Against the Grain…

I cut myself while shaving today. It was a small little scrape. Nothing noticeable, really. But what I found interesting about this cut as opposed to all the other times I’ve erred with the razor blade is that this time, I didn’t curse my father.

Shaving may not seem like that big of a deal to many people, but when you don’t have a dad to teach you how to do it, there’s a bit of a learning curve that’s difficult to deal with. When you shave, apparently, you’re supposed to make straight strokes from top to bottom to go with the grain of your facial hair. Going against the grain causes skin irritation. It wasn’t until I came to college that I actually learned that.

Sure I probably could have picked that up from my brother or grandpa had I paid attention when I was younger, but I didn’t. My grandpa never shaved in front of me and my brother went off to boot camp around the time I started shaving. For the most part, I had to teach myself.

In general it’s a little embarrassing to have cut yourself during such a simple action, but for me, I didn’t want people to see me. If I cut myself before school started, I made it a point to keep that portion of my face hidden. I didn’t know it at the time, but the embarrassment I had with a shaving accident was intertwined with my fatherless wound.

Even in college, moments of scraping myself up before I went to class caused some nerve-wracking days. I remember sitting through various lectures hoping people couldn’t see the tiny red line on my chin. Discussion groups were the worst and to keep people from looking at me, I didn’t talk at all.

But today was different. I cut myself, cursed my razor, and continued on, thinking about all the things I would need to do today. I only bring it up because I think I’ve gotten to a point where, although razor blades still hurt when used incorrectly, the emotional wound isn’t nearly as painful as it used to be.

I realize now that anyone who reads this will probably look for the cut the next time they see me. To save them some time, I can’t even see where it’s at, but even if you do look, I no longer care. The fact that I didn’t have someone teaching me how to shave is irrelevant because I know have Someone else teaching me how to forgive. Whatever father I might have had before is a forgotten fantasy; replaced by the Father that I have in reality now.

The learning curve with Him does bring about much embarrassment and shame, but all of it is only temporal; it’s only a matter of time before we grow comfortable with the fact that we will mess up, especially when we don’t intend to. Knowing that whatever identity we gain as men or women isn’t placed in our own efforts but rather in the work of Jesus springing up through us like yeast in a ball of dough brings an indescribable peace, comfort, and tranquility to one’s heart, mind, and soul. Knowing that He is within us makes the pains of life that much less painful.

Yes, there are other areas of my life that were affected by my dad not being there and they’ll need to be dealt with, too – like walking alongside a girl into and through marriage. But with the wisdom gained from this morning’s errant razor blade, I am much more confident – not in myself or in the traditions handed down to me, but in God and His ability to work through this pain with me. Take heart; He has overcome the world (John 16:33).


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“Do not mistake me for a conjuror of cheap tricks.”

3 thoughts on “Against the Grain…”

  1. Great thought. My Dad was present physically but not so much emotionally, probably because his dad wasn’t either. I’ll have my own son in July (Lord willing) and I hope to break the cycle and give him a picture of God (though very flawed)

    1. Yeah, it’s a really common experience even for guys who have had a father. My grandpa did a lot of fathering of me that he wasn’t asked to, but yet there was still so much that he couldn’t merely because he was my grandpa and not my actual dad. I think this will be the difference for when I have kids as well; I’m flawed but I’ve got the Flawless Father within me working through me. The next challenge is continuing to seek Him and live in according to His ways.

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