Most men tend to stuff. Often, we trade our grief or sorrow for anger. But in order to release the past into God’s hands, you must fully encounter your grief, and you must be willing to forgive yourself and others for the pain that’s occurred.
This isn’t easy. But we can learn from some people who went before us. Many of the Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon had forgotten the laws of God. During the exile, they hadn’t been taught his laws, so, naturally, they hadn’t practiced them. After rebuilding the city wall and the Temple, the priests gathered the people together to read the Book of the Law. The people were overwhelmed with grief and began sobbing because their lives in no way measured up. But the priests said to them:
‘Today is a sacred day before the Lord your God’Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:9-10).
The process of releasing the past requires grief and forgiveness. Then you are given the ‘joy of the Lord’ as your strength. This joy comes from recognizing, even celebrating, God’s ability to set you free from the past, and in doing so, a new way of life.
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.