I met a young guy the other day who was nine days out of prison. He had four children by a couple of different mothers and was not currently in contact with any of them. He wasn’t working, and by his own admission had not been trying very hard to find work.
The first inclination many people might have would be to draw conclusions about this 25 year-old’s worth. They would often label him with derogatory descriptors and, in some ways, their labels would be accurate. Let’s go a little further before we write this guy off, though.
I asked him where is father was. “Florida,” he said.
Do you stay in touch with him? “No,” he replied. “I didn’t meet him until I was eighteen and he hasn’t wanted anything to do with me unless he wants something. He’s a drunk.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, that’s terrible,” I responded.
Now, what he said next I could have predicted from a mile away. Not because I am smart, but because it is practically the universal response to this situation among young men. Here it comes, get ready for it . . .
“It’s OK, it doesn’t matter,” he said.
It does, too. In fact, it’s likely the defining thing in his life to date. While it doesn’t excuse a thing, it does provide context. There is devastation in the wake of rejection and hurt of a father who has failed his son and, in fact, flat-out rejected his son. The impact is far-reaching and often a generational snowball of pain and destruction. As Exhibit A, I refer you back to the fact that this young father was not in the lives of his children. By his own shameful admission, “I’m doing the same thing to them that he did to me.”
We’ll see what happens with this guy. My hope is that he finds his Father. Not just his Savior, but his Father. That can heal everything. We need the Father’s love and acceptance. It’s not a want, but a need. Without it, we are absolutely lost.
By the end of our one hour meeting, my new friend offered an unprovoked admission that “it would be meaningful if he (his dad) would reach out to me.” Of course it would. That affirmation of a father is what every heart yearns for. Without it, we are absolutely lost.