When I was a little boy my sister Peggy told me that I loved the cartoon “Popeye”. She said I would beg to watch it all the time which drove some of my brothers and sisters nuts. When I got my way, I would cuddle up next to one of my seven siblings in our living room and watch intently. I’m told that after the cartoon was done, I would run around the house copying him and showing off how strong I was. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a big fan of spinach back then, but the affinity for that glorious vegetable came later in life. As a matter of fact, my wife makes fun of me and my heavy intake of spinach. I consume it in at least one of my meals every day and I have been caught eating it straight out of my bag like someone would a bag of chips.
As I matured into my early twenties, I started to look a little more like the sailor man. I was focused on becoming a Major Leaguer and I worked out in the weight room at least six days per week for a minimum of two hours each session. My forearm workouts became legendary amongst my friends and I could curl more with my forearms than they could with their biceps. My goal of getting to the big leagues pushed me harder than any trainer ever could. It was my passion, which made all of the hard work and sacrifices worth every second of pain I endured. Eventually my playing career ended in the minor leagues, but the work ethic I picked up in the weight room benefited me in all areas of my life.
A few nights ago, I was sitting in a lawn chair on my patio praying and looking at the stars. This is a really difficult time for many of us and I am having a bit of an identity crisis of my own. Our business is barely making any money right now and my income from being an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University goes away at the end of this month. I’ll submit my resume for college coaching jobs when they open, but I still have a desire to be in pro baseball and who knows if anyone is going to hire me? As I continued to go down this road I realized that God is in control and I am working for Him. He will take care of my family. It led me to think about who I am and what my identity is.
I am a Son
I was born back in the Summer of 1973 to Thomas and Patricia Horton. They raised me with strong moral values that included family, faith and respect for others. My father served in the military and we flew the flag in our backyard every day that the weather would allow in the great state of Michigan. I grew up in the Catholic church, was an altar boy, and attended the school that was affiliated with our church. I felt a strong connection with God and this is where my relationship with Him started. When my parents split up for good in 1987, my world was rocked and the family stability I once deeply cared about was shattered and torn. I felt lost, confused and angry.
I continued to attend the Catholic church, but in my mid-twenties I started to question things. I strayed away from the church for a little while and made some bad mistakes. Eventually my brother Tommy stepped in with a NIV Study Bible. That Christmas gift changed my life. I began to consume the word of God and understood it better. I started to surround myself with Christian men, repented from my sinful ways and got baptized. I began to read books by Christian authors like John Eldredge and realized that God is my true father and I can speak to him like I would to my own Dad. God became my “Daddy” and now we talk on a daily basis. I ask Him for wisdom and forgiveness often and my new goal in life is to be the best example I can to others of His son Jesus.
I am a Husband
This coming May I will have been married to Taleen for 13 years. Like myself she is a child of our Almighty God and He has given me the opportunity to take care of her. You see God blessed me with His daughter and it is my job to be a good steward of what His has blessed me with. It goes beyond simply providing for her financially, which by the way I am doing a bang-up job right now with that. I need to be her emotional support; a place she can go to when she is scared or just needs to vent about what is going on. I admit I am not very good at this, but I am working on it. I tend to be more black and white and try to just fix the situation which ends up causing more friction. Any other of you guys do that?! My wife prays for a little more “gray” and a lot more compassion from me. I will get there someday.
The movie “Jerry Maguire” debuted in theaters over twenty years ago, which makes me feel a little old. The famous line that has been repeated thousands upon thousands of times by lovebirds all over the globe was, “You complete me.” If you just threw up a little bit in your mouth its ok, you’re a guy. I happen to not believe that a person will ever complete anyone for this reason alone: If that so-called person leaves, through personal decision or death, that makes you incomplete. Taleen complements me in every way imaginable, but she does not complete me. Jesus does. Only He can fill the void inside you, and He will never leave you, nor forsake you regardless of the decisions you make in life. That alone should give you peace and security.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified of the, for the LORD your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.”Dueteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
I am a Father
Two of the best days of my life both happened in the Fall of 2008 and 2010. That is when God blessed Taleen and I with Connor (now 11) and Bryce (9). I noticed that whenever I asked a pregnant couple about if they wanted a girl or a boy, they seemed to almost always give me the same answer; “We just want the baby to be healthy.” That wasn’t me. When someone asked, I straight up told them that I want a healthy baby BOY! I prayed over Taleen’s womb when she was pregnant the first time and asked God for a son. I didn’t do it because I needed to live my lack of a big league career through him. I asked because I wanted to have the opportunity to obtain the father-son relationship that I lost out on when my parents split.
My Dad lived for 14 more years after the divorce. I did the math a while back and in those 14 years, I spent less than one year’s time with him. We talked once per week and I would visit him every year for two weeks up until the day he passed away. We didn’t build a strong relationship, so I rarely went to him for advice. This made it really hard when I became a father, because I had no idea what I was doing. When Taleen became pregnant the second time I prayed again for a healthy son. My two older brothers were 10 and 14 years older than me, so I didn’t get the chance to experience having a brother close in age. I wanted two boys who could grow up together and become best buds. They fight an equal amount, but I’m told that’s normal…
I tell people that being a father is the best and hardest job that you will ever have. Being consistent is the key and following through on what you say. I have heard before that a child views God the same way they view their father. If they grow up with an overbearing and abusive Dad, they see may think of God as the Old Testament smiter who strikes people down. If their Dad shows love, kindness and grace they see their father in heaven as a God who is the same. Which one do you think they will run to when they are hurting or when times are tough? It is our job as fathers to emulate the latter depiction of God so our children will see Him as He truly is: the loving, caring daddy with His arms always open for them to run to.
Here are some things for you to ponder this week and apply to your life:
- What defines you as a man?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your priorities in life?
- How can you be a more understanding and caring husband or boyfriend?
- If you have children, think of who you would want as a Dad and become that person.
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