Before coming to the Mission, my idea of being a father was all about providing for my family’s needs. As far as I was concerned, if I took care of the bills, I was taking care of them. It wasn’t until I came to the Mission that I discovered how wrong I was.
I have three children; a 16-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. I love them. In fact, when I first learned I was going to be a father, I told myself I would never do what my father did to me. I would never leave my kids. I failed in that promise. I was in and out of prison and programs for the better part of a decade. When I was around, I was never really a part of their lives or activities.
Through Scripture and my Academy classes, I’ve discovered how God sees me. I’m His child. For Him, it’s all about our growing relationship and going through life together. Sure, He takes care of my needs, but He provides so much more than that. He’s with me. He listens and teaches. I know He loves me. I doubt my kids ever knew that about me.
I’m different now. My teenage son, who hadn’t seen me in over 9 years, stays with me and my wife half the time and the rest with his mom. I love that he’s back in my life. Our relationship is the best it’s ever been. I love that I have started to play with my kids. I love teaching them and talking with them - and really listening to them. It’s the little things that matter. I like knowing what interests them. One day, I’ll be able to look back and share the same memories because I was there to experience the moments with them, not because I was told about them by someone else.
Today, I am preparing for my transition back home full-time. I live outside Fresno, so I am temporarily moving into the housing (apartments) provided by the Mission. It gives me and my family time to adjust. I will begin working again and gradually return to my life with them. I’m using this time to really focus on my goals and my responsibilities so that I remain steady. The last thing my family needs is for me to start this transition and not have a solid plan and commitment to make it work. So, for now, I look forward to the process, knowing that I have my weekend passes and church passes with them. It’s my greatest joy. We are all growing in the Lord together.
I have two Scripture verses from Colossians 3 that keep me grounded. They talk about family relations: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them,” verse 19, and “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart,” verse 21. I wear a lot of external tattoos on my arms, but these verses I want tattooed in my head and on my heart. ~ Rocky
Rocky's story and additional pictures appeared in the February 2016 edition of Lighthouse News.