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Feeling the Father Void

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2021 1:00 am

Feeling the Father Void

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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November 11, 2021 1:00 am

Connecting the present with the past is good. Ray McKelvy tells his story about not knowing his real father and being the man of the house. Another father figure stepped into his life, only to then separate from his mom, and the devastation he felt left him searching for his identity.

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The Christian Worldview
David Wheaton
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green
Faith And Finance
Rob West
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts

So we did something a little bit different this year. You went to a counselor.

Yes, I did. Why did you go? Why are you bringing this up on air? I think that this is good because we both ended up going, but I think the reason is good. The relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson, and I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

You know, and he said, doesn't matter. You're doing it now, and it's a really, really good thing. And one of the things he did that I so valued was he connected my present to my past, and he walked me through my upbringing and having no dad and a single mom and the death of my brother and all these kind of things, blended family with my stepmom. And it really connected a lot of dots for me. And I felt like, again, I wish I'd done it years ago, but you know what? I did it now, and it was awesome. In fact, we both did it.

Yeah, we did. And because things happen in my past that are affecting my present. And there's something about going to the past and really talking about your story that bring things up that you realize, wow, that's still affecting me. You know, I was going to say, one of the reasons I love the show This Is Us, honestly, is because they keep connecting the present to the past. And it's like so insightful.

It's like, oh, that's why they're making the decisions. We do the exact same thing. So the good thing is today we've got the expert, Mr. Ron deals in the house. Ron is always one of my favorites because he puts you on the couch. Puts me on the couch?

Yes. Oh Ron, and me too, honestly. He's just so good at drawing things out and helping us realize this is where God is working.

And the good thing is I'm not on the couch today. I am just passing the baton over to Ron because Ron's the head of our blended family ministry at Family Life. What a privilege to have you as part of Family Life.

Really. Thank you. Your ministry is one of the best in the world.

I was going to say the country, but really the world. And so you have a podcast and you sat down with somebody that really goes back into their life. Well, wait, Ron, tell us about your podcast.

Tell us the name. Tell us how often because I have been telling everyone about this that's in a blended situation and they are raving about it and are talking about how helpful it's been. Family Life Blended is the name of the podcast. It comes out every other week, 26 per year, and we are having lots of fun. We take deep dives on a number of different subjects. And every once in a while, we like to share one of those podcasts with the Family Life Today audience, which is what we're doing today.

Yeah. So tell us, what are we going to listen to today? You know, I got to tell you, you said this is us a minute ago.

The interview that people are about to hear, I actually had an experience in the middle of the interview going, this is, this is us. Really? Because the narrative we're going to hear is from Ray and Robin McKelvey. Now, they're friends of Family Life. We love Ray and Robin. They've been on our Family Life Weekend Remember Speaker team for 25 years. Spoken on our cruise.

That's right. They do lots of great things. Ray is a pastor at a church in Nashville.

He's the lead pastor of Christ for the Nation's Church, a multi-ethnic church. They've got 10 kids, so they're busy and they do lots of things. That gives them credibility alone that you want to listen to everything they say. And I love how you said they do lots of things. They have 10 kids. Yes.

They're chasing children everywhere, even though some of them are grown at this point. Yeah, they're tremendous people. And I got to tell you what was kind of behind the scenes. Ray told me after we did this conversation about his childhood growing up in a blended family, that he connected dots to his present and his past in ways that he really hadn't in a long time. And some new insights came as we talked. And I think as people listen to this conversation, I want to invite you to do what I asked Ray to do. When we started the conversation, I asked him to tell his life story from the vantage point of being a child.

Being a young boy, a teenage boy, don't put adultisms on it. Just tell it from how you experienced it. And I got to tell you, that changes some things. Yeah, it really does.

Right? Because what it does is it forces us to go, you know what, this is the way I remember it, and this is how I made meaning out of that. This is the, here's the identity I drew out of these moments in my life.

But wait. And now you as an adult get to say, but is that really the way it is? What's God's truth on this? You know, as children, we kind of have a skewed perspective.

Yeah. And sometimes we need to revisit that in order to say, now let me put God's truth, let me grow up. First Corinthians 13 verse 11 kind of gives us that little thing. Paul says, when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. Yeah, we pretty much all do that. You do what children do.

When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. There's a lot embedded, I think, in that statement. One of the things we have to learn to do as adults is put away some of the conclusions that we drew about ourselves as children. Ray's going to talk about his journey with his family, the man he thought was his dad, only to discover that there's somebody else, right? There's family secrets embedded. And it's a very interesting story. And in it, he is questioning, who am I and where do I fit and what does this mean? And at the end of it, you're going to discover the adult, mature Christian man's point of view of what he remembered as a child. It's really a marvelous journey.

Let's listen to it. I grew up in a home. My mom was 15 years old when she got pregnant. And so at the age of 16, she had me prematurely. So right off the bat, being born into a single parent home and my mother and father got married a year or two after I was born.

And so I distinctly remember even when I would go to the hospital or emergency room or pediatrician, whatever, we would visit a doctor. They would always have issue over my last name. And I couldn't ever figure that out. Like I'm Ray McKelvey.

That's what do you mean? But I didn't realize as a kid for the first couple of years or so, I was Ray Harrison because that was my mom's maiden name. Okay. So anyway, grew up in a home with teenagers basically as parents. I'm the oldest, so always been in charge, always been the one who was responsible. I would pick up my three year old sister from preschool, walk home.

Wow. Go to the apartment, lock the door back, make sure everyone got their chores done. And how old were you at that time?

Seven, eight, and nine. Even from a child's vantage point, how did you experience all that emotional instability? The volatility that you talked about, the, hey, Ray, you're responsible to pick up your sister. Like, how did that sit with you? I mean, trying to put on my kid's eyes or heart, it was normal. You didn't know any different? It's all I knew. It wasn't like I would go around thinking, oh, wait a minute, this isn't the way normal families work.

This is all I knew. But I can tell you, fear was a huge part. Fear drove everything because I didn't know what the emotional climate would be when they would come home. I didn't know. So I lived my life avoiding anger.

What can I do to bring stability? Right, right. I am going to keep peace. And if I have to control my brother and sister in order to do that, I would.

You know, I was pretty much a straight A student, did what I was supposed to do at school, and I just didn't want to rock the boat. Yeah. So what you're telling me is even as a young boy, you very well understood the instability, the emotional instability of your home. And you knew that you carried the mantle of being able to help provide peace for other people.

You had the power, at least you thought you did on some level, to help mom and dad out, to help the younger siblings out, because there were things that were uncertain, but you could bring some measure of control and create certainty, it sounds like. Right. Yes, exactly.

Yeah. And did that ever have a sense that it was a burden for you? I think looking back on it, my frustration in having to be a caretaker of my siblings felt like a burden.

I don't know. I just look back at times how I felt cruel, that I was cruel to my siblings. And so I remember after I came to Christ as a teenager, I apologized. And I said, I apologize for being such a cruel older brother.

And they were both like, oh, we knew you loved us. And so I was treated really like a parent, even though we were not that far apart in age. I was respected as a parent and even to this day still have kind of that voice, especially with my younger sister.

You just said to this day, and I was about to kind of leap forward into the now. One of the things we know about kids who grow up in homes, whether they be with intact families and parents, or whether they be from a divorced family, for example, where there's some natural gaps that kind of materialize over time, that there is this high level of reliability and they tend to grow up and be doers as adults. Like they know how to get stuff done and they've learned responsibility and they've learned how to fill gaps.

And my guess is that that's carried over into your adulthood in some form or fashion. I was telling someone I can't ever remember being without a job. I've never been fired, never been let go.

Of course not. You're a good peacekeeper. You know how to keep the job. And so we've been talking this whole time and I've been thinking about Robin and I know she's got something to say. And, you know, here's the thing for the listener. What I want is, you know, Robin is the woman who came into his life as an adult. And she's learned all this stuff after it all happened. And she's been his life partner for 32 years.

And so part of this is, yeah, Robin. So as he's talking, what are you thinking? OK, one of the things that I hear Ray talking about is how he kept the peace. But there was a reason why he needed to keep the peace.

He didn't say that his dad was an alcoholic. And so there was so much turmoil because he would come home drunk and be ready to start a fight. And so all of those things were how can I keep it where nobody is injured or. And some of the things that we're finding out even to this day are because of some of those past injuries that happened in a time when the family was in the middle of a fight.

And I and I want him to share his feelings about that because you have some. And when you're eight years old and you're trying to box your daddy so you protect your mom, those things. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's so many layers. It just depends on where you want to go with this, because my story, that's just like from age one to nine. But then there's nine to 14 and then 14. Those are three distinct eras.

Yes. Well, I think we'll move into those next ages here in just a minute. Before before we do, though, what about that observation that Robin made about your about your dad being an alcoholic? And and so where did that put you? It sounds like you were not only a peacemaker, but a protector. Well, specifically, there was really a turning point when my parents divorced and it really centered around physical violence begin to escalate between my mother and father. And from a kid standpoint, it appeared to me that it was around whenever he would drink.

And it wasn't like this all the time, but it became more frequent. And I remember one particular incident and in this one, it just wells up so much emotion every time I recall it. But I remember him coming home and there was just chaos. And I walked into our apartment living room and he was physically fighting my mother. And I remember as I was either eight or nine somewhere in there and I jumped in to protect her.

And in an instant, without him even thinking about it, he turned and started to fight me as if I were another man. And I mean, and there's blood and tears and screaming. And then we hear sirens. Our neighbors heard what was going on.

Someone had called the police. And as the sirens got closer to our home, my dad started running toward the front door. And I yelled out to him, I don't ever want you to be my daddy. And then I remember saying it again.

I don't ever want you to be my daddy. And that was monumental. And it was the last time that our family in that way was ever together.

You are listening to Family Life Today with Ray and Robin McKelvey. Boy, I feel like I'm watching a movie. Yeah. You know, but it's Ray's life, you know, and you talk about connecting the dots. You know, what's really interesting for me is I've known Ray for a couple of decades.

I had no idea. I would have never thought that was in his past, which is going to be interesting to hear the rest of the story because something great has transpired from then to now. Don't you think it's a good journey sometimes to unload the past that we hide from everybody in our adult world? It doesn't mean we should be indiscriminate and share everything that's gone on in our life with everyone. We need to choose carefully who we unload things to. But it is interesting how we can know somebody for a long time and really not know them.

What's interesting, too, is I hear that last sentence, I don't ever want you to be my daddy. How does that not affect your future? He has carried that.

I'm sure he carried that for years without acknowledging the effect it had on him. Yeah. And as we continue to listen, you're going to hear more of the story and how that rolls into the next season of his life. The suspense is killing me. Let's go.

Let's hear the rest. I don't know whose whose quote this is. When a father leaves a home, he takes a piece of his son with him. And so there's just like this hole that's there that you kind of spend your life trying to patch up or to fill. And so even though I didn't want him there, I, for the first time, began to feel this void and this hole. And I never will forget, I obviously was injured in this fight. And I don't remember. It was two weeks or so later and my mom had to go to work. And so I was still responsible. I was at home and she says, I don't care who comes to the door.

Do not open the door. And I remember this incident. My dad came back to the apartment and this was a couple of weeks later and I had a scar somewhere on my nose. I don't remember exactly where it was, but he knocked and he said, this is your daddy. Well, what did I do?

I opened the door because I still felt that way, even though I had yelled out, I don't ever want you to be my daddy. But at the same time, there was an instability that was brought with him being absent. So it was monumental in that way. And so I ended up having to go to court to testify against him. And that's so difficult. So traumatic. It's such a lose-lose for a kid.

It really is. And I don't, again, remember all the details, but they were divorced. And shortly after that, my mom started dating.

I remember an incident when I was 19. I was living at home and my mom moved into another apartment. And I had to help her pay bills because she said, now you're out of high school.

If you're going to live at home, you're going to have to help. And when I was there, my dad, Raymond, started visiting. And I remember writing in my journal, maybe they'll get back together.

Maybe we will be a family again. Because I start seeing that and I was still holding on to that. And that's 10 years later.

And there was a lot of life lived between 19 and 9. Okay. So a bit of a spoiler here for our listener, because one of the things I know is that this first eight or nine years of your life, you were nine when your parents divorced? Yes.

Sometime after that, you're going to discover that the man you called dad is not who you thought it was. Right. You want to tell us that story? Well, before I do that, I have to actually, there was a parenthesis.

Okay. Because when I was 10, my mom met another man that I totally adored. They ended up getting married. And my stepdad, he entered my life right around puberty around that time, sat down and talked with me and I loved him. And for the first time I was like, oh, we have, I'll show my age now, we have to leave it to beaver family now. My mom was able to not work outside the home and dinner was ready when we got home. It just felt like, wow, we have a family.

This is the way it should be. And I'm imagining that you were relieved of some of those parental duties. Very much so. I didn't come home with a key because my mom was there. But I had a sense just because of my hypersensitivity to my atmosphere. I began to sense that my mom and stepdad, it didn't feel right to me. So I wrote them a letter. I think I was 13.

I wrote them a three page letter and I entitled it How to Keep Your Marriage Together. I'm not kidding you. Let me get behind this. So the sensitivities in you that were developed very early on in your life to look around, to be noticing what's going on in the world, to help be a peacekeeper, to help provide stability in the midst of instability that continued forward. Of course, it was in you at that point. So you were picking up on signals. Something's going on.

Not sure exactly what it is. And so you felt, again, the need to intervene, to do something about it, to help try to bring stability to their relationship. Because I was very adept at picking up tones. I would be the one, if their voice is raised at all, I would be the one who would sit up in the bed and go, what's going on? What's happening?

And so I began to hear more of that, even though they were together. So I wrote them this letter, slipped it under their bedroom door. And the next day I remember them sitting down, talking to me, going, things are fine.

This isn't your responsibility. We're OK. And sure enough, I don't know, a couple of months, two or three months later, my stepdad, if I have the story correct, I was about to leave the house and he says, hey, I need you to go with me. And I said, where? And he said, just get in the car. And we got in the car, our little Volkswagen, we drove and we ended up, we were at the grocery store. We got out of the car and he just started putting groceries in the cart without saying a word. We filled the cart.

He paid for it. We went back and loaded everything into our Volkswagen, sat down. He shut the door and I'm waiting for us to take off. And I look over and he's got tears running down his face. And he said, I'm sorry. He said, we're not going to make it. He said, I'm so sorry.

Your mom and I are not going to make it. And I guess I haven't recalled it in that way in a long time, but I remember as he was crying because he felt it deeply, I felt it deeply as well. And so I remember going back to the house and my mom obviously knew what was going on. She never came out of the bedroom and he started unloading the grocery and I could hear her crying in the bedroom.

And he immediately started taking his clothes, took out all of his stuff, drove off, and that was that. Literally it was the death of a marriage, but the death of a family. It fractured everything.

Did it fracture something in you? Well, I almost felt like, OK, strike two. One dad.

But I had a strike three. I was at school in eighth grade during this time. And this is all kind of blurred between my stepdad and mom divorcing right around that same time I was with a friend and we were running track at school. And that friend said to me, is your dad's name Charles Bush? And I said, no, I've never even heard of a Charles Bush. And he said, my mom said your dad's name is Charles Bush. Now, his mom and my mom were high school friends.

So I thought that was really weird. She should know better. So the next day, my friend came back and he said, I went home and told my mom what you said. And she says, no, your dad's name is Charles Bush. I was like, I don't care what your mother said. And so then I was curious enough that I went home and my mom was cooking. And I looked over at her and I said, I was at school today. And, mom, do you know a Charles Bush? And she said, yes. And I said, Derek keeps saying that's my daddy. And without hesitation, without looking at me, she said, he is.

Wow. Now, how old were you at this point? Thirteen or fourteen. And had your parents split up? Your mom and stepdad? It was in the middle of all that. They were still together when I found that out. Okay. So let's go back to that moment. Your mom says he is.

Right. And you feel, think what? Honestly, I didn't feel anything about it because I had my stepdad. I was like, oh, that's weird.

I had never heard that before. I just didn't process it as a thirteen year old. I was just like, oh, okay. And just kind of moved on. We didn't talk about it anymore.

No one brought it up. I didn't have any pictures of him. So in your mind you weren't going, well, who was Raymond?

Who was the guy that was here the first nine years of my life? I had those questions, but because I'm the peacekeeper. Ah, gotcha.

You don't ask those questions because it might upset the apple cart. There's a reason why they don't talk about that. So I didn't talk about it. So I'll just hold that. I'll just hang on to my questions and not have any answers and keep the peace for you. Right.

Quick little comment here. A little commentary on kids in complex families. There's often at least one child in the family who is more than happy to carry the load for whoever they feel like this is going to protect.

If I don't bring this up, if I don't say this, if I just do that, if I cover all these bases, then it's going to keep peace and keep stability where there's been instability. And yeah, there's somebody who's willing to do that. Just because your child seems to be okay with some bit of news doesn't necessarily mean that they're okay.

It could just be that they're holding and carrying the burden for everybody else. Is that you, Ray? And you know what, Ron? I didn't think so at the time. But now that I talk to my aunts who are older and now we have the freedom to talk about those things, this one aunt in particular who's very close to our family, she said this, Ray, we were so worried about you. And that's an eye-opener, isn't it?

It is because I had no idea. She said, out of all the kids, we were so worried about you. And I think it's because they saw me bearing that burden or those burdens. And so, again, when I found out, it didn't mean a lot to me until their marriage started falling apart. And then, who am I? All of a sudden begins to surface.

And you're listening to Family Life Today where Ron Deal was hearing Ray McKelvey's story, and boy, oh boy, what a story. Where I think what he gets into at that last part is what every man and every woman really has to wrestle through, regardless of your upbringing, but who am I? What's my identity? I think that identity question, we all carry that, and we're all asking that question. Yes, we're asking that question. And you know, there's two qualities in family life that really tell us who we are, and it's, are we loved? And are we loved with stability?

In other words, can we count on it? Are the caregivers in our world trustworthy and faithful? By the way, we all recognize these are qualities of God. He loves us with a steadfast love. And as a child, we need that from our caregivers.

So Ray had instability, and he had people who loved him and then kind of walked away, so there was a lack of faithfulness. And so it leads a child, anybody who experiences that, to begin to wonder, so who am I? What's my worth?

What's my value? Does anyone really care? I mean, those are serious questions that we carry with us throughout our lifetime.

And you know, I don't think they can be answered horizontally. I really don't. I mean, we do find identity from our Father.

I mean, I can relate a lot to what I'm hearing from Ray. I didn't know who I was. I tried to find it from my dad. I never really got it there.

Thank God I found it from my Heavenly Father and literally changed my life. And I think we're going to find a similar case with Ray in part two. I think we will. We're going to hear that next time.

I've got to add just a quick thought. You know, Martin Luther, the great reformer, said, My dad was hard, unyielding, and relentless. I cannot help but think of God that way. So we as parents need to remember that God made us in His image, and then we make God in our image. And if there's consistency and love provided to our children, it gives them a running start on their identity so that then they can, as you said, vertically catch that in their God relationship. And I would add, Ron, that I have two great parents who love me, who are always there for me, but I was still asking that question.

And I believe God is the one who answers that question because He created us, He knows us, and He can also heal us. I think it's always important for us to remember as we hear stories like the one we've heard today from Ray and Robin McKelvey, it's helpful to know that God is the one who brings beauty from ashes, that He can take the hard, messy family situations that many of us grew up with or that some of us have left as a legacy to our own children. And He can bring great healing and great redemption and restoration out of those messy family situations.

That's the greatness of our God. And that's something that Ron Deal points to regularly in the resources that he provides for us. His podcast, which is called Family Life Blended, so many of you tune into that podcast regularly. There's a link if you'd like to find out more about the Family Life Blended podcast, go to our website,

The information is available there. There's also information about Ron's books, including his newest book, which is called Preparing to Blend, which is a guidebook for those who are entering into a blended marriage, kind of premarital preparation for couples who are beginning a blended marriage and need to grapple with the kinds of questions that have been talked about here today. That book is available online at You can order it from us or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to request your copy. Again, the book is called Preparing to Blend. Go to to order your copy or call us at 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You know, I think all of us have a tendency to look at the families around us in church or at school and think, man, our family is challenged. I mean, we've got messiness in our family situation. It seems like everybody else has got their act together.

And the reality is you're just seeing the surface with everybody else. All of us are facing challenges. There's a mess in everybody's family situation. Here at Family Life Today, one of our goals is to help point you toward Christ to help you deal with the reality of the messiness that is a part of all of our story. Family Life Today's mission is to effectively develop godly marriages and families.

That doesn't mean perfect marriages and families because there aren't any. It means marriages and families that keep going to Christ in the midst of the mess and to find hope and to find help. We just want to take a minute and say thank you to those of you who make this daily podcast available for listeners all around the world. Your investment in the ministry of Family Life Today is paying rich dividends in the lives and marriages and families of hundreds of thousands of people who are tuning in every day to this program, and we're grateful for this partnership. In fact, if you can help with the donation today, we'd love to send you a copy of Rebecca McLaughlin's book, Ten Questions Every Teen Should Ask. It's a book we've talked about this week, and it's a great resource for parents who are helping to raise children in a confused culture when it comes to spiritual issues. The book is our thank you gift to you when you donate online at or call 1-800-FL today to make your donation. Thanks in advance for your support of this ministry, and we look forward to hearing from you. Now tomorrow we're going to pick up Ray McKelvey's story where we left it today. We'll go to when he's 13 and his mom and stepdad are divorced and the kids are scattered. Ray continues the story tomorrow along with Ron Deal. Hope you can be here for that. On behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-23 18:05:31 / 2023-07-23 18:18:40 / 13

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