“I am proud to call you my son,” are the words I have never heard from a man.
If you’ve read most of my posts, you know I have never known my father. Not to hear those words drives a man crazy. In one moment you’re happy and enjoying life, but then you get frustrated and you’re overwhelmed with anger. And then you see something so simple as a man playing catch with his son…and then weep. There have been many moments in my life where I have seen this, fought back the tears, but then let them go when I was home alone. That happened tonight.
Of all movies to trigger these emotions, it was How to Train Your Dragon. Today was a long day; I ran a 5k in the morning, tried to make it to my little brother’s cross country meet but couldn’t because of the Duck-game traffic, and then worked for 6 hours. And when I got home, I was in the mood for something I hadn’t seen before. So, I downloaded How to Train Your Dragon from iTunes and watched it. Little did I know that this movie would dive straight into my wound.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I would advise you to watch it before you read on because I’m about to spoil some parts. But in the scene when the biggest dragon comes out of his volcano, Night Fury finally gets released from his bonds and Hiccup immediately hops on his back. Before he takes flight, Hiccup’s dad stops him, apologizes for some mean things he said earlier, and then says, “I am proud to call you my son.” My jaw clinched. But I watched on.
After the movie was over, a sudden thought popped into my mind: What if I met my real dad? I’ve played around with the question before, but this time was different; I got angry. I got violently angry. I was so angry that I spent fifteen minutes weeping, clenching my fists, and shaking uncontrollably. Never hearing those words drives men crazy.
I know the scene in Scripture when Jesus gets baptized is supposed to be an indication of Jesus’ divinity, but when God says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” I can’t help but yearn for those words spoken to me. Like I clarified; I have never heard those words from any man, for no man, save for my biological father, could call me “son.” My grandfather’s been proud of me, my brother’s been proud of me, but God singled Jesus out as His own Son; something that I’ve never been singled out for. My mother has said this, yes, but I believe that there comes a point in a man’s life that he needs to hear those words from a man. Validation is the word that comes to mind; men need it. And Jesus came to give it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this deep anger and it probably isn’t the last, either. The only cold reality of it all is that I will never hear these words from any man in my earthly lifetime. It’s my wound to bear, so to speak. But unlike my biological dad, I see the privilege in saying those words. When I have a son of my own – if he’s adopted or not, I don’t care – I will say this to him and often. Not only because I don’t want him to go through the confusing emotional turmoil that I and many others have, but because I know at the core of my heart, at the center of all that I am, God is saying those words to me and it’d be my obligation as a father to pass them along.
I don’t think that any man’s purpose is ever fulfilled until he hears those words. They’re like a security blanket to fall back on; that no matter how many times you mess up in life, knowing that your father loves you seems to pull you on. But yet they’re more than a security blanket for they drove David to stand against a Philistine with nothing but a sling; they drove firemen into burning towers they knew they would not come out of; and when the world seems to be crashing down, these words drive men to wrap their arms around their wives and kids and let them know – not by the strength of their arms, not by the volume of their voices, but by the strength of their hearts – that they are safe in their father’s arms.
I will never receive this. But I hope – I yearn – to give it.
I don’t want any son of mine to go crazy.