For a good part of my life, I’ve always believed that “He is a hard worker” was a great compliment. It is. Hard work is at the core of my soul.
However, my son Paul sent me an email this afternoon that was better by factor of ten- thousand.
In 1985, when Ann and I were engaged, we attended a Family Life Conference (http://www.familylife.com/) in Minneapolis to begin building a foundation for our marriage. On the way home–all the way home–for five hours I wept as I described the men’s session led by Robert Lewis (http://mensfraternity.com/dr_robert_lewis/).
He had men call out one word to describe their dad. Man after man said things like, “Angry, violent, drunk, absent, distant, dishonest, unfaithful…” Overwhelmingly negative. There were very, very few positive comments. This was a room full of several hundred grown men–all broken by their fathers. Lewis then challenged us to break the chain of weak, absent and angry fathers and leave a positive legacy with our children. To love our children as a representative of our Heavenly Father.
As I described the session to Ann on the way home, I wept because of my own pain. My dad was absent. He was dishonest. He was unfaithful. He later became an alcoholic. As a young man in central Iowa, I was always embarrassed when someone said they knew my dad. I feared that my dad might have conned them out of a significant sum of money.
I wept for five hours because I had been broken at the core of my being.
I wept because I didn’t want to be like my dad. I wanted to be a good dad, to spend time with my children, to teach them values and to love them like my Father in heaven loved me.
Now twenty-seven years later, my son Paul sent me an email. He had just read a blog post (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/10/09/a-good-dad-is-hard-to-find/) this afternoon about the negative impact dads can have on their children and how that can distort one’s image of our heavenly Father. This distortion often prevents men and women from trusting in the True Father.
I wept this afternoon because he thanked me for being “such a great picture of our heavenly Father.” Paul certainly knows that I’m not anything close to a perfect dad. Yet, in the big picture over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been able to love him as God’s representative.
I weep as I pen this blog now, because I had broken the chain of weak and absent dads. I weep because Paul paid me the greatest compliment that I can receive this side of heaven.
I have been more like my Father than my dad.