Dads

DadsRead_Logo_FINALnewA woman told me a story of a dad who made his son run home after football practice because his hustle wasn’t up to dad’s standards. At the time I was busy so I didn’t think a lot about her comment. Later I came to the conclusion that the father probably did that because he loves his boy. Of course there might also be some vicarious living involved.  Dads love sons; that is the way God set up the relationship.  Growing up I never doubted that my father loved me.  Although we were never close, his love was always a given, albeit rarely exhibited.  I do have some vague recollection of him kissing me on the forehead once when I was a small child. But past that I do not remember my father as being a warm and fuzzy man at all (my sister has a different recollection).

A few days before he died, I was alone in the room with dad as he labored to breath tethered to a perpetual oxygen tube. Suddenly, he looked up at me with piercing brown eyes and said, “John, I am proud of you and I love you”.  At the time I was in my mid-twenties. Prior to that day I had never heard those words.  I recall that emotional moment of time as a highpoint in my life.  That day I made up my mind that when I had children I would tell them I loved them every day.  I have a grown son; I am confident that when Michael was growing up that I didn’t entirely live up to my commitment, but I did tell him I loved him a lot.

In twenty-six of ministry I expect that I’ve had dozens of men tell me that their dads never told then that he loved them.  Years ago one of my dear friends came to me one day so depressed that he mentioned taking his own life.The problem was that he felt he was odd man out.  His younger brother had been a standout high school athlete and his older brother had followed in his dad’s footsteps professionally. My friend had done neither.  He felt that as far as his father’s love was concerned that he had fallen through the cracks. As he sat on my couch weeping, he told me of his hurt. When I suggested that his dad surely loved him, his retort was a familiar one – “He’s never told me.”  A few days later the three of us had lunch together; toward the end of our meal the father looked at his son and said “I love you”. It was obviously a special moment. I’ve never forgotten that day and I expect they haven’t either.  Dads your sons know you love them, but knowing isn’t enough. They need to hear you say it.

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