Thomas was like a big brother to me. I fulfilled the counter role very well, annoying him every chance I got. When I’d get under his skin he’d retaliate in a humble manner that was disarming, but his words would hit your core.
He always tried to steer me in the right direction in life and my spiritual journey. It was only right when I had gotten engaged I go to him for some sound advice.
My search for guidance was very specific. This amazing woman had two, young, wonderful boys. Not yet having any children of my own I had become very focused on how to become a great step-father. I sat down with Thomas and asked the questions straight out, “What must I do to become a great step-dad?”
Thomas is a genuine brother, and an experienced step-father. I’ve had the privilege of meeting two of his children and saw the impact he had in their lives. They both adored this man, with no regard for his sentence of twenty-five years to life for murder.
He wasn’t a father who could physically be at the big games, graduations, or there when they received their first broken hearts. He read about them in letters, and saw pictures of those magic moments, always cheering and encouraging them on from his space inside Attica Prison.
Witnessing his ability to so dramatically influence those tender lives from the inside out, I was confident he had answers I needed.
My brother could be somewhat long-winded at times, as many wise men can be, but this time it was simple. “To be a good step-father you have to take the ‘step’ out of it and love them like they are your own.”
The words as he spoke them sounded poetic. There was no elaboration necessary.
That truth struck my nervous heart, but loving an extension of my soon to be wife would come easily.
Becoming a father is quite the call. It requires tremendous patience, the ability to be creative, and able to handle criticism. It requires sacrifice and time- just about all of it. I have learned to become supportive more than ever before.
I was nervous because I had no example of how to be a father, mine had been mostly absent. I’ve lived with a fear that I would make the same mistakes my father did. I didn’t want to be present but absent emotionally. I want to be able to support my family financially. I often pray that God blesses me with a selfless heart so that I have the ability to place my wife and children’s needs before my own.
After all, true JOY is…Jesus, Others, Yourself