I post this on my 60th Birthday while reflecting "where they've gone"!
I can almost remember the day I pondered the structured rules imposed on me as a child and then noting the obvious freedom my dad seemed to have as a “grown man”. I wondered what it would be like to be a “man” myself, and couldn’t wait for that glorious day I could do as I pleased. I will be sixty years old this spring and still find myself wondering what it’ll be like when I become a man. How old do we have to be before we consider ourselves grown? When can we start doing what we please?
I think I always wanted to hear my dad say, out loud, not implied, “Today you are a man!”, but that never happened. He passed on when I was in my early thirties, and never uttered those words to me. Thinking of him being dead today is not what makes me misty-eyed. It’s having never heard him say those words in pride.
I don’t think it’s written down somewhere that a father has to tell his son when he has become a man, but I sometimes think that I might think of myself differently today, had he spoken those five words to me, but I can never be sure. Maybe I would still feel like the little boy who was running around 35 or 55 years ago full of energy and worry free, yet still taking note of what I wanted to be like as a “grown man”, even if he had.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad was a good father. It was just something that I seemed to want from him, based on some need deep inside. I probably should have spoken to him about it, but I always wanted it to come up naturally and from deep inside him. It would have been great had he acknowledged me as God did His son twice saying, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17/17:5).
I’ll never know if there would have been a difference in the way I feel about myself or not. All I’m left with is that same little boy inside, who’s maybe seventeen now, masquerading around in a 60 year old body, still waiting to grow up.
I don’t know where this “need” originated, all I know is I still look for satisfaction in the eyes of my wife, my son, my step-daughter, and my grand-baby. Maybe that’s the legacy I was left! Maybe that is what makes me strive to be the best husband, father, and Papaw I can. They may never utter those exact words, but they might at least remember me as a “real man”. Maybe we never reach an age when we deserve to be called a man. Maybe one day we are just remembered as being the best man they knew. Luckily, I believe there will come a day when, not only can my dad again speak to me, but when those that remember my example can tell me I was one of the best men they ever knew.
To accomplish this goal, I have an entire lifetime to work on my image. So the answer to my second question is: we can never do as we please. We have an obligation to our wives, husbands, and children to do what is right - to set the example for how they should live their lives and to be remembered themselves.
Best of all, if we set the example and it gets passed on, our spiritual father will one day say, “This is my son/daughter, whom I love; with him/her I am well pleased.”