The picture was posted for the purpose of derision.
The caption on Twitter was “Do you think this is an appropriate father-son interaction”?
The answer was assumed to be, almost demanded to be, “no”.
I never knew the affection of a father, never felt that sort of security.
There were a few years of chaos, then many more years of nothing after we left.
The only thing I did have was a void that caused pain whenever I crossed its boundaries in my soul.
When I was in my late teens I became friends with a family that would often invite me into their home for dinner.
Before the two boys in the family would go off to bed, their father would kiss them both and tell them he loved them…the boys would respond in kind.
It was unforced and natural, beautiful and yet so foreign to me.
It made me uncomfortable and anxious…like a stray cat watching another cat served breakfast, hoping some scraps would be left for them.
It was too late for me to know this kind of affection, but I swore that if I ever had my own children they would know it like my friends children did.
In the meantime, I filled that void with cigarette smoke and liquor, the perfect accompaniment to smoldering rage.
Male authority figures were not to be trusted, reasons were found to despise them.
I took on other role models and emulated those whose own voids led them to brokenness and failure.
Somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through.
It’s still hard for me to pray the prayer that begins with “Our Father”…
It’s still hard for me to receive and give affection.
I never had children by blood, I have a godson by choice.
He ends every phone call with “I love you” and waits for me to respond in kind.
I do…almost all the time.
Almost…because the void has shrunk, but won’t ever leave.
I tell myself I respond for his sake, but that is a lie.
I respond because it’s the only way my own father and I will ever find redemption, though he is long dead.
I respond because this is the only time I have ever believed anyone who said those words and I want to believe nothing more.
I respond because in believing the boy, I can believe God.
“Do you think this is an appropriate father-son interaction”?
Yes, and there’s nothing more important.
Make your own application…