A Father’s Day To Remember

by Linda Lawrence

At the stroke of ten on a Saturday night I received a phone call from our fifteen-year-old son, Sean. “Hey Mom, I’m at Dan’s house. He’ll bring me home as soon as he gets his car running. Be sure and tell Dad I called.” 

I offered to pick him up, but he reassured me Dan could bring him home. “Be sure and tell Dad I called,” he repeated. 

Carl had gone to bed, but I peeked in and saw he was awake. I gave him Sean’s message and was startled with his quiet response. “He’s lying.” 

“No, no, he told me where he’s at.”

“When the phone rang, I knew it would be Sean.” Carl sighed as he added, “And he would lie.” 

“Well, why didn’t you answer the phone then?” I was frustrated at Carl’s suspicion and certainty. “Oh Carl, I’m sure you’re wrong. If it will help you sleep, I’ll drive over to Dan’s and get him.” His silence told me he knew Sean wouldn’t be there. 

I grabbed the keys and headed for Dan’s. 

Sadly, Carl was right. The house and garage were dark, with no sign of anyone working on a car. My heart sank. Images of confrontation and blame filled my head. I feared angry words between father and son, causing wounds that wouldn’t heal, rushing them to an impasse. Please, God, I begged, give Carl wisdom and self-control. And please help Sean to accept responsibility for his lie— to not try to justify himself.

Pulling into our driveway, I saw Carl, dressed, and sitting on the front steps— waiting. “I’m staying here until I see who brings Sean home,” he said. 

There was little more to be said. I went inside, my stomach in turmoil, but the living room was peaceful, quiet. I, too, sat waiting, looking at a small pile of gifts on the loveseat—gifts the kids had earlier wrapped for Carl. Tomorrow was Father’s Day. 

Eighteen-year-old Shannon arrived home around 11 o’clock, got the gist of what was happening from her Dad before coming in. Knowing my propensity toward blaming myself, Shannon exhorted me. “Mom, I know what you’re thinking. This is not your fault. Kids don’t set out planning to hurt their parents. They just do stupid things without even thinking. So don’t start blaming yourself!” I hadn’t begun my usual guilt trip yet, but Shannon knew that would be coming. 

“I’ll try,” I said, taking her admonition to heart. We settled in to wait for whatever was next. Finally, after midnight, we heard a car stop outside. Shannon had her ear to the door, but could hear nothing except the car leaving. Several minutes passed. Indistinguishable talking was all we heard until Carl and Sean approached the door. Shannon hurried to join me on the other end of the couch, trying to look nonchalant when they walked in. 

Carl sat down on the loveseat, next to the stacked gifts, and solemnly announced, “Sean has something to tell you.”  

“I lied about where I was.” Sean’s head was bowed and he shuffled his feet. “I was with Gil and his girlfriend. I’m sorry.” Gil was a college-age friend we thought we could trust. 

“Go on and tell them the rest,” Carl said.

Sean lowered his eyes and whispered, “I had a beer.” 

Having finally confessed everything, he fell into a miserable heap on the corner swivel chair. Having a beer may not seem like a big deal, but in our house, for a 15-year-old, it was a big deal and Sean knew it. 

Carl stood, sweeping his hand toward the gifts, saying quietly, “I can’t take these. I failed as a father, or you would not have thought you had to lie. I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow—maybe go for a long drive to figure out where I went wrong—but I can’t celebrate Father’s Day.” 

Sean’s head shot up. “It wasn’t you. It was me!” Bending over, head in his hands, he cried convulsively, “It wasn’t you, it was me. . .” 

Carl fought to control his mixed emotions. His mouth trembled as he lost the battle. Seeing their tears, Shannon began to cry. 

“I hope you can see sin doesn’t hurt just you.” Carl said as he stood up. Looking at each of us in turn, he said, “It hurts all of us. You’re crying. I’m crying. Shannon’s crying. Your mom’s crying . . . on the inside,” he added as he noticed my dry eyes. 

I couldn’t cry. I was too thrilled with Sean’s lack of defensiveness, with the lack of conflict and blame. God was answering my prayer.

Carl looked at me, his eyes asking if anything was left unsaid. I smiled, satisfied, amazed at his surprising meekness, humility and self-control. He put his hand on Sean’s heaving shoulder, squeezed it and went off to bed—obviously drained of strength. 

Sean went to his room and closed the door, but Shannon and I could hear him, still sobbing as though his heart were broken.

“Mom, I feel so bad for him. Can I go talk to him?” 

“Of course,” I told her, “go ahead.” He was obviously mourning over his sin, so we felt free, even eager, to comfort him. Shannon tried, but he would not be comforted. 

As Shannon and I started to process together the night’s emotional drama, we heard a door open and close. Looking out the window, I saw Sean walking up the street. Running after him, I put my arms around him, smelling the beer. “It’s all right Sean. It’s okay. We love you. Come on home.” 

“I’ve got to walk, Mom. I’ve just got to walk.” 

His back was stiff, unyielding and unable to receive my affection so I let him go. “Okay, but come home soon. Know we love you.” His pathetic countenance could have broken my heart if I wasn’t confident our Heavenly Father was using his pain and repentance to form his character—and his relationship with his father.

Just as I was returning to the house, Carl was coming out–dressed again. “Honey,” I said, “he says he needs to walk. He’ll be okay. Let him go.”

“I will, but I want to be sure he’s safe.” So, as Sean strode around the block, walking off his tension and grief and shame, his father followed in the shadows, lovingly keeping watch. 

When the clock struck two, everyone was finally in their own bed. Carl and I held each other, two fatigued parents. Carl whispered, “What do you think I should  do about Father’s Day, now?”

“I don’t know . . . Everything’s okay, isn’t it?” We laid awake, silently rehashing the emotional night, eventually falling asleep.

 In the morning we saw a note for us from Sean, slid under our door. I’m sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me. . .  

We went to church, had dinner, opened gifts, spoke gently to each other all day, feeling like we had inherited the earth. 

I’m sure our Heavenly Father celebrated with us that Father’s Day.

Linda Lawrence has a passion for passing on personal stories of the reality of God's faithfulness and loving intervention in the affairs of His children

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com

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