One of the last times you hear about Hagar in the Old Testament is it says that Hagar found a wife for Ishmael. And I said to myself, this is a woman that has a vision for her son. Even though he wasn't the son of the promise that he thought he was going to be, there was a promise. And so I thought about all these boys who were growing up in single mother homes where the dad's not there.
Do you have a vision for your son, not just to be a good man, but also to be a good husband and a good father? Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.
And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. All right. I don't know who first stated this quote, but I've heard it many times in the last 18 months.
Pain that isn't transformed is often transmitted. Oh, yeah. Isn't that so good? It's true. I'm not sure who exactly said it.
Maybe we'll find out today. Maybe Roland, our guest, said it. Roland Warren is with us. I will steal it, though. You take it. Roland said it. Welcome back to Family Life.
Yes, thank you. Here's a quote you said yesterday that I've never heard quite the way you said it. We all have a hole in our soul in the shape of our Father.
I've heard the hole in the soul. But when you said that yesterday, that's profound. I mean, there's a mother wound that we can carry, but there's a power in a dad that causes this father wound to be visceral in all of our lives, even if we had a good dad in our life. And you and I both had a dad that walked out.
Let's talk a little bit about that. Wait, let's talk about his book called Raising Sons of Promise. Subtitle is A Guide for Single Mothers of Boys, which is awesome because that's where we started yesterday, and we need to get back into it today.
Obviously, this book is for single moms, but I think it's for a lot more than just single moms. Do you agree? I do. Of course you do. You want to be bought by everybody.
It's for everyone. You know, it's interesting because it is for single moms, but it's also for those folks who love and support single moms. And there are a lot of people out there because, you know, part of it's like helping you understand the journey that she's on and helping you understand how you can support her on that journey. One of the things I absolutely saw with my mom was how isolating and small your world becomes. Because, you know, if you're going to build relationships, you need time, and time is one of the things that's in very short supply when you're a single mom. Your mom was raising four kids by herself.
Yes, you're working, you're tired, then there's, you know, the emotional pain, all of that. So people have to lean in, in a way. So, you know, the book can be very helpful to anyone who has that interest. But the reason I wrote the book actually was it was a follow on to a book I'd done before called Bad Dads of the Bible, Eight Mistakes Every Good Dad Can Avoid. There's only eight.
Which every parent is just leaning forward, like, what are those mistakes? Well, you're going to have to get the book. But there are only eight.
I checked. There's not nine or ten. So I tell dads, once you master those, you're good. But one of the ones, the chapter that was the most difficult for me to write, which I didn't even expect, was the chapter that I wrote about Abraham and his bad dad mistake, which was abandoning his son, abandoning your child. And then most people think about Abraham, like, what do you mean?
He was there for Isaac. No, no, his child, his first child was actually Ishmael. And as I was writing that chapter, I said, I am Ishmael. Because if you know the story, I mean, Ishmael was the firstborn. And for 13 years, he thought he was the son of the promise. He was the apple of his dad's eye. Oh, can you imagine this? Abraham's wanted a kid for 99 years.
And it's kind of like, Oprah, you get a car, you get a car. I mean, he just, you know, he was carrying everywhere. That's going to be your son. That's going to be your son.
Till he's 13 years old. And let's just say this too. This wasn't Sarah, her child. This was Hagar's child, but it was Sarah's idea. It was Sarah's idea. And actually in the custom, Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham. But the child that is born in this process actually gets adopted by Sarah. So it's basically how they used to do surrogate mothering, that kind of a thing.
That was a thing. So this is what this is, right? And so you see this. So you've got this boy who's like thinking, I am the promise. I'm the promise. And then Abraham comes to him and says, not so much.
Isaac is. And then you follow the story of what happened there. There's a conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and Sarah by this time and says, get them out. This is all an old ancient story with very contemporary baby mama drama between these two moms.
You have all of that. And Abraham puts them on a horse or donkey or whatever it is and just sends them out in the desert with a little bit of water. And they go out there and Hagar watches her son almost die.
And then God comes. And so in that story, I saw sort of an archetype for my experience to some degree and the experience that my mother had as well. And what really gave me super encouragement was one of the last times you hear about Hagar and the last time you hear about Hagar in the Old Testament is it says that Hagar found a wife for Ishmael. And I said to myself, this is a woman that has a vision for her son.
Even though he wasn't the son of the promise that he thought he was going to be, there was a promise. And if you know the story of Hagar, she was given that promise when she runs away from Sarah at that time. And she meets this angel and he's like, where are you going and the whole thing. And she comes to a realization that this is a God who sees me. And then she's told to name her son Ishmael, which means a God who hears. So every time she looks at that little boy, this is a God who hears and she knows there's a God who sees. And so she has this vision for her son. And so I thought about, you know, all these boys who were growing up in single mother homes where the dad's not there.
Do you have a vision for your son, not just to be a good man, but also to be a good husband and a good father to break the cycle? And that was the insight God gave me, which led to this book, Raising Sons of Promise. Really? That's how it happened. I mean, that's fascinating. And it's also your story.
Yes. And then as you became a husband and dad, did you feel like you could fulfill that promise? You could become a good dad? Because I know for me, it was a struggle to believe that at first. Didn't have a dad, don't know what I'm doing, have no model.
Again, that's all victim mentality. But I had some of that fear. And it took courage for me to go, I can be a great dad, even though I didn't have one. But I had to figure out how to do that. Was that your story? Oh, absolutely. There were so many things that I hadn't learned and hadn't experienced.
And by the grace of God, you know, he gave me a great wife, you know, who happens to be a Texan as well and can be very directive. And I remember, I'll just tell you this quick story. I remember early on when my oldest son was, you know, he was really young.
He was like four or five years old. And I just felt weird hugging him and kissing him. That just seemed weird to me. It's like hugging and kissing thing, you know.
Are we like clones? Totally. I mean, I'd see her looking at me every time you say something like, I'm married to that guy. Well, maybe I can explain how he got there because the insight God gave me, my wife said to me, I went to her and said, look, this hugging and kissing thing, you can do that. She said, no, you need to hug and you need to kiss him. And I was like, I was just wise and I was like, I'm going to do it. So I started hugging him and kissing him. And the more I did it, the easier it got.
Now he's 40. I still hug him and kiss him, that kind of a thing. But as I, again, psychoanalyze myself, what I realized was that hadn't happened for me.
Sure. So I'd never had that experience that I could recall. My mother was a worker. So we didn't have that. So I was about to replicate something that I had learned that was not good. So this whole notion of being a husband and a father and not just a good man, I think is really important. If we're going to break the cycle of father absence in the country, it's going to mean that single moms are going to have that Hagar insight that, okay, this wasn't the promise that I thought I was going to have. This isn't the promise I thought my son was going to have, but God is a God of promises. He's a God who sees you. He's a God who hears you. And there is a promise for your son. And he wants to use you to help your son be that son of promise that God has designed. But as a mom, how do we, or how do these moms give them the vision for both being a good husband and father?
Yeah. You know, they haven't seen it. So it's like, I'm thinking of the single mom thinking she's doing her best. How does she give them that vision?
Well, I think it's simpler than maybe people think. If you wanted your son to become, I don't know, a astronaut or a professional basketball player or a tennis player, I mean, what would you do? You'd take them to a coach.
You'd put them around people who are doing that. So if you want your son to be a good husband and a good father, then you have to find guys who are good husbands and good fathers, and then you have to help them connect with your son in that way. And that's one of the concepts in the book I call finding what I call a double duty dad for your son. And you don't have to look out, but just go within your own circle of influence.
So it's very practical. The way I look at it, you just start making a list of three, four, five guys who you think have the character attributes that you'd want to see in your own son. And then it's an intentionality where you say, listen, here's the thing. I'd love for you to start connecting with a son. I'm not expecting you to be his father, to replace his father. That's not the role, but I want you to model for him what it means to be a good husband and a good father and to talk in those terms with him. So when you're doing this, by the way, this is the kind of stuff that a good father does. This is the kind of stuff that a good husband does, those kinds of things.
So you can cast that vision for him. So in the book, I talk a lot about like, here's the process of how do you find a double duty dad? Like there's men's ministries and churches.
Well, there are a lot of good guys that can be there. And what you really want them to do is then integrate your son into some of the things that they're doing already with their own children. And I saw this in my own life. My wife and I, since we were very involved in sports, we had lots of boys over our house.
And I remember one time I had gotten flowers for my wife and we had a couple of boys in the kitchen. This one boy comes up to me and says, I see your hustle, Mr. Warren. I see your hustle. I was like, what are you talking about? You see my hustle?
I say, you bought those flowers for her. Okay, I see what you're doing. I see what you're doing. And I was like, wow. I was scared because I realized they're watching me. And that's when I realized sort of the concept of a double.
I said, well, I have this enormous opportunity. And all these boys, by the way, were growing up without dads. Actually, when I look back on it, all these boys that were attracted to our house, they were fatherless boys. Every single one of them. I didn't even have the insight at the time.
They were all fatherless boys and they were watching. And so that's the power that you have. It's easier than you think, but you have to have the insight. So in the book, I also talk about the difference between sight and insight. Sight is seeing what's there and insight is seeing what you don't see.
Right? Sight is seeing what's there that you do see. Insight is seeing what's there that you don't see. You have that at the end of every chapter.
Every time. Sight and insight. And that was an insight that I had. I had sight before I could see these boys around, but I didn't have insight in terms of what God wanted me to do. So yeah, really just the double duty dad concept is so, so helpful in terms of helping your son get connected to men that are good husbands and good fathers and they can model the character attributes and help them see.
These boys who were growing up without dads, they were seeing what a father and a mother interacting together and what a husband and wife interacting together look like in that context. And that's a power that you have to be able to do that. Yeah. And I never knew that my mom actually did that my whole life. Never knew she did. It was always behind closed doors. It was usually a coach at whatever level I was at. She actually went to, I remember she went to my little league baseball coach. I didn't know this, but I remember having dinners at his house with his, you know, his son was on our team and his sisters.
And I'm like, I don't see any of the other guys on the team here. My mom went to them. Even when I was in high school, she went to coach Jones and said, you know, David doesn't have a dad. Could you be his dad in this season of his life? So I always had another role model and I never knew it. And she was doing the double duty dad thing. Yes, absolutely.
Yeah. And then you and I as dads can be that for other single moms in our church and our community. I coach high school football and mostly kids on the team.
Not most, but a good number of kids on the team didn't have a dad. I'm their dad. Absolutely. And that's what God wants me to do with this wound that I have carried my whole life is now going to be transformed so it's not transmitted and I'm going to impact their life. I think what a simple solution or just a simple step we can take in the church. There's so many single parents that feel forgotten, feel like they're not seen. So for us just to have some insight to be looking and to invite them over, get to know their family, have them. I think that's so fun. Like, Dave, you're such a good dad.
Any kids that would be around you, you're fun. And so I think maybe the, I don't know if the husbands always see it, but I know if a woman can say, hey, be looking for those other single moms and invite their over with their kids. That's such an easy, great step we can take. Yeah, let's talk.
You write a couple chapters about this. I think it's a big deal for us sons that didn't have a dad. How did you get, you call it forgiving your Abraham. How did you get to the point of forgiving your dad? The first thing is that, oh, pastor, I heard some years ago say that, you know, that forgiveness is a living sacrifice, right? But the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off of the altar. So I would say that it's a continuous process. You know, forgiveness is a decision that you make and you make the decision before you feel the decision.
And that's what's key. And so from my standpoint, I had to make that decision. You know, I could definitely see like destructive things that would happen in my life. And frankly, in some ways, in terms of thinking and other things that were happening in my life, because if I didn't forgive him. And God actually kind of brought me to that moment at my dad's funeral because I was so angry about what was happening there. And at his funeral, I had this epiphany that forgiveness and apologies are not linked. So a lot of times people will say, well, I will forgive this person when they apologize.
And I understand that like intellectually. But the problem is, is that if you don't have forgiveness in your heart before the apology comes, no apology will do. You'll always justify it. You'll say, well, it took you so long.
You must want something from me. But if you do have forgiveness in your heart before the apology comes, actually no apologies needed. So what I realized when I was at my dad's funeral after a process at my dad's funeral was that forgiveness is work that you do with you. Apologies are for people who've done wrong because whole people own their stuff, right?
So those two things are not connected. Forgiveness is work that you do with you. You make a decision to forgive. And the result is if you don't make that decision to forgive, then it's going to be corrosive and it's going to affect other areas of your life. You're not going to be able to see what God wants you to do.
So, you know, like you were saying, Dave, I've done the same thing. God has given me a heart for boys growing up without dads. I look for them.
I'm just drawn to them and a heart for single moms who are raising boys without dads. Now, if I just walked in bitterness, I'd be closed down. I wouldn't be of any use to anybody. You'd only be looking at yourself.
I'd only be looking at myself. So God has actually used the work that I've done in fatherhood and all those things to help me. And He's helped me see, look, there's a purpose in the pain that you've had. There's a purpose in this. Because you've experienced that, you have a sensitivity to others who are feeling that. I'm not sure who said it, but it might have been Suise Lewis, but God doesn't waste pain or something like that.
And it's true. So I think if you don't really wrestle with this forgiveness piece, you're going to have some issues. And then also as an area where as a single mom, He needs you.
He really needs you to help. The son. The son really needs you to help to process this, which means that you've got to walk through a path of forgiveness yourself because you can't give what you don't have. You guys both had to walk through that forgiveness of your dads. Dave, you talk about it and you even write about it in our book.
How has that looked? I feel like as I was reading your book, Rollin, I thought this is like our chapter on forgiveness and anger too. I was interested in that. So I'm thinking there are a lot of moms and kids.
They're kids of not having a dad in the home that really need to forgive. Where do they start? Well, we're going to ask Rollin.
He's the guest. Well, I mean, I think there's a number of steps. I talked about the dance of forgiveness in the book. In the book, there's another book that has that title. We've been forgiven. You've got to acknowledge the anger first. And that's a place that people don't want to go. It's real.
It's legitimate. And it's a biblical thing to be angry. But we're cautioned to not sin in our anger.
I remember you coming down the stairs telling me that first step. Like, I need to acknowledge my anger, the ABCs of anger. That's what he said.
Yes. ABC for me was acknowledge it. Because a lot of times this Christian was like, oh, I'm not angry because we think it's sin. It's like, yeah, you are. B was backtrack to where is that anger plugged into.
It may be something here, but it's possibly something. And mine was a dad walked out. And C is confess it in an appropriate way. Which for me was like, let's take a step toward forgiving him.
Same for you or different? So you started off the acknowledge. Yeah, acknowledge it. And I think the other thing, too, is that it's so easy when you have someone who you're struggling to forgive to kind of dehumanize them. So you actually have to feel concern for that person, which was another thing. And then to some degree, you've got to make a commitment to actual change. I'm going to change the way that I'm going to think about my dad.
I'm going to look for opportunities to think well of him rather than just wallowing in what he didn't do. Ooh, that's not always easy to do. That's not easy to do. It's like changing the whole brain structure and neuro pathways that you've had ruts in your brain of this is a bad guy.
This is what he did to me. And so now you're trying to change that. That probably took a while. And it's still a process, honestly, that I work through. Because one of the things that happens is that there'll be triggers. I remember I'll see my grandkids and they'll run to me and I'll go like, wow. Or I'll see someone holding a son or something.
And you just end up there. I mean, I had that a lot. I was dealing with when my boys were young. You know, I'd be playing catch with my kids. And instead of this being like this sweet, sweet experience of playing catch and this, that, and the other, a thought would come into my head of, you know, my dad never did that. Never had it. Those are the same words he said.
Kids are playing on the floor. He looks at me and he said, my dad was never there for that. Exactly. So it is a process. So that's why I'm saying that the moms that are listening to this, you're getting the insights from me, from Dave, right?
It's in there. Whether he's processed it with you or talking about it, I'm telling you it's in there and it has an impact. And some guys run away from fatherhood and responsible fatherhood. Because if you think about it, I think one of the more challenging things about, you know, being a single mom is that the better job you do as a single mom, raising a son, to some degree, it could actually be teaching him the opposite of what you want him to learn. In other words, you're a great mom and you raised him without a dad. So he can think, well, I can just go get people pregnant and not be there. My dad wasn't here, so I don't need to be there. And that's a good way for him to not have to process that loss. And so unless you intentionally talk into that and speak into that and say, listen, my hope and my dream for you is not that you be a father who's done what your dad has done, but that you're a different kind of man. You've got to help him process that.
So it's in there, and a lot of that stuff are the things that come in the book and we talk about quite a bit. I think, you know, as I hear you say that, Roland, I think it takes courage for a mom to do that. I know for me as a dad, trying to be a dad I'd never really seen, every day was like, are you going to have the courage to have this conversation?
I found it easier to walk on stage as a pastor and preach about it, you know, publicly at a speaking event rather than walk in their bedroom at night and say, hey, can we have a... Just how are you doing? That was like a fearful thing to me. It's intimate, you know, and it's like, I know I need to go there.
We'll do that next week. And then they're 18 or 16, you know? And so for a single mom to have that conversation that she's afraid to have, I think we're both saying have the courage.
Ask God for strength, walk in there, open your mouth and see where it goes. Because he longs for that. He's wanting that.
Even though he may act like, Mom, I don't want to... He is longing for that. There is a gap there that God has given you a place to be able to step into, right? Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there's no intimacy without vulnerability, right?
So I can't hug you unless I open myself up, right? And so that's why we've talked about that earlier about, you know, sharing your story to some degree, age appropriate. But sharing your story, that creates a certain vulnerability, which creates an opportunity for intimacy. And I can tell you as a son who grew up in an environment, we long for that. And we don't have a lot of places to get that and process that. Because the other piece in the book is the male culture and the boy culture and all that stuff.
You'll learn more about that too as you read the book. But in male culture and boy culture, there aren't places to process this. I couldn't go to my buddies. I really didn't feel like I could go to my buddies and say, Listen, I'm really hurting over the fact that I just had a great game and I saw all these other boys run up to their dads. And I saw their dads on the sidelines and mine wasn't here. And, you know, you've had those moments. I can still remember the two football games that my dad came to. One was in 10th grade and the other one was my freshman year of college.
I still remember those to this day. So who am I going to talk to about that? So you just internalize it and you process it in some ways. In some ways, sometimes the way you process it is not necessarily constructive but destructive. So I just want to encourage, and God will give you the insight that you need. And as you walk into that moment, don't have a preconceived notion of how this is going to go.
This isn't the Brady Bunch or the Cosby Show or television. This is real life. But you just open yourself up and he may come back to you in a moment that you don't expect. You say, you know, I was thinking about this. I'm really missing my dad right now and whatever. Let's talk about that. And maybe you just cry together.
Maybe you just this or maybe just sit there. But I just think there's an enormous opportunity. And once you build that relationship, that intimacy, right, that comes from that vulnerability, that's a dividend that's going to pay way in the future when you want to have those conversations and talk about dating and all these other things because you've started to make that connection. You're listening to David Ann Wilson with Roland C. Warren on Family Life Today. Ann and Roland have some really good words for moms, especially single moms coming up, and it's probably going to be emotional.
That's in just a minute. But first, Roland's book is called Raising Sons of Promise, a guide for single mothers of boys. You can get your copy at familylifetoday.com. Just click on today's review. Or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329.
That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's Ann with some heartfelt words for moms. This has been so helpful, like really helpful. And I love the idea as a single mom, or if you're married with a husband, but painting a picture of their future of what it could look like. I love that thought, like to say to your son, his dad's never been in the home maybe, but to say, you're going to be a great dad one day. I can't wait to see you be a father and a husband. You'll be really good at that.
Just painting a picture that just puts it in the mind like, that will be me one day. Yes, take him to a wedding. I always tell people, take him to a wedding. And when the groom's standing there and saying, you know what? I can't wait till the day that that happens for you. And you'll be good at it.
You'll figure it out and you'll learn how to be good. And Dave, the thing that made me, it made me sad for you, is that your mom never had those discussions with you. Like she was in so much pain. She'd lost a child. She'd gone through divorce. She's trying to support you. And she was just broken herself, but I wish she would have had that conversation with you of just saying, this has got to be really hard to lose your best friend and your brother, or this is so hard that you never have had a dad there to watch your games. Like that makes me sad for you, but also grateful that you've been such a good dad and a great husband. Oh, that's sweet.
Yeah, you're just trying to get me to cry. No, thank you. Thank you for doing that. And, Rowan, thank you. And thank you for saying that to him. Yeah.
It's sweet to see both of you. Oh, thanks. Thank you. You know, losing a spouse in divorce can be super hard on your kids.
And in the midst of it, it's hard to know how to help. Well, tomorrow on Family Life Today, David Ann Wilson will be talking with Ron Deal, a licensed marriage and family therapist who gives some useful advice in the midst of the heartache of divorce. That's tomorrow. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. 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.
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