I think I thought he was a super hero. He was a gift from God and stepped into our lives just when we needed him. Mom and I were both battle scarred from a couple of years of drama and trauma. He brought stability and security to a situation that was anything but. Mom and I were catching our breath. We’d suffered abuse and desperately wanted to leave it in the past. He was mourning the loss of his child - an only son. We were hurting and he was hurting… but together… the healing began.
At first it was hard for him to look at me. My blonde hair and button nose were a painful reminder of the blonde boy he had lost. Too many emotions - feelings he did not want to resurface. I was hungry for the heart and hug of a father. He missed having a son to love. The connection was instant - He fell in love with me and I fell in love with him.
He was the kind of dad every kid wanted - the kind of friend every kid needed. Patient, caring, kind… sensitive to the needs of kid who had come from a broken home. Most importantly, he was there. There to do the little things that mattered most. Mature enough to be a parent, but not too old to be a kid when necessary. He wasn’t just my friend, he was my friends’ friend. He didn’t just do the things we liked to do, he actually liked doing the things we did -- whiffle ball, football, shooting army men off an electric train with rubber bands, even creating make-believe radio shows on a cassette recorder.
He taught me the art of the practical joke - rubber dog dew, whoopee cushions, and buckets of water strategically balanced above open doors. Life took on promise and anticipation of adventure. And through it all I began to experience something I couldn’t describe, but something my heart desperately longed for - “Home.” Each night he would hug me, kiss me, tuck me into bed and whisper the words, “Night, night, sleep tight, wake up right, morning light, pleasant dreams.”
I was a timid, anxious, frightened little boy when he walked into my world, and into my world he began to impart faith, hope and love - and of course the greatest of these… was love. Fear transformed into laughter, anxiety was replaced by creativity, timidity began to put on confidence. I was not flesh of his flesh or bone of his bone, but so much of him became part of me.
He was a gracious man, understanding the difficult dynamic of a blended family. He loved me as his very own son and yet kept that inch of distance, that my father might step up and fulfill his paternal role. At times I had an emotional tug-of-war going on inside of me. I felt almost guilty for loving the “super hero” too much. Sometimes I wanted to be Robby Shaffer instead of Robby Morton. Did that mean that I was betraying my Father?
Sometimes I was angry and confused. My real dad, because of an alcohol addiction, couldn’t be the father I wanted him to be. My step dad, because of different genetic strands, couldn’t be my father.
Years of acquired wisdom and emotional maturity have helped me make peace with the situation. And I accept that things are what they are. My father was the dad he had the capacity to be. The superhero, in many, if not most ways…was and is… my dad.
We live in a world stained by sin, and the free will of we fallible, humans often distorts what is God’s ideal. But God’s promises extend beyond our fallen nature. Sometimes we waste a lot of time wondering why things aren’t the way we thought they should be. The Bible says that our God will provide all of our needs through His riches in Christ Jesus. Maybe if some people stopped trying to figure out what they think they need, they might just figure out… like I did - that God already gave them what they needed.