I thought a lot about what would be a neat gift to get you this Father’s Day, and I realized that more than anything, I wanted to write you this letter. I’ve been meaning to write it for a while, and Father’s day gives me a good, hard deadline.
First off, I want to share a story with you:
A few weeks ago, instead of having our usual men’s Bible study at church, we watched a movie at someone’s apartment. I had never heard of it, but it was a big deal for someone so we ended up watching this movie called ‘Flywheel’. On the surface, it was one of the most low-budget, unprofessional movies that I have ever seen. It was actually done by a church, and I don’t think anyone involved with the whole project was a professional.
But the message of the movie came through very well, and it even had several subtle lessons to be learned. When it was over, we discussed it a little bit.
Now you have to picture me, my friend Dan (about 26-27 years old), and probably 8 other guys who are all at least 35 — and most of them retired. At first our conversation was pretty surfacey, until a very strong, German personality asked the question, “What parts of the movie made you cry?” He said that for him, it was one particular part of the movie where the main character’s dad tells him that he loves him, and that he’s proud of him. He said that his father was a very proud man, and he never told him either of those things, and it has always made him question himself.
Then, one by one, all but maybe 2 guys in the room agreed and said the same thing. Each one had a different way of saying that he always wondered what his father thought of him — whether he was proud of him. Some said that they knew he did because he communicated it by spending time with them or allowing them to come to work or to come fishing. Some said that their father had already passed away and they had to just hope that he would be proud if he could see them today.
I wanted to speak up and praise my dad and tell everyone how you have never failed to give me that kind of affirmation, but I couldn’t.
I couldn’t because I was actually tearing up as the power of that reality impacted me. For the first time in a long time – and maybe the first time ever – I tried to envision what my life would look like if right now, at age 25, I wasn’t sure you are proud of me, and that you love me whether I succeed or not.
The best I can do at putting words around it is to say that you have given me freedom and courage.
You have given me freedom because I know that if you hadn’t consistently communicated to me – over and over again – that you trust me and my decision making, then I know that even today, the first question I would probably ask is, “What is my dad going to think?” instead of, “What is the right thing to do?” or “What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?”
And you have given me courage by always teaching me, through your words and actions, that you believe in me. Would I have done all the crazy stuff I did in college, or gone to the other side of the world, or pursued any of the dreams that I have if I thought that you didn’t expect me to succeed? I doubt it. If I did, it would have been with a lot more doubt in my mind.
I could spell it out a lot of other ways, but I really just want you to know that I’m thankful for the father that God has given to me in you. And I am so impressed by how you have done such a great job without any real role models to look at and mimic. I imagine that in many ways you seek to be the father you wish had.
And in a weird way, that encourages me as I prepare to be father. I am overwhelmed at the responsibility of being entrusted with a human life. But I look at the father you have been to me, and I am encouraged that if you can do a good job without a good example, then maybe I can do OK having had a pretty good experience to work from…
(The rest is personal :0)