This picture popped up in my facebook memories the other day. I remember when I first saw it, I was struck not only by the truth depicted, but that I had been the beneficiary of a father giving of himself to complete his son.
When I saw it more recently it evoked similar memories, but also new and exciting ones.
There is no doubt in my mind that my father gave sacrificially of himself to help make and shape me into the man I am today. I think it is quite telling that in the picture, the father is offering part of himself to the son. He isn’t forcing it into him. The experience, wisdom and strength are offered, but it is incumbent on the son to accept that, and to integrate it into his life. Dad offered me lots over his 67 years. To my detriment there were many things that that I didn’t accept, or even notice at the time. As I grew older, I was only too willing to accept the gifts. I only wish I could go back in time and accept those I rejected.
While it is true that my father helped shape me, now that he is gone, if feel there will always be a dad shaped hole in my life. I know that I still need to grow. I still need to accept wisdom and experience from father figures, but no one will be able to fill the hole that is left. If I’m honest, I intend to guard that hole. I really don’t want to forget, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that there is a need for that hole to be filled.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to look to father figures to help me. The truth is that there are other holes to be filled. As a father myself, I try to look to my son and offer him experience, wisdom, strength and love, just as my father offered me. From experience, I know that some he will accept, others, in time he will wish he had. The only reason I have these things to offer is because of my father, but in giving, new holes will appear.
I think the the only thing that I don’t like about the picture is that it seems that in giving to the son, the father becomes less. I don’t think that this is what happens in this process. In a way I don’t fully understand, the father is refilled in the process, so he can continue to give. This is a timely reminder as I consider giving to my own son.
The other way of looking at this picture is to consider the Father giving Himself to His children. You and I are the beneficiaries of this. Without what He offers, we will always have holes in our life as we try and find meaning. The only one who can give that meaning is the one who designed you and gave you life. The Father is able to fill the dad shaped hole in my heart, but as I consider that, I’m not so sure He will. I think over time He will smooth the edges of the hole, to make it less painful as it rubs against other parts of life, but I think He knows that dad was unique, and I need that hole to remember him, to recall the things that made him who he was. I have no doubt that some of the sanding of the edges will hurt a little, but I am also convinced that that pain of smoothing the edges has a purpose and will help me to grow further into the man that both my Heavenly and earthly fathers desire for me to become.