He Is the Father to the Fatherless

Chris BrownBy Chris Brown7 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Restored: Transforming the Sting of Your Past into Purpose for Today by Chris Brown

Chapter 9
He Is the Father to the Fatherless

My dad’s interest in me left as quickly as it came when he found out I wasn’t going to a big college. So, I guess the pride associated with those no-hitters and a possible Division I college had worn off. That’s the hard thing about people who are in your life for what you can do. You always have to be achieving more to keep them interested. And every time you achieve a new accolade, you secretly hope that this will be the time they are proud enough of you to stick with the relationship. I wanted that so desperately from my dad. I wanted him to show up and teach me all the things I desperately needed to know at that time in my life. Like how to open a bank account, how to budget my money, how to change a flat tire, how to change the oil in my car. But again, it didn’t happen. So I just stuffed all those hopes back down and convinced myself that I didn’t care. I was used to him not being involved, and I would just consider it a bonus when he did care. That was my perception of fathering. Make money and share it when you feel like it. Care occasionally. Care when your kids deserve for you to care.

I had no idea what it meant to be at college, especially a Christian one. I found out later that Christian college means a lot of things, but one of the main things is that it has tighter rules than other colleges. There are curfews and things you aren’t allowed to do. You have to clean your room and show up to class and not party. I had never in my life had a curfew or many rules for that matter. But I wasn’t worried. I just thought of college as being like going to military school. How bad could it be? I’d catch on quickly, or so I thought.

I almost got kicked out several times during my first semester, once for toilet papering the campus with a couple of guys I barely knew. I know that sounds so cheesy now, but it was the nineties, and toilet papering was a big thing then. My baseball coach met me as I was leaving the dean’s office after being told I was on the last straw; one more misstep and I’d be packing my bags and heading home. Coach got an inch from my face and quietly yet forcefully stated through his clenched jaw, “Chris, you are sticking with me from here on out. If I go to the cafeteria, you go to the cafeteria. If I go to my office, you go to my office. If I go to the bathroom, you go to the bathroom.” I basically spent my entire first year of college holding on to the belt loop of my baseball coach, trying my darnedest not to get expelled.

Between the disappointment of Dad’s interest in me fading again and striving to be good so I could last at college, I began to discover this Jesus everyone seemed to talk about so much. I liked what the coaches and teachers told me he was about. I liked that they said I didn’t have to try so hard with him. I felt comforted when they explained that he knew all the darkest parts of my past— parts I never would have put down on paper— and was still interested in me. I liked that although this place was loaded with rules, Jesus seemed to be pretty cool. He wasn’t afraid of people who had some dark parts they were trying to hide. I began to take small steps toward this God by simply opening up my mind to the possibility of his existence. Every time I took a step and opened my mind just a little more, I felt better inside. Less angst, more peace. Less striving, more acceptance. Less dark inside, more hope for a better future. Less longing, more satisfaction.

It wasn’t long before I hunted down an upperclassman and asked him what being a Christian really meant. Everything he explained, I wanted. I wanted to trade my darkness for God’s light in my life. I wanted guidance from someone much bigger than me. I realized as he spoke that everything I was longing for in my earthly father, Jesus was. He was interested. He showed up. He stayed. He chose me. I longed so deeply for my dad to be these things, but he just wasn’t. He was never going to be. But Jesus was. Jesus was who I needed most. I needed Jesus more than I needed my dad.

After that early-morning conversation with the upper-classman, I had an opportunity during our daily campus chapel to go forward to the speaking platform and let the faculty know that I wanted to fully accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I gave my heart to Jesus. I told him, “I don’t understand all of this, but I understand enough to know that you are God and that I need you in my life.” I asked him to simply teach me the rest as we went.

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