Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers - An Unexpected Love

I am thinking about Father's day...probably because it is June already. My father-in-law has been gone for two years now, and my own Dad has been gone since 1995. So now as patriarch of the family, I am the object of Father's Day. My boys are grown men now and live in different states. I may be surprised by a card or a gift, but mostly I anticipate a couple of  Father's Day phone calls. My sons still want to communicate with me and I claim that as a return-on-an-investment....of love.

Contrary to a father's love, a mother's love is expected. We expect a mother to nurture and show affection to her children. Open displays of affection are no problem....for a mom. We would consider it abnormal if she did not display affection for her children. However, open displays of affection are not expected from fathers. Being a man is all about displaying courage, but how about the courage to love? ....and the courage to show it? 

In the Gospel book of Luke we find the story of the prodigal son. Too often this passage is preached emphasizing the waywardness of the son. However it is the behavior of the father that we should take note of. The father who looks up expectantly and upon seeing his son runs out to meet him.  The father embraces his son and kisses him. That is the point of the story: a father who loves his son unconditionally and isn't afraid to show it. Certainly the story speaks of God's love for his children, but it also speaks of a father's love for his son.

I was brought up not to show love, because a man is not supposed not openly display it. I had to learn how to love. I thank God I was able to learn it, much of it from my wife's family. I made it a point (and still do) to tell my sons that I love them and give them a hug when I see them. The hugs are tighter now because I don't get to see them all that often.

In the last three years of his life, my father and I lived in different cities, two hours distant. My visits to his home were less frequent, but distance was a catalyst for change. Upon entering the door, I hugged my father lightly and cautiously, but my father hugged me tighter! Knowing your father loves you is one thing, but feeling it is all encompassing.

So my challenge to fathers is to love.... and be courageous enough to show it! If you are a young dad, then you have a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show love to your children. If you are older, there are still opportunities to express a fathers' love.  It is never to late to learn or be open to change.