Prodigal Father

Peter Watts Jr. and Peter Watts Sr. 2017 California Hospital

If you have followed me or my blog posts you are well aware of my father wounds. I have written about my father who hasn't been in my life since the 2nd grade. I'm 44 years old now and hadn't seen him in over 30+ years. Not having a father in your life brings about some internal and emotional issues that only God can heal. We often read the parable in the gospels about the prodigal or wayward son. What happens when you have a "Prodigal Father" who has left his family looking for what he thinks is a better life. Well, let me share with you my story of redemption...

I grew up in a two parent household until I was in the 2nd grade. My father was my world. He was a business owner and entrepreneur. He had his own roofing company and took care of me and my mother and younger sister on his income. He was a very bright man. He was highly intelligent and had an impeccable memory for things. I remember a time when he had to go to court over a contract issue with his business against a large corporation and represented himself. Needless to say he won the case on his own. That's how intelligent he was.

In the early 70's families in the black community were falling apart. Drugs hit the scene and people were experimenting with them and getting hooked. It seems that my family was no exception. My dad had gotten hooked on drugs and began exhibiting behaviors of violence and instability that my mother would not accept. In her strength, she took my sister and I and fled to Los Angeles where we lived with my grandparents.

Throughout those years of my elementary school time, I had little contact with my father. He would often visit but not for long periods of time. There were times when he would show up to the house high on Cocaine and PCP and would literally pull a gun out on my mother and kidnap me and take me back to his house in Inglewood. After he would come down from his high he would be regretful and take me back home to my mother. I was traumatized by these events which happened on more than one occasion. Soon he stopped coming by and stopped calling. I was in the 4th grade when I last had contact with him. His last words to me were, "I'm going to send you money each month." As a kid I still believed in him. I would go to the mailbox each day as I came home from school expecting to see an envelope with an allowance inside. To my disbelief and disappointment there was never anything there. At that point I gave up on him and moved forward in my life.

During these formative years, it had been my grandfather, uncles, and football coach who became the father figures I so desperately needed as a young black male growing up. Once I graduated from high school and entered college it was the brotherhood of my fraternity that I turned to for encouragement, validation and support. It is one the reasons I believe that I still turned out to be a pretty good guy in society. My mother played the biggest role in my life raising me and my sister as a single parent. She sacrificed her life so that we could have a better one.

Once I got married and had children, I found myself making a commitment to be the father that my father wasn't to me. I had to go to my Heavenly Father for guidance on how to be a good dad. I know that it was the Spirit of the Lord that has always helped me to be the best image of a loving father to my own children.

Fast forward some 30+ years later and I find myself in a whirlwind of emotions. I was sitting in a meeting with a few pastors. In the middle of this meeting, I received an inbox on Facebook from one of my church members with information and a phone number for California Hospital that said "Call Immediately." I didn't know what was happening. My mind went all over the place thinking something terrible had happened to my wife or one of my own kids. When I called the number I spoke with a social worker and nurse who asked me if my name was Peter Watts and if I pastored a church in Los Angeles. I replied yes and she said, "Well sir I think we may have someone that you have been looking for. We have who we believe is your father whose name is Peter Watts." I was floored! She continued and said, "we asked him if he had any next of kin and he said I have a son that pastors a church in Los Angeles." As a result the staff googled my name and found my information on the internet and reached out to me.

I was overwhelmed with emotions as I abruptly left my meeting scurrying down the 110 Freeway to get to see my Father Peter Watts Sr. I had been looking for him for years. I had last heard he was on skid row. I went down to Skid Row and couldn't find him just 4 months prior to this phone call. I don't know what God may do with this, but I am willing to walk into the uncertainty of the future.

The strange thing about all of this is the fact that I don't care about what he did to me or my mother in the past. I don't care about all the years that he missed. I don't care about the Christmas gifts, birthdays, children's births and graduations that he missed. I don't care about the wedding that he didn't get to attend. At this moment all I want him to know is that I love him and that God loves him even more.
Peter Watts