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The Day I Lost Trust in My Father

DDCommunity: The Day I Lost Trust in My Father

The Day Trust Departed from My Life

I remember the day I lost trust in my father. It was the very day when trust departed from my [Kirk] life – the first day of spring when I was four years old. For a long time, my father promised to build a house for us. Our house was a cement shell with rough cement floors, cinder block walls, and room dividers. We had no running water or bathroom. We depended on two wood-burning fireplaces to keep us warm in winter. When it rained, there were three leaks over my bed and five leaks altogether in the bedroom that was shared with my two brothers plus Mama and Dad too. Many a night, we awoke to rain-soaked quilts. Interestingly, it was quite comforting to return to sleep with the dripping sounds of five pans catching water.

We will move in spring.

From my description, you may think I grew up in the 1920s–1930s. Our living conditions were substandard even in rural North Carolina in the 1960s. For some time, Dad had been responding to my questions about moving with, “Well, Erk,” (this is what Dad called me), “in the spring, we will build a house and move over to the land.” “The land” was a five-acre plot that somehow my mother was able to buy and retain amid my father’s continuous drinking and gambling. With Dad’s comforting refrain consoling my heart, I would run off with thoughts of a better tomorrow when we would move into our new house – a home with heat, a roof that did not leak, and maybe even carpet. This hope kept me a bit warmer as the damp winter lumbered long with its cold.

Finally, winter gave way to the impending joy of fairer days. One morning I awoke to the most beautiful day I could ever remember. It was the kind of morning that made you feel good on the inside. I sprang from my bed and ran outside to commence an intense day of play and mischievous gallivanting. Running into the house, I almost plowed into Mama, who asked why I was so happy. I said, “I feel good today!”

The first day of spring

“Well, honey, it’s the first day of spring, and we all feel good because it is such a pretty day.”

“It’s spring!” I screamed with anticipation that had come to fulfillment. I ran through the house, telling everyone to get their stuff because today was moving day!

Mama chased me through the house, confused and somewhat amused with my flight of fancy. She grabbed me while saying, “What are you talking about?”

“Mama, it’s spring, and it’s time to move to our new house over at the land!”

What house?

Mama quickly retorted, “What house? There is no house at the land.” Mama, by this time, had grown concerned and was on her knees, making eye contact with me and holding me by the shoulders quite firmly.

“Mama,” I replied, “Dad said that in the spring, he would build us a house, and we would move. It’s spring, so let’s go!”

“Honey, your dad has not built the house yet.”

I remember not being dissuaded by such a sentiment. “So it’s not done yet,” I conceded.

There is no house.

Mama began to recognize the implications of my beliefs. She asserted very directly to me, “Kirk, there is no house. Your dad has not built a house, and that is all there is to this. We are not moving!”

All that was previously wonderful changed to the hue of awful. I was incensed to the point of rage. I yelled at Mama, pushing her backward. “You are lying! My dad can do anything!”

Moving day

I ran out the front door to where my dad was talking to his drinking buddy, Larry. I could not contain myself, so I got between them, vying desperately for Dad’s attention. Dad was too busy looking at Larry’s new Harley, which probably was purchased with all the money my dad lost at Larry’s house, gambling on cards, chicken fights, and dogfights. I could no longer wait, so I blurted out, “Dad, today is moving day! Let’s go and pack so we can move to the land!”

I remember Dad being bewildered and annoyed. “What are you talking about, little Erk?”

“You said that when spring came, we would move, and today is the first day of spring, so let’s go, Dad!”

Lies exposed

By this time, Dad was not only annoyed but also angry that I had interrupted him and embarrassed him by pointing out the fact that he had made promises he had no intention of keeping.

Dad pushed me aside. “Can’t you see I’m talking? We are not moving. I have not even cleared the land, and I have not built the house! We are not going anywhere, so leave me alone and quit bothering me!”

I was crushed. I learned that day that the man I thought was so great was a consummate liar. This was the first of many such occasions where I caught my dad lying until the day that he finally left and never came back.

I lost my willingness to trust.

But what I lost that day was more than my relationship with my dad. I lost the willingness to trust. I remember so vividly believing with complete confidence that my dad could have done anything. In my innocent mind, it would have been no big deal for him to clear the land, build the house, and move us into it – all in three short hours.

Only God is worthy of trust.

This human example illustrates the influence of trust. Even when trust is misplaced, it exerts a certain power on life that provides hope, even when believing in a lie. We choose where to place our firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Throughout life, we look to our objects of trust to provide security. Disillusioned, we stumble into the pit and believe we can trust no one but ourselves. The harm occurs when we develop a heart unwilling to trust in anything beyond ourselves and what we can control through our own efforts. In our feeble attempts to be the god of our own lives, we miss an intimate connection with the Father who is worthy of trust.

The day I lost trust in my earthly father was also the day that made it hard for me to trust my heavenly Father. It took me a long time to learn to trust in the Lord.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV

Insight Journal

  • When did I lose trust?
  • Children see God as relevant because they can trust that there is someone bigger who knows the best way to make things work out. When did I lose that concept of God?

You can read a good follow-up to this story by reading the post How Kirk Found Christ Relevant to Forgiveness. Also, Is There Anyone I Can Trust to Be Faithful? And Jennifer’s post, Trust God.

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