Pastor and former NFL player Ed Tandy McGlasson offers advice on finding healing from the emotional and psychological wounds you may have suffered as a child from your father. (Part 1 of 2)
Listen online, or download from our store.
Ed McGlasson: And like the Father right during that moment just showed me. He said, "Well ... He just kinda spoke this into my heart, "Well, the reason why you talked to your son that way, is because that's the way you talk to yourself."
End of Teaser
John Fuller: Well, too many people today unfortunately, are feeling the residual effects of a broken home. The father wasn't present perhaps and on today's "Focus on the Family," you'll hear from a man who worked through some of those issues. And it took decades of his life and you'll learn how Christ set him free. Our host is Focus president, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and Jim, this is a topic that you care deeply about
Jim Daly: Oh, I do, John. I can relate to our guest today in a deeply personal way because of my own circumstances as a child. And there are many more men and women who are growing up in homes where dad was not there. Like me, he was an orphan and there was a lot of pain associated with trying to find purpose and longing for his father's blessing. And that's what we're gonna talk about today with Ed McGlasson.
He's a pastor in Southern California, a speaker at conferences around the country and around the world. He was also in the NFL in the '70's and '80's and I'm lookin' forward to a couple of those stories. He's been married for over 30 years and he has five kids. Welcome to the program, Ed.
Ed: Hey, it's an honor to be here.
Jim: Okay, we gotta start with those stories. We were talking about you going toe to toe with Reggie White. Now (Chuckling) I don't want all the folks in the audience who have no idea about football, hang on, 'cause we're gonna talk about some serious stuff here. But talk about being a man going up against [pro football players].
Ed: I'll tell you about my very first play in the NFL. I'm a rookie, trying to make the team. And so, they shoot the rookies out in the first quarter, 'cause Joe Fields, the center of the Jets was hurt, and so, I got to start. Our first game was against Pittsburgh Steelers.
They were the biggest African-Americans on a defensive line in history. And not only that, they were all incredibly fast.
Jim: Fast, strong, intimidating.
Ed: [They were] Intimidating and just, I mean, they just were amazing. And I remember turning around, and the guy who was in front of me was "Mean Joe Greene" (Laughter) Now I'm lookin' at this guy, and I mean, he's huge. He's 6-7 ½", 6'8" and long arms, and so, he looks at me and just kind of goes up to the line, and [the] very first play is, it's always off tackle.
And so, I had a good step, got a good step on him. Somehow he got a little tripped up, and I drove him over, pancaked him and landed on his chest. I'm thinkin', I'm the man, baby! I'm the man! And I'm layin' on him, and he looks at me and I noticed two things. No. 1, his shoulder pads were not hooked up. They were loose! And he looks at me and goes, "Hey, rookie, this is preseason. (Laughter) Don't hurt me today." And I'm thinkin' (Laughter), oh, man.
And so, I'm trying to have a great quarter, and it's about the end of the first quarter. And Joe is, you know, and brothers in the NFL, they do this thing where they act like you've just whooped them. Lawrence Taylor used to do that on the Giants. And you go up there, and then they dog you. And Joe went down and looks at me and just like, man, you're just killin' me today. And I went to hit him, and he jumps around me like a cat. (Laughter) Grabs—
Jim: Made you miss.
Ed: --me. I landed like a 747 without landing gear on my belly. And he grabs Richard Todd, flips him upside down, drives his helmet into the turf, and I knew I was in trouble, 'cause I heard the crowd, "Ooh!" and my last name being screamed by the head coach.
Jim: Yeah. (Laughter)
Ed: So, I'm in trouble. And then I get up. I'm goin' back to the huddle, and here's Joe with a little swanky move and he goes, "Hey, rookie." And I said, "What, Joe?" "I just wanted you to know who I was." (Laughter)
Jim: That's one play for you.
Ed: Oh, my goodness (Laughter).
Jim: Okay, let's get to it though, Ed. I mean, we're talkin' about your book here, The Father You've Always Wantedand you share that story. You got to the NFL, even though you were that kid that didn't have your biological father. Talk about that story. What happened to your dad?
Ed: My story started on May the 29th, 1956. My birth dad was a test pilot in the Navy and he was flying the Fury 3 jet at the time, so that's a lot of Furies ago. We're at the what? Twenty-three Raptor, we're up there somewhere.
And as he would do at nighttime before he'd go to sleep every night, laying [sic] next to my mom, Jean, who was very pregnant with me, I was just about eight months, you know, there bakin' in the belly, you know. And he would read his Bible. And he opened up his Bible to something, and he took out a red pen and he had this really strange look on his face, and he circled a word. He closed it and looked at my mother and she had this woman's intuition moment and said, "Ed, am I gonna lose you?" And he said, "No, why would you say that?" She said, "Well, you had a really strange look on your face."
Well, they went to sleep that night and he woke up at 0-dark-30 and he did something really unusual. He took off these dog tags.
Jim: Oh, that you got around your neck.
Ed: You can hear 'em in the microphones. And he laid 'em on the bedside table. He kissed my mother goodbye, and the next day at 1:15 in the afternoon, he had to make a last-second decision. His plane was in a crash dive. His engine was overheating. His oxygen system was failing, and his words over the intercom were, "This is November Papa 88, takin' it in."
The problem was, it was Memorial Day weekend, and if he would've bailed out, his plane might've glided into the beaches. But he rode it in and gave his life for our country. And I lost my dad. A month later I was born without a father and my mother didn't want me not to have a dad in my story, so she went back to the Naval Academy to find another midshipman.
And she was tryin' to find a safe guy, so she chose this guy named Dan McGlasson. My name is Ed Tandy, which is my birth dad's name. McGlasson is my stepdad's name. And she thought that he would be the safe guy, right? And so, she ended up, you know, dating him, goes to June Week, and it was a really courageous thing for him to take a girl in those days who already had a baby.
Ed: And so, that's, you know, kudos to Dan, but he really struggled in his own story. When he was 13-years-old, his daddy, who was a Cajun, pretty tough Cajun guy, who had this thing in him that a real man is never afraid of anything. And he would try to beat that into my stepdad. And one day he discovered, he found it from his wife, my dad's mom, that he was afraid he would drown one day in the water. So, he took him to a bridge outside of Lake Charles, Louisiana in a truck. Didn't tell him why they were goin' there. Grabbed him out of the truck and threw him off the bridge into the river--
John: Oh, my.
Ed: --and yells at him and says, "Sink or swim. Die or try. It's up to you, boy, if you make it."
Ed: Guess what service my stepdad chose in the Navy, submarine service. I meet men and women, you know, all the time, who tried to live down what their dad thought about 'em. They live in this wound, you know in their own heart, because their dad wasn't there.
And so, without a dad in my story, you know, my mom, who was just madly in love with my natural father, and really sort of tolerated Dan. Dan was a solid guy, but he didn't know how to look at you and say, "I love this about you, son."
Ed: He knew how to drive me to be a football player, but mean, he would drop me away from the house five miles when I was a young kid with ankle weights on and I would have to run home for breakfast five days a week.
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
Ed: 'Cause he wanted me to be a great athlete. And so, it was like, "Hey, wake up." Five in the morning, "Aah!." Sears air horn, leg weight. I didn't have any hair on the lower part of my legs for the first 10 years of my life, because those ankle weights would slide up and down and chafe my legs and …
Jim: What if you said no? What if you said, "I don't [want to]?"
Ed: Oh, you don't get that option in my house.
Jim: And what would've been the consequences?
Ed: Oh, it would've been ugly. And at times it was, when Jack Daniels was flowing. And and you know, and here's the truth [for] I mean, people that are listening--Fathers don't wake up in the morning and decide to be mean and not bless their kids. They wake up in the morning all over the world because their dad has never blessed them. So, they had nothing put into them as men.
And so, now they're biological fathers with kids who want blessing. They want life. "Dad, what do you think about me?" "Daddy, am I beautiful enough as a daughter?" "Dad, do I have what it takes as a son?" Right, and their own broken story, you know, that keeps them from making it about their kids. And I mean, I meet dads all the time who love their children. One of the coolest things that we get to do in our ministry is watch older dads get their families back.
Ed: It's never too late to become a great father, if God gets to be your father in your story.
Jim: Ed, let me go back to your story, because you covered a lot of ground there in terms of being a father after not having the dad you wanted, which again, is the title of your book, The Father You've Always Wanted. You've had this destructive relationship with your stepdad. He's in effect, bullying you, if I could be bold enough to say it. I mean, he's having you run five miles a day when you're a young boy, 'cause he wants you to be an athlete. You certainly fulfilled that, becoming an NFL lineman.
But when you look at it, when you're a teenager, was there bitterness? How did you process what was going on in your home and not get upset with your stepfather, Dan and you're a big guy. I mean, you're an NFL lineman. You probably could've handled Dan, even at 16, 17. What was goin' on in your heart and your head when you got this abuser as a stepfather?
Ed: Well, you know, he wasn't physically abusive, but he just emotionally didn't know how to speak life. And do you know what you do? You put your heart down. And then you prove yourself with everything you do.
I mean, how many guys do we know that they spend their whole life trying to get to that next level? And so, they're not there for their kids. And that was me. I mean, I struggled with, you know, I didn't have any play time. It was either working out or eating right or taking care of the family or cooking dinner and then on the other side, it didn't help that my mom was just still in love with my father, that she would come to me and go, "You know, your dear father had one dream in his life, that if he could play professional football, but he died, but his son, his only son, and if you could play professional football, he would look down from heaven and be so proud." That screws up a kid.
Jim: Well, yeah.
Ed: I mean, I'm lookin' to a dead dad. I gotta be perfect. I gotta a stepdad. I mean, we can't smile if we lose a game in our house, 'cause losin' is not funny. If we laugh or told a joke, we got popped. And it was because he was so competitive in his own story, because of his own wound with his dad, because his dad never let him arrive.
We love our fathers, even when they're wicked, when they're bad. We want them to, you know, in fact, when you write about in Finding Home in your book, you know, you went through so much of this stuff in your life and still, you were waiting for your dad to say, "Hey, Jim, man, let me tell you all the things I love about you."
Jim: Yeah, I mean, I'm wanting to parlay this into every man's and daughter's situation. The question is, for me, that box was, I felt very neutral. I felt like God somehow in His divine ability, was able to neutralize some of that pain for me.
Ed: Oh, yeah.
Jim: And I'm so grateful to my heavenly Father for that. I didn't have a sense of bitterness. I think I had pain. I felt loneliness, but it was almost a forerunner for what the Lord was gonna do to come into my heart and say, "I'm here for you."
Ed: That's right.
Jim: And yet, with my older brother, who ironically played football, Mike, I mean, he's a big guy, 6'5", 6"6", 300 pounds back when he played, he was the one that did have the fist fights with my dad.
Jim: I never got spanked. But you look at my brother, who took a lot of the brunt of that angst from my father and he still, you know, deals with that pain. And I see that more in his heart than I see that in my own.
Ed: But God's been workin' on you for a long time.
Jim: Well, that's true. But how does a guy who knows what you're saying—
Jim: --who has never felt a father's love in that way, never felt a father's embrace, never [received] the blessing, as you describe it, maybe now they're 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-years-old, how do they come around to that and say, "Okay, here's how I begin to change?
Ed: Well, let me tell you a little bit more about my story. And so, I wasn't raised in a Christian home. My mom, her mother was a Christian Scientist. My grandfather was an Episcopalian, but church wasn't part of our life at all.
And so, everything that I did in my old story was, I'm gonna perform my way into the identity that I need. That's one of the biggest traps the devil puts on all of us. 'Cause if we're gonna be wealthy businessmen, say that's our name. But, what if you lose your job, or you leave your company? Then who are you? Those are all activities.
I mean, and I'll tell you this later. I used to be a pastor. Now pastoring is what I do. And so, I was struggling in my story. And there was a fumble in the middle of the field, right between my legs in college, and a young freshman dove through my left knee, and went for the ball. And I heard my knee break. I mean, it just ripped to the inside.
The doctors took me to the hospital and told me I tore all three ligaments in my knee, and that I would need major reconstructive surgery. Gave me ice bags and a soft cast, sent me back to the dorm. Don't eat anything after 12 o'clock. You're gonna have surgery the next day. And I went into my room, and I'd never felt so devastated in my life, and it had nothing to do with the injury. I just lost my name.
Jim: Your identity.
Ed: Everything that I worked my life for, what my mom was pushing me towards, what my stepdad was pushing me towards. And I was laying in the bed, I was just weeping, all alone in the dark. And I got a knock on the door. (Sound of knocking) It was a guy I'd never met before. His name was Bill Romanowski. He was a campus minister for a Presbyterian Church.
And he said, "Hey, hey, Eddie." I said, "Yeah." He said, "I heard about what happened." I said, "Yeah." He said, "You know, Ed, you just lack one thing." I said, "What's that?" He said, "Jesus Christ." I looked at him and I said, "What's He gonna do for me here? I mean, where was He when this happened?"
See, I wasn't a church kid. I didn't even really know any Scripture. And he didn't argue with me. He just opened his Bible, and he read out loud, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and His only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life."
And in that moment, that was the first time in my moment where I heard the Word of God. And when I heard that Scripture, my heart was completely opened. And he looked at me, and he says, "How would you like to be forgiven?" I said, "That's impossible. I've done too much." "How would you like to be completely forgiven? All you gotta do is ask God right now."
And I had this faith in me that I'd never felt before and I said, "Fine." And I prayed with him and asked Christ in my life, "Forgive me." Lots of tears, lots of hugging. And then he said, "Can I pray for your knee?" And I said, "Sure." And he put his hand on my ice bag and said, "Heal this knee in Jesus' name."
Well, I didn't feel anything, 'cause my knee was frozen from the ice packs. The next morning at 6 o'clock in the morning, the ambulance was there. I hobbled down the stairs. They put me in a wheelchair and rolled me in for surgery. Put on the dress that doesn't tie in the back--
Jim: (Chuckling) Yeah, right.
Ed: --on normal-size guys. And on a gurney I went to another exam, an orthogram test, 'cause they didn't have the scope back them.
Ed: And they do the test and the doctor comes out shaking his head, Dr. Vuchsta. He was the team surgeon at the time. He said, "I just don't understand this, Ed. Here's our X-rays yesterday. You can see the damage with the cartilage and we assumed there was all this ligament damage, because of the way your knee was floppin' around, and here's the orthogram. Somehow those ligaments that seemed to be torn yesterday have been reattached."
Ed: And I just leaped off of the gurney. I leaped and landed on my leg and it was perfect.
Ed: And I just started bawlin' right there in the dress, right? (Laughter) And just started to scream, "Hallelujah!" I mean, I guess that's what you're supposed to do, when like, God does somethin'. And I go on this long walk and I'm walkin' back to the dorm, and I'm cryin', and God is, you know, after my heart. 'Cause I never experienced forgiveness. And I also never experienced the love of God before. Everything I got was because of what I did and performed, but I never got to experience how God loved me.
Jim: You know, Ed, a lot of men and women have felt that way with their relationship with their father. It's all been performance-based. You achieve; I reward. In some way, you get my affection, you get my notice. You get my pat on the back.
Ed: That's right.
Jim: You sound like you--for the first time--found that in Christ.
Jim: So everything changed.
Ed: I got a huge piece, but I didn't understand performance in light of grace and the Gospel.
Jim: That was still to come.
Ed: Oh, boy, I mean and I tell you, when it hit me. It was kinda like my mean Joe Greene moment, right? (Laughter) When I held up my son, Edward in the delivery room, and I gave him his first football and I have a picture of me biting the embryotic cord, you know. Who do you show that to, you know?
Jim: Your teammates only. (Laughter)
Ed: And I held Edward, you know and realized in that moment, I didn't know how to be a father.
Jim: Wow, yeah.
Ed: And it wasn't that I didn't love him. It was because I felt this lack in me, 'cause see, when a man doesn't have a blessing in his life and he doesn't have that from God, you know, that incredible Scripture in Galatians, "When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we could receive adoption as sons. And if sons, He has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts where we get to cry 'Abba Father.' And if sons, then we're no longer slaves."
It's like this incredible thing. But I never experienced that for me and my wife is feeding me books, because now I have Edward. And then I have Jessica and she's the estrogen swimmer, and then I got Mary. She's another one and so, now I have three girls who are mad at me all the time. Then I have "Luke the Duke," you know and Joshua David. So, I got all these kids and I was drivin' 'em. My conversations were just like my stepfather.
Jim: What did that sound like?
Ed: Well, I had this moment one day, where Edward wasn't doing what I wanted him to do. So, I went into his room and I said things that I couldn't believe came out of my mouth, because he told me no. I was so angry, I started crying and he was weeping.
And I went to my study, and I just cried out to the Lord and I said, "God, why did I do that? Why did I say that to my son? I love him with all my heart," 'cause I tried everything in me not to be similar in some of the experiences that I had when I was a kid, but it came right out of me.
And like the Father right there in that moment just showed me. He just kinda spoke this into my heart. "Well, the reason why you talked to your son that way, is because that's the way you talk to yourself.
You've learned how to hear Me, Ed, through the broken filter of when your stepfather was drunk and angry, but that's not who I am. If you'll learn to hear Me the way My Son did, I'll make you the kind of man and father that makes a difference."
And you know, how you have that moment where God shows you your whole life. My marriage was all about me. I'm tryin' to get my identity on the way my wife's treating me. My kids' performance was all about me. My church was all about me. I was so broken.
And then my wife starts feeding me these fathering books. First book I got, you know, Bringing Up Boys, James Dobson. I read the first chapter and I'm like, I'm doing 400 things wrong. And so, I closed that, and then I buy another one. I read the first [part]; oh, I'm doin' all this wrong.
And my issue was, "God, you know, how do I stop the focus in my heart against me trying to find out who I am, and I can focus on being a dad that unlocks that identity in my kids?" And so, I come across this Scripture and the baptism of Jesus. And I preached it before, and I've done it before, and this Scripture is Jesus being baptized.
And He comes out of the water, and in a moment, the manifestation of the Trinity is all in one place—the Father, His voice, the Son is coming out of the water and the Holy Spirit is equipping Him, right? So, when we are born again in Him, and we come out of that river, we get the same Father He had in His story--
Ed: --and the same blessing.
Jim: Well, I mean, that is powerful, and there are gonna be lots of people, Ed, who have never experienced that kind of relationship with their dad. They never had that blessing. They've never heard those words, "I love you." They never perhaps even had a hug from their dad--
Jim: --and that's part of the issue. And it's a powerful reminder that first and foremost, just like your story suggests, you start with that most important relationship--
Ed: That's right.
Jim: --and it's with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ed: You know, you can't get anything without Him.
Jim: And so, I mean, that's where it begins. If you want to feel a father's love, lean into God. He's Your Creator. He's your Abba Father, like you said. It's a beautiful aspect of Scripture.
And I know that as a result of this discussion today about father wounds, there is someone who is feeling that tug by the heavenly Father to call us today, to reach out and to begin that healing process. You may have been wounded by your dad and you may need some counseling that will help just make you think about it differently, rather than being bitter or resentful, to turn that into something like Romans 8:28 says, something good in your relationship with God.
We are here to help you and for those of you who are in a good place relationally, can I ask you to help us help those that are struggling? We can only do this together and we can't do it by ourselves. You stand with us in ministry when you can support us financially and pray for this day, for those people who are going to call that need that help. And if I can ask you to send a gift today to allow us to be there for the folks that are in pain, that would be wonderful. And as a way of saying thank you for standing with us, I'll send along the book, The Father You've Always Wanted by Ed McGlasson.
Ed, we've talked about a father's love today and what I'd like to do is come back next time and talk about the sanctification process, and what I mean by that, for those who may not understand it, is how the Lord begins to train you up as a child of God and that's where some of the bruises can happen, and where you don't necessarily understand all that's going on. But He will begin to correct you, 'cause He loves you. And can we stick with it and do that?
Ed: Let's do it.
Jim: All right.
John: And once again, we're offering Ed's book called The Father You've Always Wanted in which you'll learn it's never too late to get healing for a father wound. It really offers a beautiful picture of God's grace and redemption. And let me note that because of some generous friends of Focus on the Family, when you donate today, your gift will be doubled and have twice the impact. We'll also have a CD or a download of this broadcast and we'll include the next visit with Ed, as well. Call 1-800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or visit us at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time, when we'll hear more from Ed McGlasson, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
Featured Broadcast Resource
Help families in crisis with your donation of any amount, and receive a copy of Ed Tandy McGlasson's book The Father You've Always Wanted!Give Now (Available to U.S. residents only)
Jim Daly shares insights from his book The Good Dad. Learn how to enhance your family legacy by becoming an irreplaceable component in your child’s life.Read more
We want to show you how a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can bring you into God's eternal family, and introduce you to life on a whole new level.Read more
Talk to one of our counselors or get a referral to a counselor in your area.Read more
A man who has had a difficult relationship with his father isn't doomed to repeat the past. You can be different from your dad.Read more
Recent Focus on the Family Broadcast EpisodesGo To Most Recent Episode