top of page
Search

Redemption...

(Ok… this is about a 10 min read… but it’s Christmas!)


I started my life in a seemingly middle class family… I remember my primary days consisting of private school and church… I remember bountiful Christmases and we had what we needed.


I was the youngest of three kids for the better part of my life and I guess you could say I was my mother’s Joseph… I was the baby and I knew it…


Growing up in the 80’s was simple and tangible… life was friends and family to me… I spent most of my summers riding my bike and playing pick-up games of baseball with friends at the park… life moved a mile a minute… and I loved it…


Somewhere between the innocence of my primary years and my teens my dad lost his job… he had a reputation of pushing boundaries for selfish advantage… and it caught up with him…. I believe the story I was told had to do with how unfair he was treated and that transferring him would be better for us all… my life forever changed through that as he lead us all on a long painful journey of “it’s everyone else’s fault”… but it was always at our expense…


After my dad was transferred… he was fired… he sued the company and won… I remember the wait took months to receive recompense… and we suffered… my bike rides and friends became a form of escape to remove myself from the stress in the home…


The previous years of blaming others and failures lead us to the projects… low-income, subsidized rent and food stamps were an easier life for him… he didn’t care about how it affected his family… he wanted easy…


I was always the giver… the gullible one… always the optimist… so, when I became old enough to work… my dad leveraged it… to his advantage…


One day he approached me and said, “Mike… you should get a job… “ i remember thinking “I’m in school…. How would that work?…” he went on to say… “it would be good for you… it’ll teach you things about life…” that sounded like sound advice so I started applying…

I got a job as a dishwasher… I worked a lot… as well as going to school… as I continued to work… my dad saw it as a resource… which I believe was his plan from the start… in order to keep the family afloat financially and to support his life of excuses on why he couldn’t provide… he sat me down again and persuaded me to give him my paychecks to help with the families expenses… I was glad to help in the beginning… but as time passed… I began to see the lack of reward and the dichotomy of my life… I felt like a slave…

The pressures were so much that I chose to drop out of school at 16 under the guise of “homeschooling” it never really happened… my mom was dealing with her own defenses and abuse… and I’ve never blamed her for it…


Being “free” from school allowed me three things… I could sleep more… play guitar more… and work more… however, my dad pressed the third option hard…


A couple years passed and we moved west to Wisconsin… my dad had over played his hand… and again… we were promised another golden land of opportunity… with yet another disappointment on the horizon…


The new location lead to a new job and I immediately began working in retail… I was still a Coastie at heart… and loved the sea coast theme and fashion… I would buy mens fashion magazines and use the scented samples to blend into my social circles… I saw value when people would compliment me… on how I looked and smelled… I felt accepted… and fake…


The retail store I worked at was very influenced by the coastal fashion… one weekend they received a new line… including a navy blue pea coat… I saw it… and wanted it… my friends encouraged me to buy it… but I knew my dad wouldn’t approve… he controlled me with a strong arm… any spending had to be approved… (however, he could decide to not pay bills and get us evicted)…


After wrestling with the thought… I decided that i had never rewarded myself… I couldn’t even buy new shoes… everything I owned was from thrift stores… and I was tired of it…

I understood that my value was in my appearance… however, I justified the purchase and I ran with it… I bought the jacket… it took half of my paycheck… but I believed that I deserved it…


That evening I came home with the remaining amount of my paycheck… usually, I would sign the check over to my dad so he would be sure that he could get every penny… but, this time, I gave him cash…


His immediate response was to say “Michael… where’s the rest of it?…” I shuddered in fear… his eyes became dark and angry… he stood up towering over me… “Michael, where’s the rest of it!”… “we have bills to pay… how are we supposed to feed your brothers and sisters?!… did you spend it?!… you selfish punk… what did you buy?…”


Usually, he would search my room to find the things I would occasionally acquire and destroy them so I would learn to fear him… but this was too valuable… instead he went to my room… found the coat in the bag and we walked to the bus stop… my family didn’t have a car for most of my teen years… it was a little embarrassing… my dad stormed to the bus stop yelling at me to keep up with him…


His goal was to humiliate me… he would keep raising his voice for the duration of the bus ride… I felt like I was naked… his opinions and feelings were very public…

We arrived at the mall and he stormed into the store… already yelling at my coworker that was behind the register… “We are returning this NOW!…” he yelled… I stood there as white as a sheet… my coworker went to get the manager… who obviously recognized me with a surprised look on her face… they returned the coat and gave my dad the money… and just like that… he was joking and smiling…


The bus ride home was silent…


The next day… my store manager called me in an hour early to work and fired me… she said that her employees felt threatened by my dad and it was in their best interest…

I came home in a state of failure and dread… how was I supposed to tell my dad?… I was afraid… I was shaking… I walked in the door… the lights were off and the tv was on… my dad was sitting in his large 70’s style orange and green striped recliner… his head turned… I said “I’m sorry, dad… I was fired today…” he replied “well… you’d better have another job by tomorrow…” so, I left again and started putting in applications that evening…


The loss of my job was another loss of a piece of my identity… I was slowly succumbing to the life of a slave… unable to acquire anything… my life was a forced sacrifice to my dad… and I couldn’t escape it…


For the next 24 years I lived like this… I married a woman who was just like my dad… I was a slave… controlled and manipulated… but that life ended when her life ended… and by the mercies of God I remarried… this came with 3 more kids and one more between us… my new wife has never once treated me like a slave… however… that has continued to be how I’ve seen myself… a slave… owned by debt… bills… needs… I still felt trapped…


This year, Christmas was a challenge… we decided to focus on experiences and not as much on large amounts of gifts… this is definitely difficult in a large family of givers… but I wanted to encourage relationship as a family… especially as my kids are all becoming adults and moving on…


My personal struggles and setbacks were at an all time high and I shielded my family from my feelings to make the season merry and bright… for them… so, I loved on them… had fun and laughed… the more I did… the better I felt… there is nothing more important to me than my family… every single one of them are so precious to me… I would do anything for them…


The gift giving was short and coming to an end… the night was chaotic and fun… my oldest son jumped up with excitement and told me to close my eyes… he ran downstairs and then quickly returned, I imagine, skipping every 3 steps as he does…


I heard a rustling sound as he got closer… the chatter in the room began to increase in volume… he said with glee in his voice “ok… now open your eyes!!”… it was a hanger with a bag on it… I thought immediately “they bought me a sport coat?”…


As I began to remove the white plastic cover… my wife said “they all chipped in on this”… my kids were all grinning from ear to ear with anticipation…


As the plastic came off it revealed a charcoal grey pea coat… I was a bit shocked… that wasn’t on my radar at all… they all started cheering me to try it on… i slowly put my first arm in… and as the second arm came to the sleeves end, I could feel the emotions start to rise… like a knot in my throat… I composed myself quickly… and removed the coat… I hung it back on the hanger… and said in a tight voice “thank you”…


But as I spoke the words… 24 years of hurt came out like lancing a boil and I fell into deep quiet tears… I couldn’t speak… I hated the feeling of crying in front of my kids… however, their reactions to my response were priceless… one by one they started tearing up as I told my story to them… needless to say… it was painful… and so needed… for all of us…

The beautiful thing about pain is that God promises to redeem it… His Word says that He redeems what the canker worm has destroyed… I never understood what that meant until I experienced it… God has this way of giving you back the things you never knew that you always wanted… in Christ you are renewed…


I hope these little snippets into my life can stand as an encouragement to you… life is about becoming and overcomer in Christ and my prayer is that my testimonies would expose the reality of what that looks like.


Michael





3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page