My dad is an awesome guy and in so many ways a great example as a man and father. From my youngest memories my dad was always an avid hunter and fisherman. He was a firefighter by profession and if you know anything about this profession you also know that it provides a lot of free time to pursue interests, second jobs, and hobbies because of how their work schedules are designed.
From the time I was a young boy through my early adult years my dad instilled in me the enjoyment, pleasure, and responsibility of these two passions in his own life. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad teaching and showing me how to pursue being an accomplished hunter and fisherman. Even more importantly he taught me how to pursue these interests with integrity, safety, and excellence.
When I was about six years old my dad had set up a spare room in our home for the purpose of supporting these hobbies. In this room were all of the tools of the trade. It was where he stored his guns, ammunition, and fishing equipment. He had also set up a bench with the required equipment for reloading ammunition and a wealth of books and information about these subjects.
Even before I learned how to load and fire a gun safely my dad taught me how to evaluate, prepare, and reload ammunition of all types. He taught me and demonstrated how to inspect the spent casings or “brass” as it is known in the hunting world to make sure it was usable. He then taught me how to prepare the brass for reloading using a manually operated machine which reloaded the brass a stage at a time into a live round ready to be used. I learned how to trim the brass if it had been expanded when it was fired, how to set the brass correctly into the reloading machine and then what happened at each stage. First, the machine would punch out the old primer used to ignite the round. Then the machine would set a new primer in its place. Next, the round would advance to the powder tube which would drop a precisely measured amount of gun powder into the empty casing. Finally, the machine would advance the round to have a new bullet pressed into place completing the ammunition and making it ready for inspection.
My dad then taught me how to inspect that round of ammunition by checking to see the primer was properly seated and that the casing had suffered no damage in the reloading process. He showed me how to gauge the round to assure the bullet had been properly aligned and set into the brass. This assured that it would exit the barrel of the rifle perfectly and that there would be no chance of a misfire or a dead round. By the time I was eight ears old I could repeat this process for virtually any high powered rifle round and any shotgun shell known to mankind. I had loaded literally thousands of rounds of ammunition before I ever even fired my first gun.
Later in my life I asked my dad why it was so important for me to know how to prepare and load ammunition when I had never even fired a gun. I will never forget what he told me. “A gun is only the mechanism for firing the round, the round is where the business gets done. If you don’t understand how that bullet works you will never understand how to fire a gun in a way that makes you a skilled hunter.”
When the time came for me to learn about the skills of firing a weapon and hunting my dad was no less conscientious about my education. He taught me in depth about gun safety and handling a weapon with skill. He taught me rules like never load a gun until you are in the right environment and place to fire it. Never bring a loaded gun into the house and never have a weapon loaded without it having a specific purpose for being loaded. Never point that weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot. When hunting stay aware of where your hunting partners are and always know where the muzzle (the barrel of the gun) is pointed at all times. He taught me that hunting was as much about the experience and ritual as the mechanics of aiming and firing a weapon at the target. He taught me that the weapon was an extension of me and that when I fired it I was calling everything I had learned into action in that single moment. I learned that hunting had a specific purpose, to only shoot at what I knew I could claim within my skill level. That it was for the purpose of providing food, practicing my skills, and experiencing nature not just for the act or sport of killing the animal.
My dad once explained his philosophy of hunting to me this way. To be a good hunter you must first learn to respect and appreciate the power that you have in your hands (meaning the weapon). You must learn to be respectful of nature and the animal you are hunting as both are there to provide you with food and pleasure. They are not to be used for your own selfish satisfaction or to prove what a good shot you are. When you hunt it is more important how you hunt than the result of killing something. When a man knows how to be safe, respectful, careful, and skilled other men will enjoy hunting with you and you will be giving back more than you take. Appreciate that hunting is a skill and a process that takes a great deal of patience, understanding, practice, and respect. So you should never just hunt because it is hunting season. Only hunt because you are ready and want to provide food for your family and experience the beauty of nature.
Not only did he teach me how to be a true hunter and sportsman, most importantly he modeled it for me as well. He was an example of everything he taught me and I watched him put into action what he believed and had transferred to me.
To this day these lessons have stuck with me and have transferred into other areas of my life. I have not reloaded a round or been hunting in years and yet I could sit down at a reloading machine and within a few minutes be right back up to speed. With a little practice and preparation I could go hunting and be just as skilled and prepared as the last time I hunted. Why, because my father took so much time and care with my education about these subjects. We had and still have an incredible connection through the sports of hunting and fishing among others.
What if my dad had exercised the same care and conscientiousness about my education in matters of women, the heart, and sex? Would it have made a difference in the outcome of my life? Could I have avoided the mistakes of sex out of marriage and getting a girl pregnant at 17 years old, ultimately causing the death of my son by an abortion? Absolutely! The obvious question becomes, so why didn’t he? The answer is simple yet complex, because his father did not teach him. My grandfather left my dad and grandmother when he was very young, just abandoned them with no real explanation, at least my dad has never understood why. My grandfather committed what I call “abortion through absence.” According to Webster’s Dictionary the term abort means to “to become checked in development so as to degenerate or remain rudimentary, to terminate a procedure prematurely.” This is exactly what he did to my dad. He terminated the procedure of fatherhood and connection to my dad prematurely.
Because my dad was disconnected from his dad many of the critical life skills of being a man and father were never transferred and so he was not equipped to transfer them to me. In that way my dad and I were disconnected and the results were tragic. The danger of this disconnection is now obvious in my own life and I hope will serve as a lesson and example of how the fatherhood disconnection can be so dangerous and potentially devastating. If you are a man in this same situation, and many of us are, there is good news and hope for correcting this disconnect. The perfect example of fatherhood and how to be a man of integrity and character is found in a book that has been around for thousands of years. It is called the Bible.
Just think of the opportunities to transfer life lesson and skills that came through the connection with my dad in teaching and showing me how to be a good hunter. What if he had used those times to teach me the applications of being a skilled, caring, and responsible hunter as a prelude to being a skilled, caring, and responsible man and father? That sex is only the mechanism of physical sexual expression and that love, caring, respect, and proper relationship is “where the business gets done.” Just like you never load a gun without a specific purpose and plan you should never engage in sex without the proper relationship and life plan. What if he had transferred the lesson about the purpose and experience of hunting to the relationship with a woman and the proper context of sexual love? That lesson would have been to never take a woman for granted or have sex with her for your own selfish satisfaction. Sex is intended for two people committed to each other in marriage and should be for the purpose of expressing intimacy, love, or to create a new life you are prepared to nurture and care for.
As men today we must assure that we are connected to the ultimate Father and have a clear understanding of His nature, character, and purpose for our lives and our relationship with the woman we love. As fathers today we must restore the connection with our own children and assure that we transfer to them, especially our sons, the lessons, skills, attitudes, and character of being a man, and father. When we can talk openly and honestly about subjects of love, sex, relationship, and responsibility with our own children it removes a communication barrier that has long been taboo. In doing this we also communicate to them that they may approach us and talk openly and honestly about anything that may be affecting their lives. This is called connection and relationship.
Men, we have the power to end abortion! Not through legislation, demonstrations, social activism, or political involvement. Even though these areas are important the answer to abortion is not in prohibition but through effective connection to and education of our own sons. If we desire for them to avoid those mistakes and tragedies created in our own lives then we must have the courage to be transparent, open, and honest with them about our mistakes. This assures a solid connection because they see us first as human beings just like them and secondly we demonstrate we are not perfect. We experience disappointments and failures just as they will experience. We must teach and model for them what it is to be a skilled, caring, responsible man of integrity. More than that how to be a loving and connected father who demonstrates character, love, and honor to their moms and families. If we have been disconnected from our own dads and are lacking in the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill that role then we must find that connection and example through the ultimate Dad and Father, God himself!
Let us be assured as men and fathers that te disconnection of fatherhood must end with us. Let us be diligent about being connected to our children and assure that they are prepared for connecting and transferring those same skills to their children. With the example and love of our true Father, we can end the tragedy of abortion and restore the generational connection of fatherhood and the incredible life that it provides!