Words can be a weapon or a blessing, may we choose the latter

My only accomplishment of note while I was in 10th grade was that I squeaked onto the high school golf team as the 25th person on the 25 man team. Although I never played any competitive golf while on the team, I did get to play a round of golf every day after school for a few months. In the process of doing this I got fairly good at the game, but not great by any means.

A few weeks after the school year ended I entered the annual youth golf tournament in Wichita. The only reason I entered was to appease my dad who urged me to do it. Grudgingly I paid the few dollars entry fee and showed up early on the Saturday morning along with every other kid in town who thought they were about to be a pro golfer.

Perhaps because I had been practicing so much or because I knew the course well, I played the round of golf of my life that day. Never before or since did I ever shoot a round of 75 in golf. By the time I finished, I stood in awe when I saw the scoreboard show that I was in 5th place in the tournament. For one of the few times in my life I felt good about myself and went home expecting to eat supper and then go to the driving range and hit golf balls. Silly me, I thought I had a chance to win the tournament.

My dad had been off work that day which meant he was drunk when I got home. Instead of being happy that I shot such a great round and offering encouragement for the final round Sunday, he started ripping me apart for being such a loser and a worthless son. Although my mom tried to stand up for me, all it got her was one of my dad’s patented outbursts that fell just short of physical abuse.

I stormed away from the dining room table in tears and retreated to my room where I wept until I fell asleep a few hours later. Everything in me just wanted to quit not only golf, but life itself.

I did go play golf on Sunday and shot a round of 110. I did not care how I played because I knew I would be a loser and a disgrace to my dad. I lost big time and thoroughly disgraced myself and my dad because I ended up in last place.

My dad never “got it”. He never did understand the impact words had on people when he was drunk. When he drank too much, he lost control of his conscience and his ability to think and talk sanely. He became a monster whose only intent was to tear down and belittle. My dad was the consummate “mean drunk”.

The bond between a father and a son, like the bond between a mother and daughter is special because God made it that way. When that bond is broken or abused through alcohol, drugs, pressure, neglect, or pride; the ability to have a relationship is destroyed and replaced with things that are definitely NOT Godly like anger, guilt or a feeling of utter worthlessness.

My dad did not understand until much later in life that his drunken tirades were a huge contributor to me becoming an introverted and worthless kid. Although he never hit me, his cruel words cut me to the heart time and again rendering me hurt and feeling like I could never be good at anything in life.

Fathers, mothers, teachers, counselors, clergy and coaches all have an awesome responsibility before God toward the young people they influence. God help us all that we understand this responsibility and take it seriously by seeking God’s help and never allowing personal flaws to forever scar an innocent child in any way.


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