Last week, I shared the story of How I Found Out That God Exists. I’m continuing my story of transformation by sharing another significant change in my life which happened before I was born again. This was how I started to stop stealing.
If you read last week’s post, you know by now that I regularly shoplifted and stole from my parents as a child. I felt terrible about this and tried to stop, but I felt like I couldn’t. I thought about suicide, but I was afraid that I would go to hell if I killed myself.
One of the hardest times was when I was in fourth grade. My dad was working third shift to try to make ends meet. I missed him. Dads mean a lot to kids. My brother and I thought that whatever our dad did was cool. That’s how I started eating lots of hot sauce with my food. My dad liked spicy food, so I thought it was “manly” to pour on the hot sauce.
Besides the stealing, I hated school. Most of the kids there were mean to me. I was angry and miserable, and often had fits of rage. I wished I could kill all the bad people.
My mom and dad didn’t know what to do. My behavior had deteriorated to the point that they didn’t know how to handle me.
They asked my grandmother “What should we do?” She gave them some wise advice. “Why don’t you see if Jan can pick him up from school during the lunch break and spend some time with him?”
So they arranged with the school for me to spend lunch and recess with my father. I loved it! It was a big relief to get away from the school for an hour. And I hadn’t realized how much I missed my dad.
It especially meant a lot to me when my dad took me out to eat and bought me a sub. We lived on a shoestring budget and almost never went out to eat, so this was something really special to me.
I stopped taking money from my dad’s wallet, and my behavior improved. I was still technically stealing from him, since he was the breadwinner and I continued to sneak money from my mom’s purse. But it was an emotional decision, not a rational one. I felt like I loved my dad too much to continue stealing money from his wallet. I couldn’t anymore. I also stopped losing my temper as frequently.
The Importance Of Dads
Research shows that fatherlessness is highly correlated to every imaginable social ill, including substance abuse, promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, violence, poor performance in school, dropping out of school, infant mortality, risk of asthma, early behavior problems, drug trafficking, incarceration, poverty, and suicide. (For statistics see fathers.com, fatherhoodfactor.com, and The Fatherless Generation blog.) I’m glad that even though our family was going through a rough time, my dad found a way to be there when I needed him.
Studying the devastating effects of fatherlessness has inspired me. It shows me how much of a long-lasting difference we can make in the world just by loving kids and being there for them. Spending time with kids is one of the best ways to change the world.
I began to do volunteer work with children as a teenager, and I have now volunteered with children in several countries. Some other week I’ll write about the plight of Russian orphans and my experience with them.
But next week I’ll continue my story of redemption by sharing how I was born again. I began to do better when my dad spent time with me, but it was only when Jesus gave me a new heart that I completely stopped stealing and was delivered from the spirits of anger and depression that tormented me.