My Dad, My Friend by Nate Collins – Real Stories for January 2013

profile-picI was 19 years old when I decided to tell my dad about my struggle with SSA. Actually, “decided” isn’t quite the right word to use. I had just finished my first year at community college, and was living at home. We were in the middle of an argument, and the words exploded out of my mouth: “Do you really think you understand me? You don’t even know me! I think I might be a homosexual!”

By this time, my dad and I had actually managed to become friends, if not close friends. I’m the oldest of three boys, but my younger brothers’ hobbies and interests were closer to my dad’s than mine. So he tended to spend more time with them than with me. In some ways I was the stereotypical “sensitive” kid, and since my dad had “anger problems,” I tended to spend more time with my mom. To this day, I still enjoy playing piano, cooking, and long, deep conversations. But I was also an outgoing kid with a driven personality, and today I enjoy just about any outdoor activity—especially beach volleyball!

A pivotal point in my life happened when I turned 11. My family had spent the past three years as missionaries in South America, and just returned to the States for our first furlough. While hearing English sermons again, I started feeling true conviction for my sin for the first time, and placed my faith and trust in Jesus.

That year was also important for my dad, although I could have easily missed it. I began noticing sheets of paper taped to my parents’ bathroom mirror with Bible verses about anger printed on them. I asked my mom about them, and she said my dad was dealing with some conviction of his own regarding his anger. I knew that he had been deeply hurt by his dad’s anger towards him, but I hadn’t heard him talk about it much.

Over the next few years, I saw a gradual transformation in my dad. At 15, my dad called my brothers and me, individually, into his office and apologized in tears for the ways his anger had affected our relationship. At that unforgettable moment, my dad became my friend, and our friendship has been growing ever since.

When I shared my struggle with my dad, he made it clear that his love for me hadn’t changed. I never doubted that he was proud of the man I was becoming, but our interactions at home still felt somewhat awkward. After I confided in him, I sensed God calling me to move out of the house and go to a Bible college over 1000 miles away. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Bible college was life-changing. I discovered the safety and freedom of authentic, Christian friendship. The web of pain and rejection that had ensnared my sense of self-worth slowly weakened as I found solace in a deeper relationship with Christ. By graduation, I was engaged to a beautiful, Godly woman (we’ve now been married for eight years), and looking forward to continuing my education at seminary.

Life has had its ups and downs since then, but God has ALWAYS been faithful through everything. My dad’s journey has also brought him farther along in dealing with the pain of his childhood. Today, he is one of my best friends, in large part because he and I have been willing to keep peeling back “one more layer” of pain and hurt together.

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