Carrying Your Dad’s Dumbbell

Just thinking about the kids of Ted and Gayle Haggard today . . . and offering up a little prayer. Its being noted that the Haggard children were in the back of the car during that interview, when news of their dad’s moral failure had become public property. Someone in the comments here on American Blog (worth a read, please) called them “zombified kids” and suggests that maybe Gayle should have told the reporter to stuff it but she was shell-shocked and felt powerless to do so.

I saw that look once on my mothers face.

The first few days of a situation like this are surreal. “Zombie” fits the description. You spend so much energy getting your head around the situation that you don’t have time to really process it for yourself. Its really hard for kids who have never navigated those waters before. You carry your dad’s dumbbell around with you to help him with the weight, as you feel you must. But after a while, you realize there are other weighted issues tugging on you.

Dumbell 15 Kg

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Going back to school, or work, or youth group puts you in touch with reality. And the way people look at you different. And you have to ask yourself if the relationships that were intact last week have been downgraded or worse, casualties of the fallout.

Many years ago, when we were teenagers, a young boy ‘outed’ my dad at a Christian boarding school where we lived, where my dad was a school teacher. A few other boys added their own stories and my dad told me that “the stories are true”. I accompanied him to the courthouse but I didn’t go in. I just walked around . . . thinking . . . until they were done.

Back at the school, my dad was fired immediately with a silenced weapon. We were ushered out of our house and into nowhere all within a few days. We thought the chaplain would come over and give some words of consolation but Father Frank stayed away from our quarantined house.

We were scum. We felt guilty for what our dad did with those boys but we [or at least I] also felt guilty for destabilizing a Christian institution that had suddenly shifted into emergency gear and the ministry of damage control. We left without incident and no one waved goodbye to us. We vanished, just like they wanted it.

It was our dad who committed the shameful act but we all bathed in that shame. No one wanted a part of it. Or us. No one wanted to be contaminated. We were the fallout family. Much better to have us just go away and disappear.

Which we did, actually. Mum found a house to rent and Dad was not invited. Within a few months, some of us had found other places to live. None of us would ever come back to be a family again.

Now, 25 years later, we are raising our own families. Dad passed away 2 years ago, which is why i am more open about this than I used to be. I loved my dad and I still honor him. I miss him. But I do not excuse him. And I forgive him for putting us through the silent hell that is most vivid in my memory in the expressions on people’s faces.

You don’t have to commit the act to feel shame. Shame spills over, and it spills on to the ones you love. I know what shame feels like. And it sucks power from you. You feel like crap and you are powerless to do anything about it.

The following day, the day after THAT day, I mustered enough courage to tell someone outside my little world about my dad and the boys and the events that had just transpired. “Ohhh!” he said, without hesitation, “Your dad’s gay and so are you!”

I wasn’t. But he made me feel like I was.

And the word p******philia is so repulsive to me that i cannot even write it out here. [Actually, i don’t think i know how to spell that word and I don’t want to look it up]

Got shame?

Makes me think about the Haggard kids and what their friends will say to them at school. Jay Bakker once told me that when he went back to school, after his dad’s fall, that his Christian friends shunned him but the punks befriended him. Jay was a fallout kid also.

Makes me think about Jesus on the cross, bearing MY shame, my fallout, my dumbbell, being numbered with the transgressors and counted among the criminals.

Makes me think about my own life.

Makes me committed to keep up boundaries so that my kids do not have to go through what many of us already have.



deliver us from evil

and our own crap

teach us to bear the shame of others when we need to

but also teach us to reject the shame

that we have no right to carry around

help us to stand firmly

walk uprightly

live truthfully

that we might forgive our parents

and be free of what cursed them

that generational patterns of sin

might have no hold over our own families

that our children may rise above our own weaknesses

and our dumb choices.

and loosen our fingers on THAT **** DUMBBELL

so that you can take it from us.



“Come to Me,

all who are weary and heavy-laden,

and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you

and learn from Me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For My yoke is easy

and My burden is light.”


God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don’t tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Bible

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Ted Haggard. The Video

Meth Was a Bad Choice

Haggard and the Hazzard of Hotels

Carrying Your Dad’s Dumbbell

Gayle Haggard: An Excellent Woman Who Can Find?


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.

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