In recent days I’ve discussed the importance of fathers passing on blessing and affirmation to their sons. But for many of you, this begs the question: What should a grown man do who didn’t receive these gifts from his own father and sees little likelihood that he ever will?
The most important thing is not to give up on the possibility of reconciliation. Many men, well into their adult lives, have experienced a healing reunion with a father who never affirmed his son as he should have. People and circumstances change. God graciously intervenes into our broken lives and relationships. And for that reason, never dismiss, abandon, or kill your hope. Many fathers in the sunset years of life have found ways to convey long-overdue blessings, love, acceptance, and affirmation on sons who grew up lacking those precious gifts.
Still, the sad truth remains that for some men this will never happen. For a variety of reasons, a man may be left without the opportunity to gain emotional and personal closure from his own father. In that case, the affirmation and blessing of God the Father is all the more important.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, His Father becomes your Father. You are known, loved, and accepted by Him’regardless of your experience with your earthly father. He is a Father to both the physically and emotionally fatherless. There is healing in Him, which means there is hope for you.
A man wrote this comment about his relationship with his wife: ‘I did not reveal myself to her. I stuffed many of my thoughts, emotions, and needs that I feared would lead to rejection if I voiced them’This was cutting her off’I believe this was an abdication of my responsibility. I have known for many, many years that honesty and openness is God’s way but had not really come to terms with it until recently.’
As a man, you likely agree that not every emotion you feel’for example, fear, inhibition, or intimidation’is good. You probably realize honesty and openness is God’s desire but struggle to obey. Haven’t you wondered if Adam ever said ‘I’m sorry’ to Eve. Think about it. There he was in the Garden, listening to Satan tempt his wife, and he did nothing to interfere, to keep her from giving in. And the rest is history.
As one prominent psychologist noted, ‘Adam was there and he was silent.’ I wonder if Adam ever spoke to Eve about his shame. And I wonder if we men have inherited his silence.
You don’t have to give in to the temptation of silence. Share yourself with your wife. Come to terms with the fact that the silence that fills your home is like a fog and obscures you from her. But you can begin to clear the fog. Give her the opportunity to receive what you say with trust and grace. It might be scary. But you can do it.
Most men have Dad-stories, don’t they? I sure do. But in his book, When Men Think Private Thoughts, Gordon MacDonald makes the observation that men with positive Dad-stories are in the minority. MacDonald finds the majority of Dad-stories he hears are about anger and regret’stories punctuating the sad reality that the son never really knew his dad, or his dad never seemed to be around, or his father never conveyed to him that he loved him and enjoyed being his father.
Do Gordon MacDonald’s observations parallel your own? Many men don’t have as many positive Dad-stories as they should have’or need to have.
Guys, have you ever considered the connection between the fact that Jesus of Nazareth appears to have been the most assured man to ever walk the face of the earth and what His Father said to Him when He began His public life: ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).’ That simple statement contains two things every man needs to know from his father: he’s loved, and he’s well pleasing. To pronounce such a blessing upon a young man or woman’of any age for that matter’releases pent-up anxiety that constantly wants to know, ‘How am I doing, Dad?’
If you’re listening, and you have a son or a daughter, give him or her this invaluable gift. Let them hear your affirmation, and let then know they’re pleasing to you.