Fatherlessness, part 2
So, tomorrow is Kiera and Kisi’s wedding and here I am at home, like a nervous mother, rehearsing details and schedules. Yesterday we went to meet with our pastor, Jeff, and it moved me so, I figured I’d write about it. Neither Kisi’s nor Keira’s fathers are coming to the wedding. For years, I have watched Keira’s emotional swings between hope and disappointment regarding her father. I’ve met him once, and it was at the same time he met a grown daughter of his own for the first time (not Keira). I was staggered and still knew that this is common in their culture. Men bounce between jail, their mother and the current mother of their latest child. I have seen it again and again. (Most of my reading in this area has come from Ruby Payne, who I know is controversial in some circles, but whose writing has helped me tremendously.)
Kisi has been like lots of grooms, pretty hands-off on the wedding plans, deferring to Keira’s wishes except in two areas: He wants to wear a tux and he doesn’t want to see his bride before she walks down the aisle. I was curious to know how he would respond to Jeff and our meeting to plan the day. Jeff was his warm, inviting self and towers over us all at 6 foot-something-big.
Jeff asked Kisi why he wanted to marry Keira. Kisi told him of how much he realized they had together when Keira stuck with him during a difficult time, and when their daughter was born. Jeff affirmed Kisi’s decision to marry and admitted when he married young, his friends chided him. “When you’re ready, you’re ready,” Jeff said. And Kisi nodded, saying his friends had also wondered why he would settle down so young. Then Jeff told him he was proud of him.
It was as if Jeff’s blessing inflated Kisi’s chest two-fold. He had a confidence that neither Keira nor his mother could ever give him. It had to come from another man, even better an older, wiser, godly man who knows 22-years of marriage. Jeff went on to challenge them to fight the great dividers of oneness in marriage: family members, money and sex. (Later Keira told me she couldn’t believe a pastor would talk about sex! I laughed, and said he must have some experience after all these years with his beautiful Katie.)
Jeff told Kisi to follow him on the wedding day–the two of them would be up there together, just follow him. Again, Kisi’s confidence soared. I couldn’t believe what 30 minutes with a godly man did to Kisi. I was flabbergasted really. Tonight, I was thinking of Donald Miller’s book To Own a Dragon about growing up without a father. In his story, Donald tells of how a youth pastor recognized his gift with words and humor and encouraged him to write, beginning with the youth group newsletter. Now, Donald is a NY Times bestselling author. And he has started a mentoring program for boys. Only men invited to mentor.
I’m not saying that Kisi is about to become a pastor or that one visit with one will change his life. I’m just thinking about what an army of men can do for the future of the fatherless. I saw just a glimpse.
(Editor’s note: Don Miller paid me no money to endorse his program. I’ve met him multiple times and always enjoyed his speaking, esp. about the role of story. Sadly, he does not remember our meeting and has yet to call me for a date.)