has gone through divorce,
06:38 I could tell you firsthand that
06:41 I wouldn't want to know anything about Jesus.
06:45 You know, here I am, first year of seminary,
06:49 going through a divorce, you know?
06:52 And I'm thinking back to my worldly days,
06:55 and I had gone through a divorce
06:56 at a very young age.
06:59 So here I am following a perfect being,
07:03 His name is Jesus, and what does He give me?
07:08 Another ripped...
07:10 You know, it's the ripping of...
07:11 That's why it's so critical
07:13 to let God marry you to the right person.
07:16 Not saying those people are bad,
07:17 not saying my ex-wife is bad.
07:19 She's a good person.
07:21 But God had other plans.
07:23 And when the two fleshes rip, it hurts.
07:27 I can tell you firsthand right now.
07:30 I sat in the basement of the house
07:31 that I was renting and I drank.
07:37 And this is somebody who's been a future pastor,
07:39 being trained in every kind of theology.
07:43 And I drank, I didn't want to,
07:47 but that's the only way I knew how to cure the pain.
07:50 I got through the DivorceCare,
07:53 but it still hurt so bad.
07:57 And I have a child,
08:00 you know, and all these mixed emotions,
08:02 you know, this is because on one hand,
08:04 I go to the church and church says,
08:06 "Oh, that's not supposed to happen.
08:07 God hates divorce."
08:09 "Okay, He does, but it happens.
08:11 What are you going to do about it now
08:12 to help me?
08:14 I'm hurting,
08:15 I want to kill myself, I'm suicidal."
08:17 "But wait, you are a self-professed,
08:19 somebody that's been a pastor."
08:21 "It doesn't mean I'm not human,
08:23 doesn't mean I'm not going to suffer.
08:25 So here I am, going through that."
08:27 And you know what helped?
08:29 Actually, God.
08:31 Three o'clock in the morning, He woke me up.
08:33 Mind you, I had drank every day I could imagine,
08:35 so I wouldn't wake up.
08:37 He woke me up. Hallelujah.
08:39 And that Bible just became clearer that day.
08:43 And it wasn't anything theological,
08:46 it was something that was hard-hitting for me
08:49 to know that restoration was just around the corner.
08:53 And you know what helped? Community.
08:57 You know how many of my colleagues in seminary
08:59 came to my house to pray,
09:01 to sit and circle me with prayer and support?
09:04 And ministry of presence is so key,
09:06 so vital, you know, and that hurts.
09:09 You know, it hurts to the point where I refused to love again,
09:14 I refused...
09:16 Now mind you, you know, God is love.
09:18 I refused to want to experience love again.
09:20 I'll experience God's love
09:21 but I don't want to experience relationship love
09:24 'cause all the church is going to tell me
09:25 is "God hates divorce.
09:27 We're going to put you in DivorceCare."
09:31 What are you doing to help me?
09:33 Where is, you know, Simon?
09:38 You know, where is Simon?
09:39 Where is Jesus' Simon where he helped,
09:41 you know, even though
09:43 he was forced to carry that cross,
09:44 there was somebody else to carry the cross with Him,
09:47 for Him, you know?
09:48 And when I went to...
09:51 When I started have feelings again for this young lady,
09:56 I told her.
09:57 I said, "My heart is guarded, I have snipers on the roof,
10:01 and I have pit bulls at the gate,
10:03 and I have this barbwire fence with electricity."
10:06 Mercy. "That nobody is getting in."
10:08 And you know what God did? He just laughed at me.
10:11 He said, "Okay."
10:13 And now I've been married for quite some time now
10:15 to a wonderful woman.
10:18 But I would not be able to see that at the time.
10:20 I was unresponsive
10:21 and I was not willing for anybody to talk to me
10:24 about any type of Jesus because I'm hurting and while,
10:29 you know, it's good to talk about Jesus.
10:33 I also see Jesus as somebody
10:35 who was a very humanistic psychologist.
10:41 The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery,
10:44 every single instance in which society went to condemn people,
10:49 He didn't say stop.
10:51 He just says He is with them in the trenches.
10:55 When they're hurting, He is hurting, when...
10:58 That's what I saw about Jesus is the fact
11:00 that He wasn't saying, "I hate divorce, so stop it."
11:04 Well, we should never get divorced realistically
11:07 because that's not the ideal thing,
11:09 it happens and it's happening so much more in our churches.
11:13 So much, so much.
11:16 Jesus says, "You know what, I understand.
11:19 I see it, because the hardness of your hearts,
11:22 this is why it's happening."
11:24 "So here's what we're going to do."
11:26 And that's one thing
11:27 that I want to understand as fathers,
11:30 how do we
11:32 when somebody is grieving, especially a father,
11:34 a man who was supposed to be big and strong,
11:36 how do we teach our kids to see beyond the exterior persona
11:41 and see the brokenness inside to restore?
11:45 I think we just have to be real to them.
11:48 A lot of times, we don't sit down
11:50 and talk to our kids about our pain,
11:52 we don't talk to them about what we're feeling
11:55 because we're trying to be this whatever macho,
11:59 this don't-cry kind of a person.
12:02 But if we would talk to them about our pain
12:06 and our feelings, and I want to...
12:08 Something you said that really hit me.
12:12 God could have stepped in and stopped your hurt,
12:17 but He allowed you to go through the hurt
12:22 and then when it was right,
12:24 He stepped in and changed.
12:26 He allowed you to go through alcohol,
12:28 all that stuff that you were going through,
12:30 He allowed you to go through.
12:31 Now that's an awesome God.
12:35 And so when we meet people with brokenness,
12:37 we all would want to get in there,
12:38 "Okay, you need to this or you need to do that."
12:42 You got to let them go through it
12:44 because when they go through it,
12:45 that's when they know
12:47 that God can take them through it,
12:48 He is going to bring them out of it.
12:50 But we need to...
12:52 We need to be just transparent with our children.
12:56 They're going to get hurt, they're going to feel pain,
12:58 and it's okay.
12:59 I think that's very important.
13:03 Quite often, our children don't get to see
13:08 our potential for vulnerability.
13:11 We're afraid to express
13:14 or in any way allow our children to know
13:17 that we have been vulnerable at times in our own lives.
13:22 I pray that someone watching this program here
13:26 can see three pastors as imperfect individuals
13:31 who have struggled in their own life
13:34 in various areas and yet God has chosen to work
13:37 in and through us.
13:40 And it is such evidence
13:42 of the love of our God, you know?
13:45 Three degrees
13:47 and X amount years of professional experience
13:49 and this, that, and the other,
13:50 and I'm still broken, I'm still not perfect,
13:53 I still hurt,
13:55 I still have situations where I have to cry out.
14:00 And after, in retrospect,
14:03 I look back at one experience or the other.
14:05 Sometimes, I'm embarrassed,
14:07 you know, I look at myself and say,
14:09 "Gosh, you know, what happened to you, man?"
14:11 You know?
14:12 But we all have those experiences
14:15 and we have to let our children know,
14:17 especially our young men know
14:19 that it is okay to be fragile at times,
14:23 it's okay to be hurt, to be hurt is human, right?
14:28 To be hurt only proves that that you are human.
14:33 But nothing is stronger than that presence.
14:36 There is such a statement as when prayer is not enough,
14:40 when prayer is not enough.
14:42 So there are so many things
14:43 that we tend to attempt to pray away.
14:46 Yeah. Yes.
14:47 And you know, we approach the person
14:50 and we lay hands on them
14:51 and we pray and we say, "Behold, be yield,"
14:54 which is necessary.
14:57 Even James instructs us to do that,
14:58 but then we still have...
15:00 We need to remain, we need to remain,
15:02 and we need to be present,
15:04 and we need to let that person know,
15:06 "Listen, I'm here for you."
15:08 Not to be Eliab
15:11 or can't remember the other two,
15:13 Job's friends, you know?
15:15 Yeah. You don't have to be like that.
15:16 But you don't have to be there to bombard them with advice
15:20 and psychology and all this kind of stuff,
15:23 just being a brother and being there.
15:25 A member that experienced the loss of a son,
15:31 and it was a traumatic loss.
15:35 Up to now, that member can't pull themselves together,
15:40 and they believe in prayer, they believe in that power.
15:43 But for some reason,
15:44 they can't pull themselves out of it.
15:48 They have to go through it.
15:50 And so we can't just try to fix things.
15:56 The fact of the matter is that all of us are broken.
15:59 And so in my brokenness and in your brokenness
16:02 and in your brokenness,
16:04 we all are going through at a different level
16:06 of different experiences,
16:10 but the one thing I want to recommend
16:12 and suggest as men, fathers, with our children,
16:16 being able to come together like this
16:18 and talk about their brokenness.
16:20 Talk about what you're going through,
16:22 talk about what the experience is.
16:24 In that way, we can learn to embrace
16:27 and connect with each other
16:29 and gain strength from each other.
16:31 The problem with us is that we live in isolation.
16:35 We take all of our burdens and all of our brokenness,
16:39 and we tell, "You know what,
16:40 I'm going to hold on to this as some kind of a pet,
16:44 child, or whatever, pet animal."
16:46 But we need to be able to sit in community
16:48 and talk about it and teach our young men
16:50 to do the same thing
16:52 because they will perpetuate the same things
16:54 that we are dealing with,
16:56 they're going to just keep on continuing the cycle.
16:58 That's a continuous cycle.
17:00 And I believe in going back to the basics.
17:02 You know, for me,
17:03 when I re-read again the story of Jesus,
17:09 I was blown away 'cause I'm like,
17:11 "So here is the Son of God coming from a blended family."
17:17 You know, to me, I had to re-read it again
17:20 because, you know, now I'm married
17:23 and we're a blended family,
17:25 and that's supposed to be statistically wrong,
17:29 like you're supposed to fail.
17:31 We even had particular people of high esteem
17:35 that told me to my face,
17:38 "Xavier, we are going to pray that your marriage fails."
17:42 I had to learn what turn the other cheek
17:45 meant at that point 'cause I was livid.
17:48 I said, "Okay, okay."
17:51 But we see Jesus coming into a world
17:55 that's a mess, that's broken, being a...
17:58 And a young girl, being born from a young girl,
18:03 and a man who now is about to get married to this girl,
18:06 said, "Wait a minute.
18:07 Are you pregnant? How did this happen?"
18:10 You know...
18:12 Obviously, the angels reveal and God reveals Himself
18:15 and told them what the plan was,
18:18 but that same circumstance happens today.
18:22 You know, restoration for me came
18:23 when I understood that here is Joseph,
18:27 he doesn't have to pay any child support.
18:30 Okay, fine, great,
18:31 but he has the responsibility of raising a son
18:34 that's not his
18:35 and a son that is the Son of God,
18:38 you know?
18:39 And what I drew from that is the fact that our churches,
18:43 we need to do more, beyond DivorceCare.
18:47 Really come in and counsel these men
18:51 who are now thinking potentially to get remarried
18:55 and educate them through God's Word,
18:57 not through our personal feelings
18:59 and emotions,
19:00 even though we have experiences but through God's Word
19:02 as to what this restoration looks like
19:05 and what it's going to look like down the road.
19:06 I don't know. What do you think?
19:08 I wanted to speak to the element of faith
19:13 and faith's role in recovery,
19:16 faith's role in loss.
19:20 You talked about redeeming.
19:22 We have a culture where I think
19:25 we inappropriately
19:29 address a measure of faith or a lack thereof,
19:33 you know, it sounds when we're praising people
19:36 for a success that they have had
19:38 absolutely nothing to do with.
19:39 Listen, let me be plain,
19:41 even within our culture of pastoral work
19:43 and the call, I hear people wax eloquent all the time, man,
19:47 about all this, that, and that, that, the other,
19:49 "And it wasn't because of that...
19:50 the last minute, you know, this happened
19:53 and this happened because..."
19:55 We don't know, you know, we really don't know.
19:58 But someone who is hurting,
20:03 they're not hurting because they lack faith.
20:06 Someone who has been through a loss
20:10 and is unable to cope with the loss,
20:13 they're not necessarily hurting or unable to cope
20:17 because they lack faith.
20:20 2001, which was about my second year in seminary,
20:25 packed up the truck, left Florida, sold home,
20:28 you know, all this kind of stuff.
20:30 Get here and I'm making this commitment
20:32 towards ministry,
20:34 my wife becomes pregnant with our second child.
20:39 She has a high-risk pregnancy, wife is hospitalized,
20:43 we try our best with all the different medical,
20:45 you know, practice and all of that
20:47 to get her to where she needs to be at gestation
20:50 until it's time that they said,
20:51 "Okay, we have to deliver the child now."
20:54 And that was just I think a little past six months.
20:57 And so daughter was born,
20:59 daughter was fine in physical appearance,
21:03 arms, legs, 10 fingers, 10 toes, eyes, and all of that,
21:06 fully functional as a child,
21:08 but she was yet born with lungs that were not fully developed.
21:13 And so after they delivered my daughter, our daughter,
21:17 and they placed my daughter in my arms and wrapped her,
21:22 I knew she wasn't going to live,
21:23 you know, they told me that.
21:25 And I told the nurse, "No."
21:27 When the nurse came to me and said, "Here's your child.
21:30 You know, we need you to spend some time with her."
21:32 "No, that's all right.
21:34 You know, no, that's okay."
21:37 And the nurse encouraged me
21:38 and encouraged me until I did
21:40 and I held my daughter for close to an hour.
21:42 Nurse told me, "Put your thumb right here by her heart,
21:46 and when you stop feeling that, you call us and let us know."
21:51 And just put me in a corner by myself in a rocking chair.
21:54 Let me tell you, when I felt my daughter's heart
21:56 finally stopped beating,
21:58 I started to pray and asked God to resurrect my child.
22:04 And let me tell you, it wasn't for a lack of faith
22:07 in what God can do,
22:08 I believed 100% that God would restore my child's heartbeat,
22:14 place breath back in her lungs and that she would live.
22:17 She didn't, I ended up burying that child.
22:20 But we need to understand, as I said,
22:24 stop labeling people and attaching measures F words
22:28 and faith and believe and all that, God is God.
22:32 And we need to accept what God allows,
22:35 and we need to allow God to be God.
22:37 There will be a day when we will understand.
22:40 The unanswered why, the inexplicable how,
22:43 the ambiguous so what, and all the of this stuff
22:47 will be remedied in eternity, you know?
22:49 So I want to speak specifically to the person
22:52 that's going through that kind of loss,
22:55 that kind of struggle, that kind of hurt,
22:58 wherein is the lack of closure
23:00 that's persecuting you, it's okay, it's okay.
23:04 Let it go, let God be God.
23:08 And let us all look forward to that.
23:10 I'm looking forward to it, you're looking...
23:12 I know you are. Amen.
23:14 You know, where everything will be made right
23:18 and we'll understand
23:19 why God allowed whatever it is
23:22 that He allowed to happen.
23:24 There are many times I'm called by a member
23:26 for counseling one area
23:27 or the other relative to loss, I'm speechless.
23:33 What do I say to a mother
23:35 who has just lost her 16-year old child
23:38 before he's even really experience,
23:40 you know, life in this world.
23:43 I had one, not so very long ago,
23:47 was lost by an auto accident, simple auto accident.
23:50 You know, it could be any of our children, you know?
23:54 We lose children, we lose spouses,
23:55 we lose parents.
23:57 But the church, and especially us as men,
24:00 we need to be real.
24:02 Yes. We need to be real.
24:05 Don't hide behind doctrines and cultures of doctrines
24:09 and who's got faith and who doesn't have faith.
24:13 Jesus Himself say
24:15 while He was there in the garden
24:16 bearing your sin and mine and it was crushing Him,
24:18 "Father, if it be possible..."
24:21 Why did he ask that?
24:23 Why did he ask God for an option?
24:27 Because he didn't want to see you with the pain.
24:29 Pain was...
24:30 It was excruciating. Yeah. His blood.
24:33 So if our Savior can express that level of vulnerability,
24:39 that level of humanness,
24:42 what about you? What about me?
24:44 And I was looking at a mother,
24:47 sitting on the porch with her son,
24:51 they're just sitting there having a good time.
24:53 Someone drive by, bang, shots rang out.
24:56 She escaped, but her son lying there, dead.
25:01 And then here I am,
25:02 what am I going to say to that mother?
25:04 What can I say to that mother?
25:06 I can just look, I can just be there,
25:08 you know, because again,
25:10 we are living in a broken society
25:12 and because we're broken,
25:14 because sin has made this world so broken,
25:17 we just need to be there to be a support and be real,
25:21 just be real with the support that we give.
25:23 And I think, that's critical
25:24 because no matter what kind of loss you've experienced,
25:27 you know, a loss is a loss.
25:30 Grief is something
25:33 that we were never meant to experience,
25:34 you know, as working in an hospice for a while,
25:38 that's something that I had to make sense of
25:40 for people that I counseled.
25:42 I don't even understand it.
25:45 But grief is something that is beyond us.
25:49 Yet God, in His infinite mercy
25:51 and grace finds a way to help us understand
25:55 little by little, maybe not everything,
25:57 but little by little why certain things happened.
26:01 And grief is just something that unfortunately,
26:04 we're going to have to deal with
26:05 until He comes back again.
26:08 I don't know...
26:10 Anything else that you would like to add?
26:11 Oh, yeah.
26:13 Yeah, definitely, on the practical side.
26:15 We are not magicians, some of us are gifted
26:19 or fortunate enough to have multiple skills,
26:23 but we don't have everything.
26:25 Every pastor should be skilled in the ability to refer.
26:31 Know your resource population, know your resource population.
26:36 And so you may not be a psychologist
26:40 or you may not be a licensed social worker
26:44 or a counselor who say that you can deal with...
26:47 Every, you know, nuance of mental health need,
26:51 but at least know the resources of your community
26:55 so that when a member comes to you
26:58 or maybe does not come to you
27:00 but you observe,
27:02 then be able to either meet that person
27:05 where they are and say to them,
27:07 you know, "This is where you can get help."
27:10 I appreciate everything you guys have shared,
27:12 and it's such a deep topic
27:16 for the people, for the fathers,
27:20 for everyone who is watching.
27:22 Grief as a father,
27:24 whether you've gone through the loss of a marriage,
27:27 loss of a spouse, any type of loss,
27:29 you're a man,
27:31 you're not God, you're not perfect.
27:34 It's okay to cry and sharing the brokenness.
27:38 As pastors, that are out there watching,
27:40 create an environment of sharing
27:43 with your brothers and sisters,
27:44 specifically with the men in the church,
27:47 showing that even Jesus wept and Jesus bore our sins
27:51 so that we can have this community of believers
27:54 in which we can share our grief.
27:57 And, fathers, don't be afraid to show your kids you can cry.
28:00 Thank you for watching.