The Long Embrace
My son and I had just spent the better part of the day with my dad, stepmom, and half-brother who was expecting his first child. We were all attending a gender reveal party at my sister-in-law’s house and had a great time. It was a unique feeling being at a party with a family that I was twice removed from, as my son and I counted as two of the only four representatives for my brother amidst the 25 others from her side.
My brother and I didn’t grow up together. The two of us never lived in the same house and although over the years we have grown significantly closer - we weren’t the brothers who wrestled and fought and played together every day. So I thought, “how did I end up here?” - as one of four folks on his side - loving him and ultimately recording something as intimate as the popping of the balloon!? ‘Seemed a little strange and foreign. Nonetheless, I was honored and excited for the life that we are all about to celebrate. They popped the balloon - “ITS A BOY!!” - the name lives on and we all cried. We had dinner, shot tequila, and talked about how great of dad my brother was going to be for his son.
The evening when my son and I were leaving, my dad walked us out and we hugged and said goodbye. It’s an odd feeling to see your father and to be a father and then watch him love your son so completely. To think about all the ways in which my son was getting what I never got. I don’t mean that as if I am jealous or envious of my son. I harbor no animosity when I speak of my fathers’ love for my son. I’m filled with both joy and sorrow as I watch my dad love my son so freely and yet hold me a few seconds longer when we hug as though I am going to slip right through his hands.
So we got in the car, closed the door to head home, and the moment I put the car in drive - I lost it. I wept for 20 miles without really understanding why. I couldn’t place the emotion or the pain. All I could do was let it out and pray that clarity would not be far behind. As I sit here - 60 days later - everything makes sense. I want desperately for my father to feel the freedom Christ has given me to love my son amidst my mistakes and failures. I want him to let go of the guilt he carries for the time we spent apart. I want him to let go of the shame he feels for being a man with three kids and two wives. I want him to let go of the need to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week in fear that if he stops working our love stops too. I want him to let go of all of those things so that he can hold on to Jesus. And if I am totally honest, I want my father to let go so that he can hold on to me.
I cannot free my father. I cannot save him. I can do nothing more than lean in a bit longer when we hug in hopes that in love and vulnerability, those things fall away and Christ moves in.
I love you dad. You are both my friend and my father. You are strong, brave, and immensely sacrificial. You are wise and you are loving. You are like Christ because He is you. You are a good man.
Do you need to share how you feel with someone you love?
Do you need to find freedom like the man above?
Do you resonate with either man?
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