MICHELE'S STORY - THE IMPORTANCE OF FATHERHOOD

 We Got Us Now | Guest Contributor:  Michele Lozano

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I don’t know when Father’s Day is because I haven’t celebrated it in thirteen years. Looking back, my dad was my everyday hero. He fixed the cars and the house, he was a handyman, electrical engineer, and computer engineer. You name it he could fix it. I was fourteen entering my freshman year of high school when my dad was picked up. By the age of sixteen, my dad had been deported to Mexico. I visited him once with my sister, which revealed the truth behind his charges and how much he was guilty of. To say the least, going from a “stable two parent home” to being raised by a “single mother” was a very difficult transition. I was angry with my dad for what he did, angry with my mom for leaving us to raise ourselves, even knowing she was doing all she could.

I didn’t celebrate my parents on Mother’s or Father’s Day. My parents had abandoned us at our most critical time of life. For many years, these holidays reminded me of how alone I was, of the heartbreak I felt with my dismantled family. It made me feel hopeless. What is a child without their parents? I grew up too fast, becoming an adult too early.

I didn’t learn how to love, have an example of how a man should treat a woman, or how to live a thriving life. I wondered, “who would walk me down the aisle at my wedding?” Shortly after, I stopped believing in marriage all together and lost my trust in men. I thought, “if my father could do this to me, any man could.

I remember the first time I went to church, the pastor preached about our “Father” and all the characteristics of God. His message was simple; “If you have felt lost, abandoned and in search of unconditional love, then I am here to tell you, you have a father in heaven who is everything you need and more”. That day, I gave my life to Christ. In that moment, every characteristic I had searched for from my parents and not found was articulated. I just cried. I sat, and cried until I had no tears left. I was twenty-two and it was the first time I allowed myself to revisit and acknowledge the pain in my heart that my dad caused.

I began my healing journey by first, trying to love my mother again, then forgive my father. I struggle, but I am trying. I started to appreciate parents, the role of mother and father, when I met my mentors. A couple, who love me like a child. I’m 26 and learning how to grow into adulthood in full healing because of their unconditional love for me.

I no longer focus on the life I thought I was robbed of, instead, Father’s Day causes me to be thankful for the children who have a loving father in their life. It gives me the hope and strength to love more people and to walk in forgiveness. So that one day, I too can have restoration with my father.  

 

Michele Lozano is an AmeriCorps member. For the past two years, her focus has been on community strengthening, specifically working alongside the organization, Children of Inmates. In 2018, through GEN2050, she has focused on Environmental Stewardship where she passionately educates and equips the community to steward "Mother Earth" through urban gardening and urban beekeeping. She is currently in college with a goal to get a bachelors degree in Environmental Policy.