Learning To Give

my boysBengals trip 2012.  Who Dey!

An act of kindness.

Some people aren’t very skilled or willing when it comes to recognizing opportunities and taking action.  I would be one of those people.   That’s where my wife comes in; recognizing needs of others, lending a hand willingly, and sometimes letting me know when I’m guilty of living in oblivion.

She became involved in an outreach program through our church where she became a “football mom” to 3 or 4 student athletes each year at Kentucky Christian University.  I assume the spirit of the program has been to give young men, that are many times 1000+ miles from home, a connection with a local family and to make the transition a bit easier for life far away from home and family.
A support system.

Typical football mom duties would include taking snacks, homemade cookies, etc.  to campus or inviiting football players into our home for a home-cooked meal.  Some kids don’t have a need or desire for this type of support system, so it basically has given us a chance to develop relationships with one or two “assigned” players each year.

Our family has had the pleasure of developing friendships with quite a few of these young men over the last three years, but one player in particular seems to have had a huge impact on my faith in ways that I never could have imagined.
Dominique wasn’t one of our assigned players but was a friend of some of our “regulars” and showed up at our house with a group of players one evening after a home game. Quiet young man, pretty hard to engage in conversation with. Reminded me so much of myself at that age. Pretty sure he fell asleep on a loveseat that first night and I convinced him to stay the night instead of driving back to campus, sleep in my son’s bed.
I don’t remember the conversation I had with my wife that night, but I remember how it ended, “Kristy, I really think he needs us, needs to be part of our family.” Of course I didn’t know what the heck that meant.
But God has a way of clearing things up a LOT…..when we trust Him even just a LITTLE. I’ve never been the “loving” type. I have crazy love for my family but I’m pretty private and stingy with the rest of the world. You know, just loving the people that are easy to love. Keeping a tight circle and being very reluctant to let others enter into it.  And I’ve said it many times, “we may not be able to see any particular way that we are gifted to serve God, but we can all love”. I knew it, but I never lived it.
Dominique became a regular at our house, sometimes showing up out of the blue by himself, sometimes with friends. And what may have seemed strange at times, seems so cool to me now. The times he would be at our house for a good length of time before we even knew he was here, settled in front of the tv watching a football game. The times he seemed discouraged with circumstances and I tried to find the right questions and give the right words of encouragement….and struggled. The times he helped himself to whatever was in the fridge and  did piles of laundry here (just like I used to do at my parent’s).
When I put all those things together, it paints the greatest picture. Dominique has become exactly like one of our own children, doing exactly as our children do in our home.
A level of comfort that has grown out of love and trust, I hope.
Small gestures here and there, nothing deep and personal.  Just a place to feel loved, welcomed…..comfortable.
At some point, I realized that I had a genuine concern for his wellbeing, and this was not a feeling that was common to me.
Clarity came on Father’s Day this year just how God has used him as a wonderful blessing in the life of me and my family. I was sitting in church on that Sunday morning when a text popped up on my phone (no I don’t text in church, but I made an exception).
Happy Father’s Day
“Thanks, that means a lot that you thought of me today”
You’ve always treated me like a son.
BOOM
Tears filled my eyes as I passed my phone over to my wife. It hit me so hard, the realization of my years of failure at loving others the way that God desires.  And I realized that I’m not the same man that I was before I met Dominique.

I love this young man. My family loves this young man.  I thought I could be a blessing in his life.

It seems clear now that God placed him in my life to change me, to teach me how to love.
Dominique plays his last college football game today. I hope I have honored him in some way by sharing this.
Good luck today, old buddy. And thanks for helping me find my way.  Thankful that God has placed you in our life.

dominique

Honored to be your “football dad”.

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