[serialposts]As I read through this chapter, I couldn’t help but to revisit my adolescence. Growing up, most gang members I knew and befriended were cool, quite funny, and often even sentimental. Definitely different than the picture you see painted in music videos, on the news, or in violent “street” movies. My friends were hustlers by night and students by day. Most were fatherless, all were extremely protective of me, and some considered themselves religious. I suppose the choice to befriend them came from both my curiosity and my own “daddy issues”.

His heart is a mixed bag of rage and rejection, desiring both belonging and rebellion.

It has always been my deepest pleasure to discover and bring out the softness from within a harsh male. This created some unhealthy relationships and even deeper issues in how I relate to Christ. When I finally saw Him as strong, somewhat argumentative, and a rebel to be reckoned with, then I began to find Him attractive and beneficial to my life. The God of the Old Testament seemed more up my alley. Shot caller, fiery, all powerful, with moments of softness and compassion after being pleaded with… that was my kind of God.  I wanted a God played by Bobby De Niro. I wanted to be the wife of a mobster. I wanted to be respected and protected, served and known wherever I went. like I said, “daddy issues”.

A fatherless boy looks to anyone who will accept him and be proud of him. The boy continually seeks validation as a man.

But these boys, endeavoring to prove themselves as men, weren’t so different from me. They desired the tightness and security of family. They wanted to be known and respected.  In Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale,  the neighborhood boss, Sonny was asked “Would you rather be feared or loved?” His answer echos the heart of the fatherless gang … “I’d rather be feared, because fear lasts longer than love.” The complexity of this particular gangster story is definitely different than most. A good father is present. A good father is fighting for the attention, love and respect of his son. The neighborhood is shouting “the working man is a sucker!” The neighborhood is telling him that his father is a sucker.

I had a father, an imperfect but good God-fearing father. Throughout my life, I’ve felt the fight of my heavenly father for my attention, my love, and my respect. He’s fought with His goodness, His patience, His compassion, and His unmatchable strength. There was a season in my life when I wondered if Jesus was a sucker. Many of my friends also wondered the same thing and having not known Him, most concluded that He was.

“…Our intense resentment of fathers is less a result of his presence than of his absence. We abhor him in part because we do not know him.” David Blankenhorn


[fatherless generation] chapter 4: the fatherless gang

by Julia Swodeck time to read: 2 min