I wanted to share with you something that I wrote in my journal a few days ago. So, some of you know about one of my new ventures, that I’m a wrestling coach now. Funny how stuff comes back around in life. I wrestled in high school and college, and started a club last year for my son Reese. Now it’s called “Slingshot Wrestling Club” and we’ve got close to 30 kids involved. It’s been an awesome place for building character, discipline, and faith into kids, and I’ve made a lot of new friends. Anyway…my 3-year-old son Jack, only one month removed from his emergency appendectomy from a burst appendix, wrestled in his first-ever tournament last weekend (yes, the doctors cleared us). Here’s some thoughts from my journal about something powerful that happened:
“3-11-14: Interesting moment yesterday—Sunday I mean—after Jack melted down in his second match and lost 8-0. I was so upset that he wasn’t trying, as we’d talked for days about this. He had been so excited about wearing a singlet and wrestling in his first tournament. It was a lot to set it up and cost money. I gave up trying to encourage him halfway through the match and just lay there watching, at least happy that he was finishing, though he lay there on his belly, wailing, not even attempting a move. When it was over, he ran to his mother’s arms, though we caught eyes. I thought I may have seen them strangely studying me, as if he was looking for something.
“I went for a walk, across the length of the gym, and I heard a young voice behind me calling for his daddy. As the room was full of kids, I assumed it couldn’t be Jack because he was with his mother on the other side. But when I turned around, I saw my dear son running toward me, his eyes still red from crying. He put up his arms and said, ‘Daddy, I want you!’
“It was so odd, because he, like all kids when-his-age in our family, rarely reaches for me when he’s in pain or emotional. He wants his Mom. But this time, he wanted me. He needed me. I could see it in his eyes.
“He needed affirmation. Did I still love him when he failed? Had I rejected him? This would not only be a big moment that day, but may be a big moment in his life.
“I picked him up and took him in my arms, kissing his sweaty little head. I told him I loved him and that I was proud of him. He buried his face into my neck and shoulder and held me tight, saying nothing. But he was saying a lot while saying nothing. Dad still loves me. I failed, and Dad still loves me. I’m secure.
“And I thought of how many boys I’d seen, even that weekend, whose fathers never ran to them when their sons reached for them. Whose coach or mentor gave the hard word when a gentle one was needed. Coldness and harshness doesn’t make them tougher. It makes them insecure and bitter.
“May God help me to be like Him to my sons. May God help me always to see His Father heart. May broken men who are now fathers see in me some glimpse of what fatherhood ought to look like, or better yet, let them see You.”
(As an aside, Jack won his next match and took 3rd! He was so excited and got a medal!)