by Andrew McQuitty

This content is part of a series.

Forgiving an AWOL Father (15 of 17)
E. Andrew McQuitty

Introduction: Many bear the scars from AWOL dads. . .

A. Reunion, Pt. 1: John McDaniel is a 49 year old drifter who left his wife and 3 year old son in Aurora, Ill. back in 1975. His own father had left him and his mom alone when he was 13. Now he did the same and never looked back. That little boy, named John Earl, grew up fatherless and troubled. He was later kicked out of high school, knocked around the west coast where he fathered a baby he's only seen in photographs, and moved to Texas where he got involved in drugs. The last time John Earl had seen his dad was when he was three years old. That is, until a few months ago. Both men, father and son, drifted back to Illinois broke and homeless to seek shelter at the Wayside Cross Rescue Mission while they looked for work. It was pure chance that one evening they stood outside the mission and struck up a conversation about Rockford, Ill,, a nearby city where they'd both had relatives a long time ago. John Earl asked the older man if he'd ever run across a man named John McDaniel. Do I know him? Mr. Starr said. I sure do. That's me. John Earl was stunned. He wanted to hit the older man, his hair now gray and his belly hanging over his belt. But all he could say was, I think you're my father. It was Mr. McDaniel's turn to be stunned. He looked at the stocky young man in front of him and stuck out his hand. John Earl turned on his heels and said, I liked you better before I knew you were my dad.

B. Some of you, like John Earl McDaniel, know what it's like to be victimized by an AWOL father. Oh, maybe your father never actually deserted or abused you. But perhaps he was absent without leave nonetheless, distanced from you emotionally or spiritually or physically. You might even still carry the scars of his rejection. If that's true, one of the most important steps for you to take in life is that of forgiveness. We learn that from the experience of A ...

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