The Role of Fathers in Their Daughters’ Lives (Guest: Leah Darrow)

The role of a father in a woman’s life cannot be overestimated. Today we’ll talk to a woman whose father was a great example to her about what fathers should do to be good fathers for their daughters. We’ll also look at what women can do who might not have had the best fathers.

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Crisis Point
The Role of Fathers in Their Daughters’ Lives (Guest: Leah Darrow)
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Transcript

Eric Sammons:

The role of fathers in a woman’s life cannot be overestimated. Today, we’re going to talk with a woman whose father was a great example to her about what fathers should do to be good fathers for their daughters, and we’ll also talk about what women can do who might not have had great fathers in their own life.

Hello, I’m Eric Sammons, host and editor in chief of Crisis Magazine. Before we get started, I just want to encourage people to like this video, this podcast. Also, subscribe to the channel, but don’t bother setting notifications because you have a life. Also, we are on many different social media channels. I encourage you to follow us. You can watch this on YouTube, on Facebook, I think Twitter, we also are on Odyssey, and I think we’re also recently on Rumble. So, basically you have no excuse to watch this. So, let’s go and get started. Our guest is Leah Darrow. She is a formal model in reality TV star. She experienced a conversion to Christ and is now a speaker, coach, author, and podcaster, and most importantly, a wife and homeschooling mother of six. She’s a founder of Lux Ministries. Welcome to the program, Leah.

Leah Darrow:

Hey, thanks for having me, Eric.

Eric Sammons:

I think the only other time we’ve been together on a video cast together was at the Mass of the Ages a while back. We were on that together, so that was a lot of fun I know, and they’re still doing great work over there. I don’t know when episode three is coming out, but eventually I think it will be. So, now the subject today is a very great interest to me because I have six daughters and I have three out of the house, in college or graduated from college. I got three at home. So if I screwed up the first three, I’m hoping today you’ll help me with the three that are still in the home, but they’ll tell you whether I screwed up or not. So, why don’t you first just tell us the story about the influence of your own father, particularly on you, but particularly on your own conversion to Christ.

Leah Darrow:

So, I had been living away from my faith for 10 years. At this point when everything kind of came crashing down, I was 25. So, from 15 to 25 I’d been slowly moving away from my faith, mostly because long story short, I just did not think that God would really forgive me. I didn’t think that because I was raised in the church and I was raised with the faith and given so much that I had screwed up so early and I listened to the voice of shame, I just didn’t think that there was a spot for me in the church. It’s not that I didn’t believe in God anymore, I just thought, “How could he really forgive all of me? How could he forgive everything, especially when I knew better?” So, that led me to just slowly stepping away from my faith and of course coupled with my own, continued to be poor decisions, that didn’t help it.

So, I’m now 25. I had already been on America’s Next Top Model, a reality TV show. I was eliminated, staying in New York, working as a professional model, and I’m in this space and it was actually in this moment, I was in the middle of this fashion photo shoot for this international magazine. It was a really big job, really big gig. My paycheck had a comp in it. I thought I was super important and then everything and everything came crashing down. So in the middle of this photo shoot, I just had a moment that I can only explain to be literally a grace from the Holy Spirit, from God himself to save me, and to literally save me because my life wasn’t just a series of not so great decisions because we always know those people, it was a life of very deafening despair and doubt in anything good in me.

I was suicidal, I wanted to end my life pretty much every other day, some days being upset that I’d wake up alive because I just wanted the pain to go away. And so, my life choices were such that I just didn’t care anymore because I just didn’t think that there was any hope for me. So when I say it was dark, it was very dark. Now of course, I say all of this and yet my picture’s in Times Square, it’s on the side of taxi cabs and subways promoting the show. I’m in Fashion Week, I’m working for major names in the fashion industry as in-house models and getting paid a lot of money and none of it took away the pain. All those promises, they definitely are not true. I worked really hard on thinking that fame and money and success would get you to the point where you could forget the pain and it only amplifies it.

So, it was in the middle of this photo shoot and it was supposed to be the next thing in my career, so of course I do it. And in the middle of that shoot, God just touched my heart in an incredibly profound way. I remember being in front of this photographer and I heard a message on my heart. I heard this message that said, “I made you for more.” I heard that five times, “I made you for more,” over and over. The last two times, I will say that the emphasis was on the first part and not the second. It was, “I made you for more.” And in this experience that I had, that I really do believe to be a powerful spiritual experience, I ended up walking out. I walked out of the photo shoot and they made a big to-do about it.

They were yelling and screaming at me at the very end because I had ruined the shoots and I walked out in the middle of the job and I had ruined everybody’s time and money and effort. And the photographer before I left, he looked at me and he said, “If you leave, you’re going to be a nobody. You’re going to be a nobody if you leave, I’ll make sure of it.” And I just looked at him and I responded, “Do you promise?” Because I was so done. I’m like, “Look, I’ve already given you guys a shot. I’ve given you more than one shot to make good on all these promises that, I don’t know Culture, I don’t know who gave me,” but really the enemy gives you to just pull away from the Lord. There’s a lot of empty promises there.

And so, I believed those and I had tried them over and over and they were not fulfilling and they weren’t true. So I just thought, “You might as well be a no nobody to me because I know that I’ve made Jesus a nobody in my life and it hasn’t gotten me where I thought it would.” So I left, I walked out, and this is where my dad enters into the story.

Eric Sammons:

Just real quick, were you in contact with your dad regularly before this, while you were in this dark time? Were you still in communication with him?

Leah Darrow:

That’s a really important question actually for parents. So, my parents did not cut off communication with me, even though I was living far from the church and the faith and everything else good and holy. I had jettisoned everything, but they did not jettison me, so they stuck it out. They called me when I was living with my boyfriend every day, my mom did, and my dad would hop on the phone once in a while and my dad’s not much like a chit-chat talker, but he would always get on there and say something and then give the phone to mom, so we could talk about the weather, and we literally talked about the weather because there was hardly anything else we could bring up without it paining my mom or feeling like I was being accused by me, rightly so looking back on it, but they did everything in their power to love me where I was.

They did not love my lifestyle, they did not love my sins, but they loved me, and they called me and they kept in touch with me and they invited me to all the holidays and I didn’t go, but they called and invited me. And so, that was key to this next part of my story because if they had not kept up that relationship, I would not have. I was selfish, my friends, and usually when you’re in deep sin, you’re very selfish.

And it’s not that you want to be, it’s just this distortion of what evil and sin does to you. It makes you turn so inward that you’re only focused in on your own pain or your own issues or yourself or maybe your own pride or whatever it might be, but you’re so inwardly focused that you don’t really know how to have healthy relationships with other people. And so, it is more on the responsibility and the part of other people if they really are wanting to invest in you to keep it up while you are off range. And so my parents did that, my mom and dad, they kept up that relationship and it made all the difference.

Eric Sammons:

So, you knew at this time when you’re modeling and at the high point, which is actually your low point, you knew your parents didn’t support your lifestyle, I assume, and you knew that. They didn’t have to say it every time in other words, you knew it.

Leah Darrow:

They knew it. They definitely said it in the beginning. They were very clear about, “We do not agree with this, and it’s not just we, it’s God the Father, Leah. This is not at all what Christ is calling you to or how he calls any person to live their life and you know that, right?” And I said, “Yes, I do. I’m still doing it.”

Eric Sammons:

So when they called you, it wasn’t a matter of them telling you, “Oh, you’re doing things wrong.” It’s more just a matter of, “Hey, how’s it going? We’re still in your life.”

Leah Darrow:

Yeah, it was very simple. It was very painful for my parents to call me, and they knew I was in pain. They knew that I hated my life. They knew that I probably hated myself and they knew what the common denominator was in all of that, which was me, it’s me. What do you do as a parent? What do you do? And, they probably had their hands up constantly. It’s like Peter to Jesus and John six, where else are we going to go? What are we going to do?

Eric Sammons:

I have some out of the house unfortunately, they’re still practicing Catholics, but I just can imagine you just as a parent… And, this is something I always try to stress to people is, as a parent, you can do everything right the best I should say, every parent’s flawed, but you can do the best that you can do, and still that doesn’t guarantee that your kid’s going to turn out and be this faithful Catholic all their life and not make stupid mistakes because of free will. And it sounds like your parents, I’m sure they had their flaws, but at the same time, they made that effort. They did their best to raise you, and yet, at least at the beginning of your adulthood, it didn’t work out for them very well because it didn’t work out for you very well. So, now let’s take it to the point that you’re at this… You say you want to be a nobody now, and so what happens then?

Leah Darrow:

So, I walked out of that photo shoot and just walked all the way home. I was crying like crazy. I was just crying when you don’t care who sees you cry, that type of crying. I just was I was boohooing, wailing, crying, screaming at times, crying down the streets of New York, like crazy eye makeup from the photo shoot all coming down my cheeks, screaming, crying, I looked like a crazy New Yorker or a normal one, it all depends on your definition of a New Yorker, but that’s what was going on. It was not fun, friends. This was not like, “Oh, isn’t this a terrible day?” It was, “Oh my gosh, everything is turned upside down. What just happened to me in that photo shoot? I’m pretty sure that happened. I don’t think I just made any of that up. I just walked out. Wait, should I have walked out? Did I just ruin my career? I think I just ruined my career. I walked out of everything. What am I going to do? I don’t have a job. I have bills. How am I going to pay them?”

All these things are going on, and all I knew to do throughout everything was just this message, it just says, “Call home,” and I did, and my dad answered. All I could say, all I could get out is I said, “Dad, if you don’t come and get me, I’m going to lose my soul,” and that’s all I could literally say, and there’s a very long pause, and when my dad finally spoke, he just said, “Okay, baby. I’m coming to get you,” and he drove 2,000 miles to come pick me up.

Eric Sammons:

Wow, I’m sure for your dad that was incredibly difficult, but at the same time, it’s an answer to their prayers I’m sure too, and nobody wants to hear their kid in a terrible place, nobody does, no parent does. But yet at the same time, they knew you were in terrible place, but you didn’t seem to know it. And so, the fact that you acknowledged it, and he probably thought that was the first sign. So wait a minute, so you were in New York, I assume. Where were they? How far was-

Leah Darrow:

Missouri.

Eric Sammons:

Missouri, okay. It’s 2,000 miles in California. Wow, so he just got in the car or did he fly or what?

Leah Darrow:

Oh no, he went straight to his room according to my mother, this is how the story, my mom says that he grabbed a duffle bag from underneath the bed and he just began stuffing socks and underwear inside the bag and my mom’s on the other side of the bed yelling at him saying, “Patrick, pack pants, you need pants.”

Eric Sammons:

He just grabbed whatever clothes.

Leah Darrow:

It’s just the barest stuff that needs to keep clean, everything else is going to work out, socks and underwear. And so, he literally packed his bag then and there. He left then and there, he did not wait, and they rearranged everything while he was on the road. He was calling into work and my mom was handling the other five kids at home and all of their activities and things they had to do. So, my mom is doing all the work at home so that my dad can go. My dad gets in the car and he drives. He just drives straight to New York and he does not stop and he just stops for gas and bathroom breaks. He does not do anything else, and he goes straight to my door. And before I knew it, my dad was knocking on my door.

Eric Sammons:

Wow, when you said that to him, did you expect him to show up?

Leah Darrow:

Yeah, I think actually I did. I was scared to make the call, but I think because I made the call and because of something deep within me that I couldn’t deny of how much he loves me, I think I did expect him. I was scared, I was very, very scared because even if he came and got me, what was it going to be like? Was he going to be mad and resentful? Was it going to be, I told you so’s. I was very nervous about that. No one’s ever asked me that question in all these years, but I do think I did expect him, I guess, deep down to do something, to help me.

Eric Sammons:

Because as a father for my daughters and my son of course, but my daughters, it’s always I want them to know deep down that, “If you’re ever in trouble, I’m there.” But, you can only say that so much, you really have to do it, and you really have to prove it by your actions. And, I think them calling you of course all the time, keeping that contact, probably put in your subconscious, “They have not abandoned me, even if I abandoned myself, they haven’t abandoned me.” So, he gets there and then what does he do? Does he just say, let’s get in the car, let’s go home?

Leah Darrow:

I wish, I wanted him to say that. That’s exactly what… I was like, “Let’s just forget everything happened. Forget the scary phone call I made to you, and what I said, and the words I’m going to lose my soul. It was pretty dramatic. Let’s forget it and let’s just go home.” I would’ve loved to do that because that’s what resistance does, and resistance, even if you power through the first initial phases of, it’ll still come back as, “It’s not a big deal. Let’s just not worry about it anymore. Let’s just ignore it.” But what happened was this, so my dad knocks on the door of my apartment, I come to the door to get it, and he is just standing there with one foot in front of the other and he’s got both hands completely out.

His knees are bent, and he lunges at me as I’m opening the door and he’s like, “I am so happy to see you,” and he’s smiling and happy. And I was like, “Ugh, gross.” That is the worst. Don’t lie to me and you shouldn’t be happy to see me. I was angry and I’m like, “You’re lying. You’re not happy to see me. I am the worst daughter you have. I’m the worst kid you have out of this six and we all know it. We know it, we know what I’ve done. It’s out there public. You can’t get away from it. And it’s not just the TV show, it’s just everything and everything I did had to be on a stage doing it wrong.” And so, I almost was angry. Why? You’re lying to me.

But, he looked at me and he was so sincere and he’s like, “No, I’m so happy to see you.” And, then he kept talking and was like, “Oh, I’ve never been to New York before. So before we leave, let’s go to Central Park.” And, I saw this place called Gray’s Papaya. We should get a hot dog there and some papaya smoothie,” and now I’m confused. I was angry, now I’m utterly confused because I’m only at the point of spiritual despair and this guy wants to get a hot dog and go to the park. So I’m just wondering, “Dad, what is going on? What are you doing?” And because I was so confused, I was like, “I don’t even care. You want to go to the park? Let’s go to the park.” So, he’s still in my doorframe. He’s never entered into my apartment, so I’m grabbing my keys.

I’m like, “Let’s go. Let’s just leave, let’s just go,” and he won’t leave the doorframe. He’s not budging on purpose, and I remember him looking at me, “I know you’re hungry. Dad’s always hungry, so let’s just go. What are you doing, Dad?” And he’s like, “Yeah, we will go,” and then he holds up this big finger to me and he goes, “Yes, but first we go to confession.”

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Leah Darrow:

Before I could even say no, he saw the deer in headlights look. I was like, “What?” That was the last thing I ever thought he would ever say to me. I thought for sure he would say all these other things, anything else, but it was never a thought, an idea in my mind that he would ever present to me this whatsoever.

And, I didn’t know how to respond to him. I know what I wanted to say, which was like, “Heck no. No, that ship has sailed. I’ve burned the boats. I’m stuck on this island away from the church. This is just where I’m at. This is where I’m at.” But, he wouldn’t let me talk. He saw the look on my face and before I could utter a word he just said, “Leah, you called and you said you needed to come home and I’m here to take you home, and Jesus is home. Now if you want to go anywhere else, you can call Southwest Airlines.” So, I don’t know, Eric, I think I was just exhausted and tired. I think I also deeply trusted my dad. I deeply trust my dad, and I know that what my dad does is always for my good. It’s always been that way. Dad’s always been like that. He’s not perfect. Oh gosh, Patrick Darrow is not, but everything he does, he’s doing the best he can for our good, and I just gave up. I said, “Okay, I’ll try it.” What else am I going to do?

Eric Sammons:

My goodness, so you went to confession then just right there, you just found a church and-

Leah Darrow:

Yes, it was right then and there. There was no other option. In fact, my dad told me… Excuse me, my mom told me later and my dad confirmed it, but my mom told me later that the way the story actually went is that… Oh my gosh, wait, now I remember it. My dad told me this on the way home and they told me later because there were so many things going on in my mind at that point, but my dad told me on the way home, he says, “When I left home, your mom came up to the car and before I left and she said, ‘Patrick, you go and you get our daughter and you bring her home, but only if she chooses to go to Christ first.'”

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Leah Darrow:

“Because if she doesn’t, you give her a kiss for me. You tell her how much we love her.” And she said, “You promise me that you’ll come home alone.”

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Leah Darrow:

And, well my dad told me that story on the way home. I think it hit me then of how much they loved me that they were willing to leave me until I recognized my mess and I recognized the only one who could put me back together, which is Christ. So, we went right then and there, we found a church.

Eric Sammons:

The advantage of living in New York City.

Leah Darrow:

I know, and it was crazy. We actually ended up going to Brooklyn and driving around together until we drove by this one, and I love how God orchestrates these things because we literally are just driving around. I’m just driving around basically waiting for salvation to come. I am so deep in sin, it’s not even funny. I’m just waiting. What church do I go to? I don’t know. What do I do?

But, we ended up stopping at this one church, and of course I have no idea why. Both of us, my dad and I didn’t have any plans at any church. We never called, we had not called ahead or anything like that. But I was like, “Let me just stop here and see what’s going on inside this church.” And, it was St. Rose of Lima in Brooklyn, New York. I’ll never forget it, and I walk into this church. I had no idea who St. Rose was or anything and like that, but I walk into her church and it was all just pitch black, and I was so happy because I was like, “Oh my gosh, no one is here and I can just do a little walk around and then go back and tell dad like, ‘Dad, I tried, but there’s nobody there so maybe we will just postpone until we get home.'”

That was my plan going in of like, “Okay, I recognize that this is what I need to do. I see that now, but I don’t want to do it now. I want to do it later.” We always postpone our best self for later, we always do this. I see this in personal development and coaching all the time. I’ll be better with my routine later, I’ll be better with my mindset later, and with our spirituality. I’ll be holier later. I’ll give God all of my sins later. I’ll forgive later. I’ll receive mercy later. Later might not always come, but I was rolling the dice. I was going to go forward later. So I see that no one’s in there, I’m really excited. I’m like, “Well, I have to at least do one lap around the church just to make good on the fact that my dad came out here.”

And so because of the guilt of that, I was like, “I’ll just walk around,” and as I walk around the church to see if anybody’s there, I walked around and it was just all dark and I was just looking around the church. I hadn’t really been in a church in almost a decade, not really. Maybe once in a while for somebody’s wedding or something, but I wasn’t staying in there. I definitely wasn’t there for any purpose that the church was there for. I remember just staring at everything, staring like, “Oh look, there’s a little red candle. Oh look…” Just thinking, “Oh, not much has changed,” like it would change in 10 years, but anyway, so as I get to the back of the church, this little door is open. I’m sure we all know what that little door is, that this little room’s open, this little door is open, it’s just cracked open, and then I don’t stop by the door, I don’t go into the door, but as I walk by, I hear a man’s voice say, “Are you there?”

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Leah Darrow:

And I remember thinking, “What the heck? Is this happening?” And I thought, “Somebody needs to call an exorcist because there’s something in that room that’s not right.” And I was like, “Are you there?” I’m thinking, “Are you there?” And, I still to this day have not fully unpacked that whole moment to be honest with you, but I just thought, “Are you there?” And, I just didn’t know what to do, so it scared me, but I looked up and I realize it’s the confessional and there’s a priest in there. And so, I was so frustrated. I was like, “Why are you here? Why aren’t you on lunch break? Don’t you have other things to do?” It’s just some random day in the week. It’s not the typical Saturday at four o’clock, which is a whole other issue. Wow, thank you so much for that 30 minutes of mercy you’re giving to the lady. Wow, that’s just really big on you. Can you do your job, son? Do your job. Anyway, sorry. Frustration-

Eric Sammons:

You do wonder how many people we miss like you though, if you only have that half hour on Saturday, there’s people like you out there. You do wonder how many are missed because of that.

Leah Darrow:

You can wonder a lot because there’s a lot, or how about the line of people that are there on time and get there on time, but still don’t get their experience of the sacrament because the priest to run off to say the mass? And, there’s so many things and the worst is the priest being like, “You know what, I’m just going to absolve all of you in one group absolution here really, really quickly.” And I’m like, “Wow.” There’s a few other ways to go about this maybe. Anyways besides the issue, but still a side note that might want to be talked about later. So I go in there, it’s a confessional. We all know what happened and I went in and I gave Christ everything. I decided to be fully Leah, and so what that means is that in my life, for better or for worse, and when I was leading a life of sin, this was definitely for worse, but I go all in.

I do it 100%, as best as I can, and so I decided, do it right. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Don’t do this by halves. Don’t do it 90%, that’s ridiculous. I’m not going to live my life like that. I’m going to live at 100%. And so I did, I went in and I gave everything, every disgusting, dirty little secret that I hid from everybody, the ones that I’ll never mention from a stage, I’ve mentioned a few from stage because it gives people an idea kind of, whatever, how crappy of a person I was, sometimes still am, but no, it was bad. And, I gave God everything and he gave me mercy and peace and I walked out and Dad just said, “Are you ready to go home?” I said, “Yes I am.” He goes, “Okay.”

Eric Sammons:

Wow.

Leah Darrow:

That was it.

Eric Sammons:

I know one of the things that helped lead to that moment was the fact that your parents stayed in contact with you even though you were doing things they didn’t approve of. What are some other things your dad particularly did growing up that built that relationship that you’d say, Dad did a good job with this stuff in raising me, even though I fell away for a while, it still laid a foundation that I could later come back to? What were some things that your dad did that you really look back on and say that was great?

Leah Darrow:

My dad was really big on always sticking up for your family. This is probably not the answer you’re looking for, but this is what I thought of.

Eric Sammons:

Anything that affected you is all that matters.

Leah Darrow:

My dad is a fighter and so he fights for his family and he fights for the whole of the family, the unity of the family is really big to him. His parents divorced later in their marriage and it was very, as all of them are typically, it was very hurtful to him and his brothers and sisters and he made a pact to himself that he would never do that. He would never put his family, put children through such a thing, which meant for him, as he tells the story, he was just so incredibly careful obviously of who he chose to marry and same values going into it. It doesn’t just like, “I’m going to get married to anybody and then I’m going to slap down these values.” It was something beforehand that was a part of every decision that he made.

And so, my dad has always been a fighter for the unity of the family and the family unit. And so, he was always really big with us kids to defend one another and to be there for one another. It’s like, “No, you don’t leave your family. You stand up for your family, you fight for your family.” And for better or for worse, one of the examples I have that I think of right now when I think about this and my dad is that when I was in grade school, somebody was… I’m the oldest of six kids in my family, so five younger brothers and sisters, three brothers, two sisters, and somebody around my age in my grade was making fun of one of my younger brothers. My younger brothers are like five, six years younger than me, and I was in grade school and this happened and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

And so, I went up to this guy that was making fun of my brother and I just beat the crap out of him. This is not okay. I’m not saying this is okay, but I’m just telling you what happened, and I was in a Catholic grade school and these nuns are literally pulling me off of this guy. I’m on the playground, I’ve got him pinned and I am not doing things I should do, I’m beating him up, but he just kept for weeks and weeks just saying all these horrible things about my brother and I do it, and anyway, these nuns are pulling me off of him and I get in trouble obviously, I go to the principal’s office and they’re dealing with me and they’re calling my parents and my dad comes to get me and I could not believe my dad was coming because he left work.

Dad left work? Mom always took us and picked us up from school, but Dad is there and we’re in the car and he’s got all of us kids at this point because he just picked us all up at that time and we’re in the car and it’s silent and I’m like, “Oh man, I am going to get it. I’m going to get it bad.” The anxiety just was welling up within me like, “What is my father going to be saying to me?”

All the other kids are behind me. All my brothers and sisters know what happened. They know that Leah got in a fight and she beat up this kid named Matt and it was just bad. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.” I was like, “Okay, you’re just going to have to take it, whatever it is.” And my dad, I’ll never forget it, we’re in the car, in the station wagon, and he’s in the driver’s seat and he turns around and puts his arm back and he looked at me and he puts his finger right in my face and he goes, “It is always okay to stand up for your family.”

Eric Sammons:

Wow, that’s awesome. I love that story.

Leah Darrow:

And I was just like… And that was it, and then he turned around, put the car in drive, and we left school. And I was like… And, it was the most silent us kids had ever been in the car probably for the rest of our existence there, but that message to me was something to where it wasn’t just me defending the family. My dad showed that in his actions for us as well. And so when I was at my worst and my lowest, that I’ve already talked about, there wasn’t an absolute certainty that I was like, “Dad’s not going to leave his family, he’s not going to leave me. He’s going to come fight for me even if it means making me do some more work. You need to still work on yourself here, we’re not done with this. You still need to work on yourself, you need to go to Christ, and then after that you’re going to have to come home and you’re going to deal with some of these things that are still messed up in your head, honestly, with your thinking and your relationship with your family and with God.”

But, my dad defended me and he was there for me and he’s always really big about that, and I know that just growing up, that was definitely one thing that for me in our personal little family that was so clear, that you were there and you don’t give up. You might not want to resort to physical violence, but at the same time the lesson is you always stand up for your family. You’re always there.

Eric Sammons:

And, that is a great foundation because obviously grace builds on nature and so the natural family is a domestic church and it really is important that you realize you don’t leave it. Likewise, you don’t leave the church, but you also don’t leave your family. Everybody can be screwed up, just like in the church, everybody can be screwed up. You’re screwed up too, I’m screwed up, everybody’s screwed up, but the idea is you stick with it. You stick with it even when things are bad, you defend your siblings, and I think maybe that was some of the foundation of the fact that you said you did expect your dad to show up because of the fact that he had established, “I’m putting my family above… I don’t care what my job is. If I lose my job because I have to drive 2,000 miles across the country, well I’ll get another job or something like that because family comes first.”

And, I think that is vital. I know in our own family that we try to do that as well. And that’s the thing, in my family we make fun of each other all the time, and it’s funny when people come and visit us, they don’t realize that we’re like… If you make a mistake at a family gathering, oh man, everybody’s just going to get on you, every single one. You can’t not do it, but the second somebody from outside the family says something against somebody in the family, “Oh no, you can’t do that. You just can’t do that. That’s not acceptable.” And, I think that’s a good natural thing that you’re basically saying family comes before anything… Faith obviously comes first, but in a faithful family, family comes first and you defend it.

So, I want to move on to something else. I’ll say this from experience, but also just talking to a lot of other dads, it’s hard to be a dad today, especially to women, to girls because our society has a very clear idea of toxic masculinity. You want a bunch of effeminate men is what they seem to want, and yet in my experience, that’s not the way to be a good father. And so, how can we escape from that, the culture that says masculinity is bad and men should be effeminate, and feminism which says women should be like men? It’s all messed up, so solve it all for us here.

Leah Darrow:

Solve it for you. Well, I think just the idea that if you look at this, it’s obviously so incredibly disordered and I know probably everybody here listening is on the same page, more than likely you’re there, but you’ve got this message from culture or inspired by probably hell itself, that says that men should be more like women, men should be more a effeminate, women should be more masculine. So, they’re wanting both a masculine role and a feminine role, that’s not being done away with. It’s just who gets to be that. And so to me, I always found that very interesting and I’m like, “You don’t want the man to be the man and you don’t want the woman to be the woman. Why?” Because that’s exactly what evil does, it just flips everything upside down and then calls it the same.

And you’re like, “What?” It’s spiritual gaslighting at its finest. No, no, no, this is it. This is the man. See, this is the man. You’re like, “This is not it.” So, how do you get away from that? One, you have to be very careful about the messages that you allow into your home and into your head, into everything else, the things that you read, and you have to also not just block out the things that are telling you lies, but start consuming things that are absolute truth. Consume truth. Do you consume enough truth in your life about who you are, who you’re called to be? There’s one book I know of, the Bible, that might be very helpful in this area, but too often we want to look for philosophers who will talk about it. And honestly, even sometimes it’s over spirituation of these saints that talk about it. Start going back to the source of truth of who we are in scripture.

I find this to be very much needed and maybe more needed, so that we don’t create this superstitious and cult-like experience within our faith. In terms of masculinity and femininity, we need to read the room and stay in our lane frankly. That’s where we shine, and there’s a lot of power in those roles when we are in where we’re supposed to be. The power of femininity is beautiful and amazing. The power of masculinity, that’s beautiful and amazing, and it does well when we actually dive deeper into those versus trying to create a chasm between them, but there’s this bridge that is constantly there that you have to be able to appreciate it.

I think it’s Jordan Peterson who was talking a lot about toxic masculinity and how toxic the idea of toxic masculinity really is. And he was just saying, “Look around, go around your house. The light switches and the roads and the plumbing, who puts these things together? It’s men. It’s usually men.” And you’re like, “You’re saying, oh this is toxic, it’s toxic to have these things in our life?” I think about that all the time. And it’s not just masculinity in certain terms of doing something, but in terms of our roles and our contribution into the world, it’s solved within yourself.

And, that’s how problems are typically solved. You solve one thing yourself for yourself, you share that with the person that’s closest to you, your family. You share them that experience of what’s going on. They see the truth, they see this experience, they have something else in them that needs to be solved or healed or whatever, it is worked on, and then that change starts to repeat itself. So, in terms of being able to look at femininity and masculinity and the toxic forms of it right now in culture, the most toxic things are saying that what is the most masculine is not, and then vice versa with femininity too.

Eric Sammons:

And, one thing that gets to Catholicism is there’s, of course, always the traditional roles for the husband and wife, for the father and mother, that traditionally you consider the dad is the head of the house. In a lot of ways, the mom is the heart of the house, and the dad fulfilling his role as the head of the house, so he’s the protector, he’s the priest, he’s the provider, how does a dad fulfilling those roles impact his daughters growing up? How does that make them see the world and see masculinity, femininity, and all of those things? Because a lot of people would say that’s actually what harms, that’s somehow harmful for young women to see.

Leah Darrow:

Well, it’s harmful if it’s done improperly and it’s harmful if it’s absent and it’s not harmful when you have… You think about that as a girl, as a young woman. You have somebody in your life, you have a man in your life who’s going to protect you and defend you no matter what. You have a man in your life who’s going to tell you that you’re valuable and you’re worthy. You have a man who’s going to push you to be a little bit better, who’s going to call you out saying, “Hey, hold on a second. That’s not going to fly.” Hold you accountable.

And if a man does that with complete and ultimate love, without any type of self regard for himself, so sacrificial and you see that sacrificial love every day and you see how that man doesn’t just love you that way, but loves your brothers and sisters, loves your mother that way, how does that not affect you positively? And, I think that’s the call on men, that’s the call upon fathers. That’s the heavy burden upon fathers that you have, and the impact is that you raise children, and in particular, I can just speak to the fact that you raise daughters who know their value and their worth, who even if they go off range, even if they make their own mistakes, even all the things that you’ve given them, more than likely we come back and we come back to a loving father, we come back to a loving home, and we are able to start over again because we know that there’s hope.

We know that we’re not forgotten. We always love in these conversations, it seems like people love to bring out all of the outliers, all of the problems, but the problems with a father not taking up that role and burden as well at the same time, but not taking up that role just proves the point how important it is. Yes, you’re right. When you have dads who aren’t loving, who are harsh all the time or they’re absent, does it affect you negatively? Yes, it does.

So, then the opposite would be the same. If you have a father who is fully present, who is doing his best, he makes his mistakes, but he’s loving, he’s forgiving, he’s showing you what mercy is, he’s showing you to try again, he’s holding you accountable, he’s holding the bar higher for yourself just because you can’t reach it yet, but he needs to because you’ve got to be able to get there. When you have a dad like that, you become a better human for the world. And so, just because some dads don’t do it, just because some men fail does not mean that the role of father has failed. It’s us trying to achieve that as best as we can

Eric Sammons:

Now, I want to wrap it up here with… I just want to address the idea that there are women out there who did not have good dads, their dads did not do the job that they’re given to do. And so, they might even be in a situation now where they’re adults and maybe even a situation where they feel like their husband’s not really doing that and they want him to, but they don’t want to nag him, they don’t want to tell him. So, what do we do in these situations in which women can find themselves? Because let’s be honest, a lot of times the women are doing a better job of living the faith than the men are, you see this in a lot parishes where the women are very involved and the dad’s absent or he’s kind of checked out. What should women do in those situations in which the dad isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing?

Leah Darrow:

From the perspective of the wife or the daughter?

Eric Sammons:

Let’s go with both. You can start with whichever one you want to because I think they’re unique situations.

Leah Darrow:

Marriages are so intricate and so intimate. And so, one thing I’ve learned about marriage, I’ve only been married 10 years, so I barely know what I’m doing. I barely know what I’m doing-

Eric Sammons:

Just so you know, I’ve been married 27, I barely know either, so it doesn’t change.

Leah Darrow:

Great, it’s a bright future ahead of me of not knowing what I’m doing.

Eric Sammons:

Right.

Leah Darrow:

So, one thing I’ll tell you is that I’ve come up with this little saying about how marriage is… I do a lot of coaching now in the work that I do, and so when I talk about marriage in my coaching, I talk about how marriage is coaching your spouse how to coach you because we all need a little bit of help. We all need, “Hey, sometimes when you say it like this, maybe could you try it with this phrase?” Whatever it is, but we’re trying to both understand each other. And so, when you’re in a situation where your husband is not leading in the way that you know he’s called and how God’s calling him, and you probably know why he’s not, you probably know the struggles he has, I have found it just to be the most effective is at the right time and place, which only you and the Holy Spirit will know is to bring it up forthrightly with what you’re noticing, how you’re feeling about that, and your hopes for the future, and deep encouragement of the hope that you see in your spouse in that role.

Sometimes people just can’t see themselves in a place where you see them. It’s hard to see. If somebody would’ve said to me literally in the middle of that apartment before I made that phone call to my dad when I was contemplating suicide, “Leah, you have no idea. You’re going to do things and you’re going to inspire thousands of people and you’re going to share this story and it’s going to bring people back to the church,” I’d be like, “I don’t even care. I don’t care. I’m in so much pain right now. One, I think you’re crazy. That would never happen, and nobody would ever listen to me. And two, I don’t care.” So, sometimes it’s really hard to sometimes see what other people might see, to see the hope.

But, that doesn’t mean that you don’t help and it doesn’t mean you don’t bring it up. And so I would say one, speak forthrightly and pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the moment to nudge you internally to know the moment to bring that up in the most encouraging atmosphere and environment that you can to bring up that hard conversation because it is something that needs to be talked about and needs to be out loud. And remember, one of the tactics of the enemy is isolation, silence, and shame. So, he wants to isolate us, he wants to keep it quiet, he wants it to not be brought out, and he wants us to be ashamed of whatever’s going on. And when you bring to light situations, issues, concerns, you literally bring a light into the darkness. You are bringing the light of Christ and you’re bringing truth and love, deep love, and concern into a pain, into a wound.

And, that is so needed. And the first time you bring that light to that wound, to that hurt, it’s going to look ugly, and the conversation might not be awesome, but you had it, you had it, you said it, and then the next time you bring it up and the next time something comes up or the Holy Spirit inspires something to happen, to motivate the next moment, it’s not going to look as ugly as it did before, it’s going to look a little bit better, but you have to be able to bring light into that conversation that’s dark right now. So, being forthright and bringing something up is definitely the thing I would encourage wives to do with husbands who aren’t yet embracing that role yet that they need to and that is their birthright as a husband.

Eric Sammons:

I also like the point you made about the wife sees more in the husband than perhaps he sees in himself because then it’s not this idea of nagging the husband, “You need to be better.” It’s more like, “No, I know how great you are. I know you can do this. That’s why I’m bringing it up because it’s not just a matter of I want you to be better.” No, it’s like, “I know you are.” I like that because I think that allows the man to see… Because every husband wants his wife to think he’s the best guy in the world. And so, if you say things in a way that makes it sound like, “No, you’re big bozo, you’re doing things wrong,” that doesn’t really work out. But if you say, “You are the best guy in the world, so I know you can do all this stuff.”

Leah Darrow:

I think you made a good point too, Eric, is also, what I’m hearing what you’re saying too is also not comparing. Listen, Joe who sits in the pew across from us, he’s so great.

Eric Sammons:

Do not do that.

Leah Darrow:

Or just anything else, but it’s the encouragement of that better version of himself, the 2.0 version, the higher self, whatever you want to call it, but we have a better version of ourself that we are trying to attain to. These are more common words today in personal development, but Paul talks about the old man and the new man. It’s a better version, his higher self, whatever you want to call it, Paul 2.0, but that is what he is talking about. So, this idea of really ending on that very encouraging note of I see all the good in you, I see every bit of potential in you. I know it might be hard to see it because of what’s going on right now, what you’re dealing with, but I see this amazing man that I know you actually want to be. I know you want to be free in this space and I just want you to know that. I don’t see you and I don’t see all your issues and problems because we all have them.

In a marriage, everything is magnified, but I see you and I see amazing potential still to be had, and I just have always found that to be so useful to me when I talk to Ricky and our very real issues and problems that we currently have still to this day. Obviously ending on that space, ending on that note, it can do nothing but good. It might sting sometimes even for Ricky to hear it because he’s like, “Ugh,” you’re being challenged a bit, but you want to end on a very loving, encouraging note. So, I think that would be great.

Eric Sammons:

Now, how about then daughters who their dads just weren’t there, they didn’t fulfill their responsibilities, and now they have to live with it. They’re adults and they have to live with it, what do you say to them?

Leah Darrow:

So, you’ve already been through the experience, you didn’t have a dad and you didn’t have the dad you deserved. And one, it’s important to acknowledge that. It’s not like, “Oh, it’s okay, it’s fine.” No, it’s not, and there’s probably a lot of different reasons for everybody’s situation, but just to acknowledge it should not have been that way because we don’t want to create a standard for absent behavior or poor behavior just because it was what we experienced. And, a lot of times when we go through something and there’s a wound and a suffering and a hurt, instead of dealing with the hurt and healing and then also looking at what should have been, we create a standard based on our wound.

And so, we want to make sure that we’re not doing that. So, I would say the first one, acknowledge it and then make sure that we’re aware of what should the standard be like. What would be something realistic to expect in this situation? And then another layer, it doesn’t have to be steps, but another thing to consider too, if you’re in this situation and you didn’t have the dad and you didn’t have somebody there who was guiding you, helping you, picking you up, that you could call, somebody who came and got you and things were really bad, two parts to this, but one, I just want to tell you I’m sorry.

Because you might not have your dad, maybe he’s not around anymore or maybe he’s absent or is not acknowledging of the issue, but maybe you don’t have anybody actually saying I’m sorry, I am sorry. And so I just want you to know, just as me, as your sister, I am sincerely sorry. It shouldn’t have been that way, and you’re right to hurt. You have every right for that to hurt. The second one is just to realize the reality that you may or may not have fully delved into because of the hurt, and that is you do have a father and he does love you and he’s been there for you every step of the way. You may or may not have called out to him and that’s okay, but he’s still there and that we do have God the Father, and just to also recognize the relationship we have with our earthly fathers has a direct influence on how we see that relationship with God the Father.

God the Father is not the one that hurt you, he’s not the one. He did not abandon you and he will not and will not forsake you. And so, I find it to be very helpful in our relationships with our parents to take time to see how we might be projecting that onto God the Father or the Holy Mother, whatever that might be because it’s human, it would make sense. They have the same name, father. So, if we have a very harsh dad, if we have a dad who was always yelling, screaming, maybe hitting, did not forgive, that would absolutely make sense that you might have a harder understanding of the mercy and the deep love, the very tender love of God the Father, that it’s not just I love you, but it’s I am so in love with you. I love you so tenderly, so beautifully, so perfectly, and if that kind of grates on your skin hearing that, it might just be because of some type of relationship with your own dad that you might need to do some healing with.

Eric Sammons:

It’s the thing that keeps me up at night is the idea that my kids’ conception of God the Father is shaped by me, and I don’t know any dad who that should not put the fear of God in you. I know I’m not going to be perfect, I know I’m going to have all these flaws, but boy, just knowing that’s how my kids are going to look at God the Father is how is based upon how I treated them, and boy, if that’s not the greatest responsibility… It feels like a burden, but God obviously gives us the grace, but that’s a good… So any dad’s out there listening, don’t forget that your kids’ conception of God to Father will be shaped by you. So, let’s do our best and we need God’s help to do our best, obviously.

Leah Darrow:

That’s a holy burden for sure, but I think lastly, just to every girl or woman out there who didn’t have a dad, the last thing I would tell you is one, you need to forgive yourself. I’ve spoken with thousands of women at this point who are in this position of not having the dad that I had, or just a dad that was present in there and loved them, and I noticed a couple years into this work years and years ago, that all of them had something where they were holding onto some…

They felt like there was some element of their responsibility to this wound and hurt that they had, and it was a need really to forgive themselves. You’ve done nothing. More than likely in these situations, you’ve done nothing to have the absent father. It wasn’t your fault that your dad didn’t express his love to you, and the need to forgive themselves was so needed in that healing process that I have noticed it time and time again when I talk to somebody in person or over a message on social media or something where it’s just this need of forgiving themselves. They’ve held onto the hurt and the wound as if they were the one causing that pain. And so, it’s just something to think about.

Eric Sammons:

Absolutely, I think we’ll end it there, but what I want you to do is tell us what you’re working on now and how people can find the great stuff you’re doing, frankly.

Leah Darrow:

Thank you so much. So my new fun, amazing project that I’m putting together is… Oh my gosh, last year I started working on creating a personal development program. I love personal development. I just think it’s great in so in different ways. I’ve been in it for over a decade, but nothing was Christian. I have to filter a lot of the terms and words and move things around, a lot of people talking to the universe about stuff.

And I’m like, “Well, we could just talk to the creator of the universe. I don’t know, I want to cut out the middle man of the universe and just talk to God.” So, I created a Christian personal development program. So, it is a scripture-based personal development program. Everything is based on scripture and is anchored to everything that Christ says. And so, I’ve been working on that, it’s called Power Made Perfect, and I get to coach virtually, group coaching online. I have this program that I’ve been running and I’m going to just start up a new round of it this upcoming year in 2023. So, if you’re interested in anything like that, if personal development is your jam, I’m your girl. I’ll be your friend to the end and you can find out more at my website, leahdarrow.com, and that’s just the stuff that I’ve been really loving and God has been putting on my heart to do, and it’s been great.

Eric Sammons:

That’s great, that sounds awesome and I’ll make sure I put a link in the show notes to your website, so people can easily find it and just find all the stuff you’ve been doing and it’s very encouraging and I’m glad there’s people like you out there because I would be the world’s worst personal development coach. So, I’m glad that people like you exist.

Leah Darrow:

Just tell people to get it together.

Eric Sammons:

Exactly.

Leah Darrow:

Keep your house in order. Hey, that’s an element to mine. It’s just not the whole thing.

Eric Sammons:

There probably needs to be more than that. So anyway, so I encourage people to go to Leah’s website, leahdarrow.com and like I said, I’ll put a link to it. So, thanks so much. I really appreciate it. I think it was an important topic. Obviously, I think it’s an important topic, but I think it’s an important topic in general too. So, I really appreciate you coming on the program.

Leah Darrow:

You bet, I’m happy to be here. Thank you.

Eric Sammons:

Great, Leah. Okay, everybody, until next time, God love you.

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