The other day there was an accident. My six-year old son was supposed to be in bed and he got up and made a bit of a mess. Not on purpose, but a mess just the same. It’s not so much that he was “bad,” but that this was another in a long line of adventures after the announcement of bedtime. Something about that time of day that brings out reasons why he’s not quite tired.
I was a little irritated, but didn’t respond with any anger as I worked to clean it up. As I was working on the mess, I heard Haynes crying. I turned and asked him why he was crying and he said, “I thought you would be mad at me.”
I’m not immune from anger but, for the most part and in large measure, I have not been angry with him much. We have a good relationship and I’m pleased with my kids. When I mess up, I admit it to them (at least I think that’s the landscape, from my perspective). In any case, I’m trying and generally express my pleasure with them.
In this instance, I held his head in my hands and looked him in the face. I told him, “I’m not mad at you and I’m always, always going to be OK with you. I always approve of you and you are always, always my guy. I love you.”
Haynes has heard similar things from me before, but he needed to be reminded that this incident didn’t jeopardize my pleasure with him. Everything changed. He had a smile that appeared to originate from the depth of his soul. There was peace and restoration and he went back to bed and quickly to sleep.
There is a need inside of us that needs our dad’s approval. The need exceeds the ability of our father to satisfy the craving as no dad is that perfect. We want deeply to be affirmed in our place as sons and daughters by the man who has the best shot at it. The problem is that the man with the best shot at it misses sometimes. Even the best ones are flawed ones.
The destination for the ultimate approval and affirmation is the Father. Our dads provide a bridge to the love of the Father, and His love is perfect. He will hold our head in His hands whenever we go to Him and need the soothing of a troubled soul. He’ll tell us that we’re OK with Him and our pleasure will originate from the depth of our core. Then we can rest.