Eric Heck hung out with his father a total of two hours every year.
He would send Heck a card in the mail once in a blue moon.
“There was not a lot of contact,” said Heck, 45. “A lot of resentment. A lot of hatred towards him and not having that man-figure in my life. I did a lot of stupid things … I felt really abandoned. It’s like, ‘Am I not important to you that you don’t do more?’ My mom was working so many hours because she had to support all of us that I was left with my grandmother for a large part. I felt really alone and that’s how it was for me for a large part of my life. I became self-sufficient. I do it myself. I teach myself how to learn something, whatever it is, whether it’s a sport or a skill.”
Heck was self-taught in a lot of things, but how to be a father didn’t come with a playbook when he had his first child 16 years ago.
“That was the first time I understood what God’s love means. It made sense,” added Heck, a Southeast Christian Church member. “I didn’t answer the call right away, but that was a major turning point for me. So, because of not having that experience from a father myself about raising my children—how to love them, support them, help take care of them, everything you can think of being a father—that was hard to overcome.”
Heck and his wife, Heather, have six kids ages 3 to 15.
Heck grew up in Louisville and attended a Catholic grade school, but he either hated God or didn’t believe in Him at all.
His father wound played itself out in anger and pornography.
“Porn started out in my late teens,” Heck said. “I don’t remember how or why or what. It just progressed from there easily because I was living for myself and—for the time—not really thinking about anything else, honestly, because I was a loner. It became an everyday thing for me.”
As a young adult, Heck stayed out of church for many years and only attended again to appease his wife when they were dating.
After they married in March 2005, Heck continued to go through the motions in his faith and in his job at Walmart.
“I was just living life, no plans, no goals, just doing the everyday humdrum,” Heck added. “A Walmart manager and another associate mentioned Southeast and planted that seed.”
The Hecks joined Southeast, and he was baptized in March 2007.
Heck has been involved in College-Age Ministry, Man Challenge and served in the SE!Kids nursery and now works for an IT company.
About a year ago, Heck reached out to Southeast’s Men’s Mentoring program because of personal and family problems.
Men’s Mentoring is a one-on-one discipleship program designed for those experiencing a season of struggle who would like help becoming a spiritual leader. Mentors provide guidance in a variety of areas—from marriage, parenting and career changes to finances, anxiety and addictions—with the ultimate purpose of connecting to Jesus.
Heck was connected with Phil Johnson.
“I still wanted to have someone, kind of like a father role model, because I didn’t have that benefit,” Heck said. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I know where my weaknesses are. I know I had to improve in all those because my marriage wasn’t going well, and I didn’t think as a father I was doing a very good job.”
Heck met with Johnson for an hour or so every week and went to Johnson’s men’s group that was studying “Being God’s Man,” a video series by Kenny Luck.
“I don’t think I’d attempt to be a better person or a better father,” Heck added. “I would succumb to ‘OK, mediocre, that’s good enough.’ Mentoring helps me to strive because Phil challenges me to be a better man both with God and my family. I’m at a point where now I know what’s right, but I need someone to hold me accountable.”
Heck decided to lead a Bible study group based on the book, “The Bible from 30,000 Feet” by Skip Heitzig.
“My hope for him was that he would get connected, and he got connected so much that he wanted to lead a Bible study,” Johnson said. “His relationships were expanded and improved with other men, his wife, his family. He’s taken on that responsibility, and he’s not tried to solve all of his problems by himself.”
For info on Men’s Mentoring, call (502) 253-8400 or visit www.southeastchristian.org/connect/care/mentoring.