Thursday, January 23, 2014

Irretrievably Broken and Tenaciously Held

A friend posted on Facebook this short clip from the old Will Smith series, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which was one of my favorite shows when it aired.

This particular clip shows James Avery comforting Will Smith when Will’s Dad bails on him – yet again. Will Smith’s character goes through all his survival mechanisms, through rage and despair, until he is a mess.

So many emotions are stirred in me watching this. I can relate to the anger, the confusion, the despair. Have a watch for yourself:

How come he don’t want me, man??

This is the core question of every man betrayed, rejected and abandoned by his father. As I’ve grown older, I realize that my Dad loved me the best he could, and I regularly forgive him with God’s help. This doesn’t change the fact that he indeed did betray me, reject me and abandon me. He made choices that deeply ingrained within me thoughts, feelings and actions of an abandoned orphan, left on his own to navigate a dark and scary world.

As much as I relate to the pain of this episode and the reality to which it points, what strikes me even more deeply is how James Avery (Uncle Phil) steps in to help Will deal with the loss. He knows he can’t be his father, can’t undo what’s been done, but he offers himself – utterly - without reserve, in love and care for this broken boy before him.

This is just what our heavenly Father does. This is what the disciple of Jesus can count on, rely on, have confidence in.

I can’t count how many times I’ve raged against my Dad in the arms of Jesus. The boy who was rejected and abandoned at age 9 had no categories for processing what was happening, nor was there anyone to step in to guide me. I didn’t feel permission at the time to be angry with my Dad, so all my fury turned inward toward myself. Self-hatred became the way I managed my kingdom, the way I survived. If I could hate myself enough, perhaps no one would ever leave me again. Twisted, eh?

How come he don’t want me, man??

Jesus is the only safe place for me to rage. Invective pours out like a sacrifice of bile. Once the raging does it’s work, Jesus’ persistent presence washes over me with an acceptance that is unmoving, a love that cannot be shaken by my violent sobs. There, in that place, I rest - in his strong and loving arms – deeply broken, shattered, splintered, stretched and agonizingly empty. But I am also at the same time held together, held tight, loved with a love stronger than any earthly force, more than mountains are high and oceans are deep.

Jesus, I don’t know why my Dad left, why he rejected me and our family. I’ll never understand it. I give up trying to understand it, I give up trying to mask the pain, trying to appear strong, trying to make life work. I give up.

I abandon myself into your loving arms. I surrender to your love.

I trust with ruthless confidence that you will never leave me or forsake me, never betray or reject me. All of reality itself would unravel before that happens. I rest in your strong, loving arms. Here I am safe, free and dearly loved. This is better news than any orphan could ever imagine! Train my arms to hold others Jesus, with the love that is holding me now and forever.

Thank you for wanting me.

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