how to have what all our hurting hearts want most this Father’s Day

I sat with a man once —

who told me about falling in love with a woman who was most alluring not in satin but in sweats,

her hair undone and falling, laughing about something long ago, her head thrown back and her neck arching bare and lovely.

That he couldn’t take his eyes off her when she was like that, vulnerable and unmasked, and maybe that’s what beauty is, the brokenness of bare exposure.

He said that’s all he ever wanted.

He wanted her and he wanted to live unafraid because what does it matter what people think of you when you know that you’re known by God? Let people have their bloated opinions — he’d take God’s bottom-line approval any old day.

Thing was, every time he went to ask for her hand, to commit to a taking and holding gently a life like that, to daily daring to lay down for a life like that, some voice in the back of his rattling mind mocked him for thinking he was a man.

That he wasn’t man enough for a woman like her, that he wasn’t man enough for a brave life where souls lived unashamed and uncovered to each other, that he wasn’t man enough to live unmasked in a world of stiff suits and swaggering loud certainty.

So he’d gone to his dad.

He’d knew where to go — and it was back to his father.

Because a Father is the seed of your beginning, he is the catalyst of your being, the genesis of your becoming.

Because sometimes the only way to silence the voices in the back of your head is to stand face to face with your Father.

Because when we dream of making a life, dream of making a love that will make life, we return to the beginning, and pray for a moment when our Father leans close over our hoping to breathe the warmth of His willing self into us.

That is what makes him your Father: He is your beginning.

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So he went and sat at his Dad’s table.

He looked his Dad in the eye and told him the life he wanted to have and to hold.

Told his Dad that there was something in him that said that there was something in him that wasn’t enough for her, a voice that told him that he wasn’t good for living vulnerable dreams, a voice that told him he was less than —his voice broke — that he was less than others, less than expectations, less than enough.

He’d looked his father in the eye and that was his Esau Moment.

It happens. And you don’t know when it will come, how often it will come:  Every child, every man, every woman, has these Esau Moments when everything in them wants to beg a blessing from their father.

When you want the man that began you to bless you — to say that you are one of his dreams come true, that you are what he hoped for, you are his desires and love incarnated and there is nothing he will leave behind that compares to the masterpiece of you changing the world and everything coming ahead.

Sometimes what you want most is your father to give you the greatest gift anyone can give someone: for him to believe in you.

So that’s what he said — He looked into the face of the man who had given a part of himself to conceive him and he let the Esau words come:

“Dad — I need you to say that I’m enough of a man.”

I need you, Dad —  to say that I am yours and you aren’t ashamed of me.
I need you, Dad — to say that I am loved and nothing I can ever do or fail to ever do will change how you forever love me.
I need you,  Dad —  to say that I am enough of a man.

And his father turned to him and said —-

“I can’t.”

I could hardly breathe.

His father said, “I can’t tell you everything you need me to say —-

because my own father never said it to me.”

And he looked into the eyes of his own seeking father — and that’s what he felt:

For the first time in his life he felt all his wounds bleeding right there on the inner walls of his own father’s heart.

The Esau Moment of begging blessing had become an Epiphany Moment of softening—

His hardened dad was still but a broken boy who himself had never heard I love you.

His stiffened and masked dad was still a kid who himself had never gotten his own blessing.

His distanced dad was but himself a question still reaching across the chasm of generations, desperate to find something under fingers to touch, to believe in —- and pass on.

Nothing wounds like the elusiveness of love.

But it can happen and it can be your tender miracle:

There can be an unspoken bond with the one who has wounded you — because you know you both carry the same wounds.

Hurt people, hurt people. 

You can’t deeply love your parents  — until you grieve the deep wounds of their life.

My own Dad looked different to me when I saw him that spring, when I saw his worn hands slipped into his Levi jeans, the way time silvered at his temples and his eyes tried to say things I knew his words never could.

I felt it like a slow thrum around the tender places —- how there is nothing stopping me from being the voice that reaches across the chasm of generations, from me being the whisper of what he never heard from his own dad —- but he could hear now from his own child.

I could be the one to say the words he’s always longed to hear: 

“I love you. And nothing you’ve ever done or ever failed to do will change how I forever love you.

You’re mine and I’m not ashamed of you but I acclaim you for the battles you fought and won, for every struggle that counts as a win because you stayed in the game, you kept breathing and kept wrestling and kept getting up again.

You’ve never lost if you’ve learned. You’ve never failed if you’ve let your feet find the floor again come morning.

And if I’ve loved redemption and grace and mercy for the likes of me, how can I love anything less for the wounds of yours?

Love is patient and patience is a willingness to suffer — and simply, I choose to always love and suffer with you.”

And maybe there’s a way every kid can someday, maybe, get a little closer to the hope of saying that.

Maybe… maybe there’s a hope that someday, maybe, every one of the wounded can move closer to the healing of that:

Because when you look in the mirror, there it is, in the sheen of the lit reflection, and you recognize it — a glimpse of your own father’s face.

And that face sees their own father’s face who sees their own father’s face— and the reflecting washes over you and on and on until there’s the beginning and there’s a glimpse of the face of God.

And you hear the words your longing is guaranteed to hear, your Esau Moment becoming an Emmanuel Moment, because you, your father, his father —- we all have a Father who is always with us, always blessing us:

You’re the child I imagined and dreamed about and chose before creation, whose name I etched into the palm of my hands with dying affection,

You’re the one who I think about more than there are grains of sands on the seashore, the one I can’t stop singing love for.

You’re the one who gets what you want most, your Father to give you the greatest gift anyone can give someone: I believe in you — because I am in you so you can believe in Me.

You’re the one I made and will remake and will never forsake

You are my child and I am Father and to love is to suffer, and I will suffer for you, and I will suffer with you, and I will carry you through till you suffer no more.

Bear my name and nothing you’ve ever done or ever failed to do will change how I forever love you.”

You can sit with that. You can heal because of that.

And you can look in the mirror and no matter what you know of your father on earth —  you can know of your Father in heaven: A Father’s most important job is to know his own heart is secondary to that of His children’s.

And your Father in heaven broke His heart for you on that Cross because His love for you is second to none.

And there you are —

You can exhale the relief of the awed grace of something you’ve longed for….

You have your Father and all you’ve ever really wanted

the tenderest miracle of a redeeming Fatherhood at the core of the universe… at centre of all our seeking hearts.

 

 

 

Related: So God Made a Farmer — and a Mother
A Father’s Loveletter — for every one hurting this weekend.

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