Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Champ, T.O. I Am Your Father

With the news that Terrell Owens has been cut by an indoor football team it would be easy for many of us to feel smug. Owens has acted like a self centered, team chemistry destroying, irresponsible child. That would be the easy way out, but for some reason I felt very deeply sorry for him and those around him. Yes, he has hurt many people and angered many fans. He has four children with which he has failed to take care of, parent, and even just pay for their child support. I'm sure Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia feel a bit vindicated after the treatment Owens has subjected them to.
Amongst all of that stands a man who I know must be deeply wounded inside based on the behavior he exhibits. It's a true tragedy. I have a level of compassion for him in the sense that he acts like someone who has lacked the direction he needs to mature. Sadly, to an extent we are in the same boat as he is.
To contrast him, I present to you George Foreman. Today, he is a smiling grandfatherly figure who has that wonderful self deprecating sense of humor. He has made millions of dollars pushing car repair shops and hamburger grills. He's a pastor and from what I can see, a good father. The odd thing is to know George Foreman of the 70s you would never think of him this way. He was a surly bully who seemed angry at the world. That rage was unleashed on his opponents in the boxing ring with a frightening level of power and punishment. Through it he rarely smiled. He seemed angry at the world. In some ways, he had the same level of hurt that T.O. has.

Where did that come from? I know one source for both of these men.
For Owens, as a young teen he was interested in an older girl in the neighborhood. The father of the girl noticed this and went to talk with him. Now usually, this would be the usual "stay away from my little girl" talk that every father has felt the need to do. This talk, turned towards the shocking. The man did tell him to stay away from his daughter. The strange part, is the reason: the girl is Owens' sister! Can you imagine the shock of finding out this neighbor is your father?
Likewise for Foreman, while he was the champ, a random man named Leroy Moorhead walked up to him and introduced himself. In a chilling "Empire Strikes Back" manner, this man told him that he was his father. That would be a shock to the system.
These stories are tragic. Where were these "fathers" when they are needed? Why aren't they standing up and truly mentoring and guiding those whom they fathered? To me, doing this is the one thing that can truly stem the tide of all that is wrong in our society. T.O. is only a product of a broken system that continues to perpetuate itself. The only difference is his fame and fortune so we get to all see it on a national stage.
My sincere hope is that T.O. will find his true Heavenly Father, feel his deep healing love and step up to become the man he was created to be.

Exodus 12:24-28
 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.

As for George Foreman, one thing that seems to get lost in his transformation from bully to smiling pitch man is his faith. He has found the love of his Heavenly Father and lives it out - not perfectly, but in a daily transforming way. The angry, snarl is gone. He is proof that God changes us. No matter what our past is, we can still make a difference.

As a footnote, there's a joke about the fact that all five of Foreman's sons are named George. The joke rings of the sound of a dumb palooka who has no clue how to come up with any other name. In fact, it is something heartwarming and brilliant. Foreman's shock at meeting his father inspired him to be sure of one thing, all of his boys would know who their father is. They in fact will carry the name of their father, good, bad or otherwise. This is George Foreman standing up and saying, I'm your father and you will know it from day one.
May we all find ways to step up like that.
T.O. I'm praying for you.

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