A couple months ago, I gave a message on God as our Everlasting Father. I don’t think that I walk around trying to please a parent who could never be pleased with my best, and I think I shared something to that effect in the message. I like to think that I have a relatively secure sense of my worth as a human being. In fact, one of Alison’s long standing observations concerning me is that I don’t long for or seemingly need the approval of others to feel ok about myself.
Naturally, there are drawbacks to this sort of approach to life. Because I don’t perceive approval of others as a need of my own, I’m often perplexed by others (pretty much the rest of humanity) who do. Leading to a general sense of superiority that has resulted in the often mocked self-designation – the most well-adjusted person I know. There are numerous other drawbacks, but we are starting to drift from the point of the post. Leave it to say, I tend to see myself as having been minimally scarred by my family’s dysfunction.
And yet, I still can’t explain why it is that movies depicting relational dynamics between men (young or old) and their fathers (or father figures) have the effect they do on me. In the service a couple months ago, a clip from In Good Company was used to underscore my point. It could have just as easily been Lars and the Real Girl. Or even the movie I saw for the first time tonight – August Rush. There isn’t even that much interaction between “August” and his father, but the little there was was enough.
There is a scene towards the end of the movie where unbeknownst to either of them, father and son meet for the very first time. And when they do, it is to have an impromptu jam session playing guitars together in a park. And what you notice in both of their faces is the sheer delight to share in each other’s love for and talent in music. So much from the movie was powerful and moving, and yet what I’ll likely remember five years from now is that scene.
Which I think is bringing me closer to understanding (maybe) what it is I missed out on from my own father. In the end, I don’t think what I’m looking for – or for that matter what anyone else is looking for – is approval in the sense of “you’ll do, you’re ok, you’re adequate.” Rather it is that thing that August and his father experienced in the park… delight. And specifically delight in each other. I have good memories of time with my father, but some of the best were when we would ski together. It was something we both enjoyed immensely and were relatively good at. Perhaps we even delighted in each other’s skill and appreciation for the sport’s athleticism and grace.
And all that I’ve written so far is one long introduction to Wright’s thoughts for today that prompted this convoluted post:
Many young people in the modern Western world find it, or at least believe it to be, very difficult to please their parents. Whatever we do just doesn’t seem to reach the high standard expected. Many continue through their whole adult life, even after their parents have died, still trying somehow to please them or at least appease them. Such people find the idea of pleasing God almost laughable. It seems quite impossible that God, being all-knowing and all-wise, could actually be pleased with them… Clearly Paul does not look at the matter like that at all. For Paul, God is pleased when he sees his image being reproduced in his human creatures by the Spirit. The slightest steps they take towards him, the slightest movements of faith and hope, and particularly of love, give God enormous delight… God delights in us, and, like a parent, he is thrilled when, we, his children, taken even the first small steps towards the full Christian adulthood he has in store for us.
To this, I would want to add Piper’s small, but all-important, caveat – what God delights in about us is that we delight in him. So really, it is a doubly incredible truth… that God delights in us, but also that we can delight in Him.
Now, if we could only get Wright and Piper to delight in each other.