A Letter to My Dad

Dad,

It’s been a while since we last talked, but I think about you nearly everyday. When I do think of you, my heart aches. There are so many things I wish we could change about our past and about our current relationship. Or, I should say, lack of relationship.

I try not to hold anything against you and the trajectory our relationship has been on since I was eleven, but the day you left our lives, it crushed me like a ton of bricks. I do, however, have to say thank you. Thank you for teaching me what forgiveness is and how I have to choose everyday to walk in forgiveness. It doesn’t come naturally. I have to choose it. I also can’t condemn myself for those moments where I am just angry at where we are and how my life has had to be lived without you.

It feels like I have been half a person for the last 25 years. Not fully knowing who I am and being ashamed that I don’t have my dad around. Did you know that I didn’t have many close friends in high school because I was ashamed that they may find out about my family dynamic and would never want to be around me again? Did you know that because you left, mom had to get multiple jobs to support our family and I got left taking care of my brothers?

I was eleven and I immediately had to step into adulthood. I didn’t have the choice of being an adolescent and making mistakes. There were two boys to help raise.

Did you know I taught Ray and Wes all the things a dad is suppose to teach their sons? But, guess what? I didn’t cover everything because I was still trying to figure it out myself. Sure we had a step-dad around, but I couldn’t let him in. Once your the alpha of a house, it is incredibly difficult to turn over those reins while you still live there.

Guess who became the mediator? Who problem solved and disciplined and fixed relationships? Guess who mom leaned on to make our family work and to keep going? It definitely wasn’t the person it should have been, you.

Your actions stole away my childhood from me and I will never get that back. I just want you to say that you are sorry. But, I don’t think you can, because that would be taking responsibility for our relationship being non-existent. From the texts that I have received from you, I get the sense that you don’t feel responsible.

I look at other men and their dad’s a feel a sense of jealousy when their dad is their best friend. Their dad isn’t trying to control them or manipulate their relationship. He is a friend and a close advisor. Their dad helps them navigate fatherhood and is there to ask questions and give advise. Who do I have to turn to? So many aspects of life have been taken away.

What I’ve come to realize is that my relationship with you affects how I view my relationship with God. Father’s give their sons identity, confidence, and security. All of which, I have been lacking, but am now finding more and more of in my Heavenly Father.

The problem is me getting past seeing God in the same light in which I see you. Aloof and selfish are not characteristics of God. It’s hard for me to see how God actually cares about my life and wants to know the intimate details. It’s hard to see how God values me and wants a relationship with me. He watches over me and cares about who I am becoming. He speaks to me all day long and wants the best for me. It’s incredibly hard to see these things in God, because I don’t see them in you.

I know I can’t hold you to God’s standards, but I wish you were more like him. I wish things were different and that you had never left. Another wish is that we were best friends and that I could lean into our relationship.

One of my biggest joys would be to do life with you. But, for true reconciliation to happen, I need you to take responsibility and the first step. I want this more than you will ever know. When I think of you, I want to see God through that same lens. I know it’s possible. You just have to be willing to walk the lonely street of humility. I know you can do it because, for 25 years, the street of humility is all I’ve known.

I guess the last thing for me to say is, “I forgive you, dad.”

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Greatness is Within You

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do something “great” with my life. I’ve wanted to impact the lives of tens of thousands of people and leave an indelible mark on humanity. I’d be lying if I said, at times, it didn’t have anything to do with an insatiable desire to be famous.

In elementary school, I just knew I was going to be a famous baseball player. I was a utility player on the field, which means, I could play any position the coach wanted me to and I could bat anywhere in the line-up he saw fit. I was a pretty good ball player. My favorite position was shortstop. I collected baseball cards and dreamt of being the next Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey, Jr., or Mark Grace. Baseball is where I thought I would leave my mark.

In high school, however, I switched sports and moved to playing football full time. The man reason was because the baseball team had to be on the field at 5 a.m. every morning for practice. I mean I was good, but I also loved sleep. The more I played football, the more I could see my dreams shift from being famous in baseball to being the next Jerry Rice. I wasn’t the biggest, strongest (I was literally the weakest), or fastest kid on the team, but what I lacked in physical ability, I made up for with heart and determination.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, some of the seniors told me they would understand if I quit the team. They said they wouldn’t hold it against me and doubted I would even last the season. Being on the scout team means you’re just a tackling dummy to get the starters prepared. Not only did I make it through the season, in practice, I intercepted a pass over one of those seniors and took it end zone to end zone. I just knew I was destined for greatness, and this was just the beginning.

Throughout my childhood and even into high school, I also dreamt of going to Hollywood to become an actor. I’ve always been dramatic and really enjoyed the plays I was a part of, memorizing lines, becoming someone else, and making people laugh. It was a dream for sure, but I did give it serious consideration as I approached my senior year of high school and had no idea of my next step. The biggest thing holding me back was fear of the unknown. How would I get there? What would I do to survive? Would I be any good? Could I learn to be great?

In college, I dreamt of being an incredible youth pastor that spoke to 5000 teenagers every week and would see thousands of teenagers give their hearts to God. Subsequently, when I became a children’s director, 5000 teenagers turned into 5000 kids. I don’t know what it is about the number 5000, but it always just seemed fitting.

If I am being completely honest, I still have the thoughts and feelings even to this day. But, it’s not about a number anymore. It has morphed into making the greatest impact possible through reaching men, women, teenagers, and kids. It’s going above and beyond to serve the community that I am a part of and to make a difference.

I have since learned a few valuable lessons about what “greatness” is and how I can leave an indelible mark on the world.

1. Greatness happens in small moments with people, not huge, life-altering events.

Coming from a broken home and growing up without a father, I always knew that I would have a special bond with others who have or are currently going through the same thing. Greatness isn’t necessarily about reaching tens of thousands of other people who have the same type of experience. Greatness is making the most of every opportunity to impact someone’s life, here and now.

Sunday afternoons are usually a time for me to just slowdown and me to hit up my “nothing box” because for the first six hours of the day I am managing numerous volunteers, the safety of kids, and speaking to our elementary students. So, before I go to our connect group, I try to shutdown. I’ll scroll through Facebook and Instagram, catching up on what I missed throughout the day. Also, checking to see what people’s reactions to church were that week.

Last week, however, I chose to take on a task around the house. Just before we headed out the door to our connect group, I checked Facebook and Instagram as normal. But, when I came to Instagram, I got a notification that someone had mentioned me in a comment with a picture of me and her son.

*Picture of Landen and me above

Kameron Morrow, Landen’s mom, posted this comment:

“What do you see here? Just two goofy dudes taking a selfie right??! You know what “I” see? I see admiration. I see a role model and a child who needs shaping. I see an opportunity. I see Jesus’ love. I see the start to a beautiful relationship..

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This is my son Landen and @sammyfloyd. Sammy is the children’s pastor at our church. This morning after service, Landen came and asked if he could borrow my phone to take a selfie of him and Sammy. Sure. No prob. When he came back, he was smiling ear to ear. He was so proud of that picture. Then he requested I send it to his iPod touch so he could save it as his lock screen.

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This might not seem earth shattering to you, but to me, it was huge. You see- Sammy didn’t have a father growing up. And he has made it his life’s mission to reach out to others (esp kids) to make sure the feel their HEAVENLY father’s love.

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Landen’s biological dad abandoned him a few years back and life just hasn’t been the same. I’m so thankful for  loving kids pastor that takes the time to invest into these kid’s lives. Thank you, @sammyfloy for all you do @fc_tulsa. We are so thankful for you.”

Sometimes we get so fixated on the big events that will make the greatest impact, we lose sight of the small opportunities right in front of us. When Landen had asked to take a selfie with me, I didn’t think anything of it. I wish I would have seen it at the time for what it was. It was a small opportunity to make a great impact. Getting this message brought tears to my eyes.

2. Greatness happens in small moments with my kids.

It is still a tendency for me to strive to be the greatest.

I was even so bold enough to pray and ask God to make His name great through me and then I begin to tell God how He could achieve this goal. Sometimes our “noble deeds” are rot with a little bit of self-centeredness and wanting the recognition.

God has a funny way of turning how we feel on it’s head. And for me it was while praying this way one minute and then seeing my two kids the next.

It was as if God were sitting next to me and saying, “The greatest mark you can leave on humanity that changes the world, is being “great” in your kids eyes. It is being a great dad, making Jesus known to them, and also, raising them to treat others the way they want to be treated. It’s teaching them to love God and love others as themselves.”

I don’t want to be the guy who saves the whole world, but loses his kids. My family is my greatest legacy. Jonas and Eliana are my stamp to leaving an indelible mark on this world.

3. Greatness happens in small moments with God.

Mark Batterson, pastor and author, puts it this way in several of his books, “If we do small things like they are big things, God will do big things like they are small things.”

The small things we need to do consistently over time to make the greatest impact is pray and read the Bible. It seems so basic and trivial, yet most of us struggle to make the time to do either. This way we can effectively commune with God. Prayer is us talking to God and the Bible is God’s word to us. Yet, we tend to rely on our last experience with God to get us through to the next experience.

Prayer, communion with God, gets our hearts in tune with what God wants. It, also, makes the desire to do great things less about us and more about making His name famous.

“We have a tendency to confuse our job and God’s job. We want to do amazing things for God, but that isn’t our job. That’s God’s job! He is the One who does amazing things for us. Our job is to consecrate ourselves. And if we do our job, God is going to do His job.”

To consecrate ourselves literally means to set apart. It’s doing things that don’t make sense to the world, but brings us closer to God.

“Greatness” doesn’t come from what other people (friends, extended family, people I don’t know) think of us. “Greatness” comes from the legacy we leave behind. When people think of us, are their hearts filled with love for Jesus or thoughts of a self-centered person. Am I someone they can turn to and rely on? Do I make myself available to them? Put their needs ahead of my own? Serve them? Lead them towards Jesus?

Time spent with God is the only way we can keep our hearts and minds attuned to those around us. It is, also, the only way we can fulfill loving God and loving others.

Greatness isn’t defined by the job I have, but by the life I lead. Making the most of every small moment with people, with my kids, and with God will lead me to make the greatest impact and leaving an indelible mark.

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Difficulty and Reward

Sammy Floyd family

After 15 years of marriage and two kids, I’ve learned one thing to be true…the most rewarding things and the most difficult things in life are usually one in the same. My wife and I will tell you that there are peaks and valleys. There are times when it feels like you are so high that nothing can touch you. But, there are also times that you have to wage war together.

In marriage, you have to work at your relationship daily. You’ve got to make daily deposits in order to feel all the feels 15..20..50 years later. It’s work because sometimes you just don’t feel like giving anymore.

As men, we just want to fix the problems away and we feel like it should be that simple. Analyze, assess, and execute. But, life doesn’t always work that way. I am learning that sometimes Alissa just wants me to “feel’ through it with her. To feel the emotions she is feeling and process my emotions along the way.

I’m a fixer and a doer by nature. If Alissa is upset, I either want to fix the situation right away or do something, like clean the kitchen or bathrooms or the whole house, just to help make things better. It’s the only thing I know to do because I’m not great at processing my feelings.

I’m learning, however, it isn’t about my fixing and doing. It’s taking the time to actually listen and to understand how she is feeling and how I or someone else has made her feel. It’s putting myself in her shoes with her emotions to understand and empathize. Then, and only then, can we truly connect and work through whatever comes our way.

Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an action and a choice. You don’t always feel like it, but working on your marriage is a daily choice. You gave an oath to do it for the rest of your life. Don’t take the easy way out. If love is worth it, it’s worth the work.

In parenting, a lot of the same principles of a loving relationship apply. To be a great parent, you have to be willing to empty yourself and give until it hurts and then, give more.

From sleepless nights to toy room fights, patience plays a huge role in everyones survival. Early on, your children are completely dependent on you and when you get one child to a stage of some semblance of independence, you have a second. Your second child is nothing like your first, in the way they act, feel, and respond. You have to unlearn what worked for the first child because it doesn’t work for the second.

Through all the ups and downs of parenting, it is hard to not lose your spouse in the shuffle. It’s as if you are two robots, constantly meeting the needs of your two pint-sized owners and you only see each other in passing. By the time you get your kids to bed, it feels as though you have climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and came back down all in one evening. Your bodies begin shutting down from exhaustion. Where in the world am I going to get the energy to work on my marriage?

As I am learning, in this current stage of life, you’ve got to be intentional with your time. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. Not only is this true with your kids, but especially true with your spouse. Become creative in how you spend time together. We can’t afford a sitter every week, but we can still plan an evening of putting the kids to bed early so that we can just talk, connect, and be a couple.

I’m not perfect as a husband or a father, but I am committed to one thing…working through all the difficult parts to bask in the sunshine of love and marriage.

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Perception is Reality

After months of having a hard time reading the chalkboard at school, signs which we passed by on the highway, and getting headaches from squinting, I got glasses when I was in 8th grade. What a world of difference it makes to be able to see the world clearly, especially for the first time in a long time. I had to wear glasses for an entire year before the eye doctor would let me even try contacts. If you’ve ever worn glasses, you know how cumbersome they can be at times. So, a year later when I was able to get contacts, I welcomed the change!

The goal of every refraction is to get you to see 20/20. When your eye sight is as near-sighted as mine, without contacts or glasses, everything is incredibly blurry. Dark rooms are even harder to see what or whom is in the room. I’ve mistaken people as objects or for someone else completely. Glasses and contacts help me to see the world as it really is.

A truth I have learned, and even more so as I get older, is perception is reality. Our perceptions, whether they are accurate or not, become the reality in which we base our judgments. For instance, on the playground at school, if you were to be punched by the class bully and you retaliated and punched back and were the one caught, you were the one that got in the most trouble. Why? Because they teachers perceived reality is that you are starting a fight. Everything you say after your actions becomes a “he said, he said” debate, especially if the bully denies his actions. For the principal, whatever the teacher perceived to be the truth is all they can draw on to render their verdict.

As a Jr. High and High schooler of the 90’s, it seemed that everyone’s family structure was incredibly sound. I only knew one person whose parents divorced, but by the time I met Brandon, his parents were remarried and it all seemed to be going really well. But, in our worst moments we don’t see the dysfunction in others lives, because we can’t see past our own. The water is murky, especially when it is crashing against you like a tsunami tidal wave.

When my parents’ divorced, I didn’t want anyone to know. I was incredibly ashamed. I no longer invited friends to my house, because I was completely embarrassed. And on top of the embarrassment of divorce, the reason for the divorce, my dad going to jail and the grotesque reason for going to jail, further propelled me into embarrassment and shame. I didn’t let people in to see the mess that was my family. My perception was that my family is more dysfunctional than any other and no one would want to be around me if they truly knew what was going on at home.

I constantly steered conversations away from me. Through my teenage years, it was easy for me to help people through their struggles, because I knew if we were talking about their lives, they wouldn’t ask me about my own. They wouldn’t know about the deep, dark secret in my family life.

I did everything I could to cover up what my dad did and to just blot it out from my family life. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I wanted nothing to do with the parts of me that were like my father.

A year or so after dad went to prison, I was about 13, and an aunt of mine, nonchalantly made a comment comparing my personality to my dad’s and said, “You are going to be just like your daddy.” By that comment, I thought I was doomed to make the same mistakes and life choices in which my father made. That comment sent me on a trajectory to rid myself of anything that resembled my father. I didn’t want to have anything to do with being “like my daddy.” I was embarrassed. I couldn’t handle it. My perception of what she meant set me on a life-path as far away from reflecting my father as possible.

Today, I know she meant nothing by the comment and didn’t even remember saying the statement. She meant that we had similar personalities and that we were both a joy to be around, but in the throws of the embarrassment of my father going to jail and my family being the only people I knew of having to deal with this situation, it wrecked me.

We have to be careful in the assumptions we make and in our perceptions. We have to make sure we fully understand the situation and get all the facts. In this instance, not getting clarity, was my fault and that is an assumption and hurt that I lived with for over 20 years. Not until last year, was I willing to look past my perception to find out the truth. Our perception is our reality, but it may not be the truth. Seek truth over feelings.

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This is My Story

Sammy and Ray at home

I come from a broken home.

We had a pretty normal life. I am from a lower-middle class family. We moved often all around the West Tulsa and Sand Springs area. My parents did everything they could to make ends meet.

Looking back, in those moments, life the way we were living it, seemed normal. Nothing out of the ordinary for sure. My dad would take me fishing on occasion or let me help with whatever project he was working on around the house.

I attended, from time to time, a Baptist church in Sand Springs with my aunt. I specifically remember learning about Jesus on a flannel board and then being bored to tears sitting in “big church”. Playing cars and coloring down on the floor beneath the pew was the only way to pass the time. When I finally got to go home, I’d plead with one of my parents to not make me go back.

I occasionally went to Vacation Bible School with my cousin and even got baptized once or twice. Even still, I never fully understood what Christianity was all about.

I was a good kid, excelled in school, and loved life.

Then, something unbelievable happened that turned my world upside down. My dad went to jail.

As an early adolescent, I had a tough time understanding how something like this could happen to our family.

I remember placing blame, not fully understanding the weight of my words on those around me and just being hurt. Words can’t describe the roller coaster of emotions I went through.

In those following months and years, I was pushed into a role that was never meant for a child. There are so many insecurities and identity issues to contend with when you grow up without a father. I left so many opportunities to have amazing experiences on the table because I was too afraid to take the risk. It felt like my responsibility, duty even, was to help raise my brothers and help them navigate life, and to protect them from outside forces.

I looked for acceptance and influence in any relationships with guys that were older, to be a part of what seemed to be a family. I spent about a year hanging out with a couple of teenagers that were a part of a gang on the north side of Tulsa. The acceptance I felt made me want to be a part of this gang. Fortunately, my friends never let me join. Maybe because I was a white boy amidst 20 hispanic boys or they truly knew I didn’t know what I was getting into. All I saw was a family of guys of which I could belong to.

Eventually, mom remarried and we moved nearly an hour away. Most of my teenage years I had a really hard time connecting with my step-dad and step-brothers. Once you become the alpha male of the house, it is very hard to relinquish those reigns. Especially, when you feel you are more fit to lead your siblings than the next guy. I never looked to my step-dad as an actual father figure, but more of a person with whom to coexist.

A teenage life in a blended family. I struggled to figure out how to become a man and find my identity and to fit in this new family. Constantly, I wrestled with protecting and leading my brothers and helping them to become something I had no clue how to become myself, a man.

My parents started going to church because they wanted to “raise us boys right.” I commend them both. It would be hard to handle six boys and raise them to be good men without a community to influence them.

When my parents started going to church, I was 15 yrs old and well capable of taking care of myself and my little brothers. My sister had moved, so I was the oldest of my siblings and step-siblings in the house. I came up with every excuse you can think of to not go to church. I remembered church as this place I’d waste most of my day at for something I didn’t really understand. “Coming down with something” was a regular occurrence…until my parents forced me to go.

I went to this new church my parents had found. I gave my heart to Jesus. It wasn’t an unusual day for the church, just a normal Sunday. For me, however, it was a day that forever change the trajectory of my life. I finally found acceptance. I finally found the love of a father, of which I had never known. Since that day, my life has been on a course to align my hopes and dreams with that of God’s for my life.

The Holy Spirit has helped me break down a lot of the barriers that have kept me from letting people in and has enabled me to become a better version of me everyday. I don’t claim to be perfect or think I will ever reach perfection, but I know that God loves me just the way I am.

Knowing Jesus, fully, has given my life meaning, given me a purpose. I don’t know how I would ever live without Jesus in my life. I am so thankful for the blessings God has given me and the way He always sees me through the difficult times. It’s why I still believe today.

When all seems lost, Jesus is more real to me in those moments then any other.

God has placed some pretty incredible men in my life at just the right time to help me with every aspect of becoming a man, husband, and father. Here is a thank you to Scott Price, Aaron Malusky, Tim Beitzel, Justin Graves, Scott Heckeroth and countless other men whom have and are living their lives as an example for so many young men to emulate. I wouldn’t be who I am without each of you.

Lastly, I am thankful for my Heavenly Father, for showing me a father’s love. Learning that I have to continually lay down my life for my kids has shown me what it means to fully love them.

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