Becoming the Father He Never Had
“My dad would tell me he was going to come pick me up. I’d pack all my stuff up and get ready to go and wait to see the dust cloud come up the road and then, you know, he wouldn’t show up. Tore me up. Cry myself to sleep. Every little boy wants to be with his daddy.”
Randy was no different. He needed to know his dad loved him. His parents divorced when Randy was just four, leaving that need painfully unmet.
“The biggest thing that bothered me about the situation was I felt like maybe he had moved on with a new family. He was ‘Superdad’ to them, but I never got to be around him. Just to be there and be my father, approve of me, love me.”
His mom remarried two years later, and the family moved to a farm. Randy didn’t feel loved by his stepfather either, and when he did see his own dad, there was another problem.
“He would take me to his house and then he’d get drunk and pass out. And I’d kind of kneel on the floor beside his bed trying to wake him up, and he wouldn’t wake up.”
By age 14, Randy had found a way to cope with the chaos and rejection by smoking pot.
“I think the biggest thing that it did for me was kind of give me acceptance at school. I could talk to girls without being with my head down, my face red.”
Pot led to other drugs and a search for bigger and better highs. Eventually, he found what he was looking for.
“Once I tried meth I fell in love. You know, it was –I guess it was my first love ever. It just made me feel like I was 10-foot tall, and bullet proof. You know, I could do anything. Talk to anybody. It’s the story of most of my life - was killing all my feelings with drugs.”
Before he finished high school, Randy did something he swore he would never do.
“Take the best buzz you’ve ever had and times it by 10,000 and it still don’t compare to the buzz you get when you use a needle. And just from that, you know, I was hooked.”
Randy married at 19 and they had a daughter, Katelynn. But it was his addiction that ruled his life.
“Deep down, sincere in my heart, I wanted to be with her and raise that baby. I told her okay. I’ll stop. It’s gonna be and I meant it. And then I couldn’t.”
He spent the next couple of years dealing drugs, getting into fights, and running from police. Finally Randy was arrested and given 20 years in a plea bargain.
“I felt like I gave everything I ever loved for a needle, you know. And so instead of dealing with that, I would, like I said, lash out. I hated everybody and I guess I hated myself most o’ all.”
His wife divorced him after two years. The only contact he had with his growing daughter was by phone. Those times were precious, but few. Katelynn was eight when one of those calls brought Randy to the end of himself.
“She was fighting back tears. I was like, ‘Katelynn, don’t—you don’t have to be strong for me. If you want to cry, you cry.’ She broke down and she cried uncontrollably for about 10 minutes until the phone shut us off. I was at my bottom. I was hopeless. I was facing a life sentence. So I went to my cell and I prayed to God. Don’t let me die in prison. Give me one more chance to be a father to my daughter. When I sought out God, you know, I meant it sincerely and the way that I lived –I was ashamed of that. I wanted to be forgiven for all of that.”
As Randy prayed and studied the Bible with other Christian inmates, he grew to have a better understand God’s love for him.
“Kind of overwhelming. A sense of security, you know, like everything’s going to be okay. I was relieved of the hatred and the anger and, you know, I kind of had love in my heart.”
Randy served nearly 12 years before he was granted parole and reunited with Katelynn.
“I don’t think we let go of each other the whole time, you know. We probably spent the whole day together.”
Randy’s father died in 2016, but not before the two had made peace.
“My dad was always there for me as a friend when I got older - an unsaid, unspoken understanding that we had forgiven each other.”
Randy is now married to Melinda and they have three boys – two of them are twins.
What neither his dad nor anyone else could give him, Randy has found in Christ.
“His love, His mercy. He’s given me everything. I feel complete, you know. There’s not a hole inside of me that is filled with anything but God’s love.”