Father of Mine: A story of interpersonal healing, miracles, and why I can’t get over the idea that God is real.
This is the sort of story that I rarely share with anyone, both because of how personal it is and because when I hear about “supernatural experiences of God” I’m always, by default, skeptical. I don’t expect other people to believe stories like this, and I even have my own doubts about them even when I’m involved…like somehow I’m not remembering something the way it actually was. Enough disclaimer.
My band skypark was playing some Christian music festival in Washington. I don’t remember the name or the year…late 90s. I was already in my “I hate Christian music” phase pretty deep, so this was awkward. Somehow we found ourselves in front of a stage where this Australian piano player (kind of an Enya-styled person) was playing a song about rain. It started to drizzle a little bit.
This guy from the festival comes out during the set and starts talking about local churches having some sort of prophecy that when this artist played the rain song, that God’s healing was going to fall like rain on the festival-goers. Then he says how amazing it is that after a two week “drought” it’s starting to rain.
Two things are going through my mind:
1. “I’m from California. Two weeks without rain is a big deal? We can go nearly a whole year without rain. WTF is wrong with these Washington people?”
2. “Prophecies. Mm. Ooookay.”
But when the guy asked “Who here needs God’s healing to rain down on them? Who will pray with me for God’s healing?” I answered out loud (to my own surprise), “I will.”
Let me give you a little context. Two days earlier I had an intense emotional experience while driving. I was listening to KROQ and the Everclear song “Father of Mine” came on the radio. It wasn’t exactly my story, but I could not turn off the tears.
When I got home, I wrote a very intense letter to my dad. He was a bit of a monster to my mom and us…you know, drugs, sleeping around, violence, stealing our car after my mom divorced him, not calling or visiting us for a year because of his new wife…that sort of thing. I’d been a Christian for about half my life and yet I couldn’t forgive the guy. I just hated him. So I wrote a long letter talking about how badly depressed I was and basically I think the root of it is how badly he messed up my childhood.
(note: My dad has been sober for ages, he was young and stupid, and he’s not that guy anymore. I just still had wounds, you know?)
So, at the festival, I said out loud, “I will,” got on my knees and started to pray.
So the members of my band are looking around and there’s a charismatic guy putting his hands on some other guys head and speaking in tongues and they’re basically wondering why we haven’t left yet. And then they see a guy come up to me and lay hands on me and begin to pray…and they’re paying attention because they don’t know why I’m on my knees or why this guy is touching me.
I’m on my knees and then I feel hands on my shoulders. The guy leans down and whispers in my ear, “I feel like God is telling me that he’s going to heal your relationship with your dad. Is it okay if I pray for you?” I was stunned, just nodded and stayed there on my knees while he prayed. I don’t remember what the guy said in his prayer, but I remember just kneeling there, weeping and feeling like God was paying attention to me after all.
When he said amen I got up and gave the guy a hug. He said, “There’s a prayer tent over on the side of the stage. Do you wanna go there and talk a little more?” I agreed and we took off.
My band later told me that they were kind of freaked out by this, wondering where I was going with the strange charismatic guy and what was going to happen.
So we get to the tent and I spilled out my story, that I had just written a long and confused and angry letter to my dad.
The prayer-guy looked surprised. Then he told me a little of his story:
“I wasn’t going to come to this festival. I’m not really into this sort of thing. And I had heard these weird rumors about healing, but I don’t know what I think about all of that. But a couple of days ago, I was in my car, and I heard this song…”
What he said next blew my mind.
“Have you ever heard the song ‘Father of Mine’ by Everclear?”
I was so stunned I just said, “Yeah.”
“Well,” he continued, “I was driving in my car and that song came on the radio and I just started weeping. I have no idea why. And then it was like God said to me, ‘I need you to go to the festival. There’s a guy there who needs healing in his relationship with his dad, and I need you to tell him that I’m going to do it.’ So I decided to come anyways. I didn’t know what to expect.”
That’s when I told him the part about *me* being in the car, just about that same time, and weeping to that same song.
It was a very strange moment for the both of us…both of us kind of skeptical about the whole thing and yet knowing that the only decent explanation for our experience was that God was paying attention to us and caring for us.
When I got home I had a conversation with my dad. I said to him, “Look…I’m going to ask you some questions about my childhood, and I don’t want to hear explanations. All I want are yes and no answers.” Then I asked him questions…did you cheat on mom, did you beat mom, etc. At first he started saying, “Well, son, you know people make mistakes…” But I cut him off. I said, “Look, Dad…I’m looking for yes or no answers. I don’t want to hear excuses, I just need you to admit whether or not my memory is broken or not.”
Dejectedly, he started answering my questions, ‘Yes.’
At the end, he choked up and said, “I’m sorry, Son…it was a shitty thing to do.” (sic) I add the sic because I remember his words verbatim, bad grammar and all.
Immediately all my hatred and anger turned into a memory of the parable of the unmerciful servant. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of compassionate mercy towards him. I said, “I forgive you, Dad. Thank you for saying that. I will never bring the past up to you again.”
And, ever since that day, our relationship has been amazing. We’ve built a real friendship and been there for each other. I even performed his wedding this last fall to a wonderful woman.
Later we realized that it was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. My dad is Jewish, so this was a big deal that we were reconciled on Yom Kippur.
There you go…I’m letting you know that despite my depression, my intellectual elitism, my dissatisfaction and anger towards evangelical culture…I still pretty much believe that God is real, that he loves me, and that he shows up sometimes.
Don’t tell anyone.