This year has been a year of change. I graduated from Social Work School. I became a substance abuse therapist as I ended my hope of returning to vocational ministry. I embarked on a journey towards whole body health in preparation of the end of my “young adult” years. I became a father. I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of me finishing my undergrad studies and embarking on a life changing adventure in Kenya. I look back on these past 10-years and am amazed at where I find myself.
I have not always been the best at reflection and healthy processing. My natural state is to push through the moment or risk getting bound by reflection and mired in a melancholy state of being. In this state I do not really do much of anything but regret, hope, pine, and have the occasional moment of clarity. There has been a common theme in my life that has come to my attention, the search for identity.
I have been on a quest to discover who and what I am for as long as I can remember. I am not sure if I had any solid identity growing up. I can remember ebbing and flowing amongst my friends and contemporaries likes and dislikes. I was a very impressionable youth that most aptly played parts over lived life. I tried to fit in and be affirmed by damn near anyone. As an adult I am not sure this was a bad thing. As a youth it led to a series of heartaches and many bad decisions in my quest to identify with others and find a place in this world.
In the last 10-years I have discovered my place in this world and am recently becoming comfortable with it. I have chased myself in seminary and sought to get answers in answering a call. I chased identity in a bottle and found myself struggling to understand my destructive side. I have come to grips with my battle with food and moving through the unglamorous addition to food. I have found and lost an identity as a minister. This may have been the most painful of lessons for me to learn in the past 10-years.
I discovered a depth of love that I have never known in my partner, friend, and love, Mere. I found a piece of me in marriage that I adore. And it has been this love that has delivered me to my most human of identities, fatherhood.
I have only been a father for 5 and a half months. Yet, I have dreamed of this identity for decades. In middle school I dreamed of being a husband and father. It has always been a matrix to which I have measured myself; the dream to which I lost myself in the most. Now that I am a father I dream different dreams.
I stare into my sons eyes and see my life reflected in him. I want so much for him. I want him to be compassionate, caring, and loving. All of these things I hope to model for him to learn. I want him to be happy and learn early on that happiness is an inside job and that who he is today is wonderful. That he is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s Image. I want to spare him the ills I suffered for being a chubby kid. I want him to avoid the painful humiliation of poverty. I want him to speak truth in a way that is peaceful and full of truth. I want him to appreciate the beauty of life and wander more than he searches this world for the thin places.
I would love it if he played First Base for The Los Angeles Dodgers. I would settle if he never played football or grew up. I want him to never forget that I love him dearly and that those hushed whispers of dawn were in fact my hungry heart willing my love around him. I want him to know his smile makes a bad day good and that I am proud to be his father. I want him to know that if I ever depart this moral coil early, that I will do all that is possible to watch him from afar.
My search for identity has not ceased. The shame, guilt, or woe of who and what I am, is no longer the sharp pain it was. Rather, those emotions are the currency to which I paid for travel to this place of fatherhood and I regret none of it.
I hold my son in my arms and reflect on the pride my parents had in holding me in their arms. I see the painful struggles of poverty that eventually split my parents. I see the joy in their eyes as they watch me hold my son with tears caressing their cheeks and pride illuminating theirs smiles. The hurt of my youth is not trivialized as much as it is put in to perspective. I have always been loved, even when I did not feel it nor had the ability to realize it. The search for identity was about finding a place to be loved. I had that love all along. The one thing I want my son to know is that I loved him before he was born.
I loved him when I was lost amongst the living trying to awaken to love. I loved him as he grew in his mother’s belly. I dreamed of his face as I felt his internal kicks for liberation. And now that I see him that love continues to grow. I love myself because I was a party in loving him to life. And if he doesn’t play for The Dodgers let it be anybody but the Yankees or Giants.