by Richard Tait:
We have never lived near family. From the day I left for the Korea Pusan mission over three decades ago
I never lived more than a few weeks at a time with those who raised me or who were raised with me. A
product of the BYU marriage factory, my wife and I headed for Maryland seeking fame and fortune and
a family of our own. All we found was our own tiny family of four; we have spent the rest of our days out
here, always at least a long day’s drive away from grown brothers and sisters and their own burgeoning
family tribes. Likening the scriptures unto ourselves, I identified somewhat with Book of Mormon Jacob:
“the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being
a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a
To survive in this lonesome world on the East coast, we were forced to adopt ward families—communities of saints with shared beliefs and values, all who ably performed as stand-in brothers and
sisters, sons and daughters, grandkids, cousins and grandparents. Just as all of us are adopted into the
house of Israel, local ward members have been adopted into the house of Tait. As we grew in the gospel
and served in the church, we adopted many individuals and families as our own. In particular, when I
served as a bishop, I developed a fatherly love for many of the youth and young families it was my
privilege to serve. Through the miracle of social media, as a proud “church dad” I can track the joys and
sorrows, the opportunities and challenges, and the accomplishments and setbacks of my adopted
children as they raise their own families and move forward in their professions and relationships. I revel
in their progress and successes, and mourn with them in their variety of trials.
I hope you are listening. Some of you have since experienced difficulties and sorrows that may have
sowed the seeds of doubt in God’s love for you, especially as it is expressed through the gospel of Jesus
Christ—including the commandments and the doctrines of the LDS church. You may have been led to
make decisions that would traditionally disappoint and/or trouble a loving father. Perhaps you have
expressed serious doubts about doctrines and beliefs your church dad raised you in and are wrestling
with your testimonies; others may have turned their spiritual backs on the church and left the fold
altogether, finding this to be the only path to resolve the emotional torture of spiritual dissonance that
haunts your souls.
Know that the size, source, and direction of your doubts and decisions will never damage how much I
will always love you as a cherished member of my church family, even if you don’t consider yourself to
be a member of my church family anymore. I will always love and respect you for who you are—a
beloved son or daughter of an omnipresent Heavenly Father, a divine creation with a divine destiny.
Although I may not personally understand, appreciate, or approve of paths you have chosen, my whole
heart, might, mind, and strength is always open to embrace you in a spirit of love and fellowship. I will
always be available to tenderly and truly listen to your questions and concerns, and help you find
answers and solutions, regardless of how long it takes.
Why? Because that’s what church dads do.
Richard Tait is the proud father of a married son enduring graduate school at ASU, and a beautiful YSA daughter at LDSBC. He has spent 27 of the best years of his life married to the same woman for almost 30 years. Richard writes for his own blog, Mormon Third Eye, where he talks about the Third Eye ... the notorious eye in the back of the head, or the extra view of life that God blesses parents striving to do the right thing with so they can see more of life than the children they chase after. Amazingly, Richard has missed only two Sunday posts in the past 360+ weeks, a streak that started soon after he was released as Seattle Jon's bishop in Maryland.
Image credit: longskull (used with permission).