‘A Fathers’ Love For His Son’

“Dad-dy!”… One of the few words that James can say (others include “please”, “no”, “more” and, rather awkwardly, “beer”).  Unlike any of his other words (especially “beer”!), when James says “Dad-dy!” he touches my heart in a very special way… there is a wonderful connection that the word forms between our two hearts.  It stirs such strong emotions in me, emotions that are bubbling up even as I write this.

James has had a very difficult week…  He struggled towards the end of term, finding transitions between home and school, or between activities, particularly hard; and that continued as we went straight to Spring Harvest, an Easter-time Christian festival in the south west of England.  James has been to Spring Harvest before, but this time he really struggled to cope right from the moment we arrived (45 minutes of refusing to get out of the car), culminating in a final dramatic meltdown on the third day (of five) and me needing to bring him home.  I’m writing this the day after; the emotions of the past 24-hours in particular still raw…

As he was collapsed in a distraught heap yesterday, vocalising his distress in the sounds he was making, lashing out, deeply upset and desperate to find our car, his way of clearly communicating that he couldn’t stay a moment longer, my heart broke in pieces once again.  A heart that has been broken so many times before, a heart that aches for James at those times when he is struggling so much to make sense of the world, a heart that longs to help him…  A heart that begins to be mended in love as he sobs into my shoulder, “Dad-dy!”

That love is unconditional…  It doesn’t matter what happens, how James responds, what he does…  I will love him unconditionally, loving him through it all. We’ll mend it all and make it better together in love…

That love is powerful…  As I show James how much he is loved, it reaches him, it changes him…  I know I don’t always get it right, but the power of that heart connection is strong, and that love overcomes all other feelings, driving them out…

James and Mark

That love is relentless…  Those of you reading this who have children with additional needs will know that many times we have to do things that are quite unpleasant, but even as we are (yet again!) clearing up something, we do it because of love…  We do it because that love never stops, never gives up…

That love has to be selfless… putting the needs of our child first, recognising and accepting that we must, in love, always put them before ourselves.  In the “It’s all about me!” and “Because you’re worth it!” world we live in, that’s counter cultural, but love can and does conquer all.

And that love is eternal…  I will love James and do all I can for him until the day I die, but I look beyond then to spending eternity with him, and that wells up such joy within my very soul!

As I write this, I am reminded of this Psalm…  “A father is tender and kind to his children. In the same way, the Lord is tender and kind to those who have respect for him.” Psalm 103:13 (NIrV)  Great words that show us where that tenderness and kindness, that love, that we show to our children, comes from.  We are all children of God!  I realise, and am saddened, that not every child has that kind of relationship with their earthly father, but all can have that kind of relationship with our heavenly father.

I am also reminded, on this Easter week, that 2,000 years ago a son, distraught and desperate, cried out “Abba, Father!”… He said, “Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” Mark 14:36 (NIVUK)…  I cannot even begin to comprehend what this did to God the Father; knowing that the only way for us all to be saved was for Jesus, his son, to go to that cross, knowing that he could stop it all in an instant, but knowing the terrible cost.

I know that if that had been James, crying “Dad-dy!”, I couldn’t have left him there, I couldn’t have let it happen to him.  But I know that God the Father let Jesus go to that cross because there is an equally strong love that he has, a love for each one of us…  And the only way for us to be saved was through Jesus.

If you want to know more about this unconditional, powerful, relentless, selfless, eternal love that God the Father has for each one of us, you can read about it here, in the Fathers’ Love Letter:   www.fathersloveletter.com

James and I will go out to a couple of his favourite places this afternoon, to try and help him get over his difficult week.  The first is a farm shop, where we will buy his favourite snacks; to get to the snacks, we will have to walk past a display that will allow James to use one of his few words, “Beer!”…  We’ll laugh, and buy his snacks, and then go on to a lovely little café at an old grass airfield where we’ll drink lemonade, eat millionaires shortbread, and watch the little planes take off and land…  At some point James will touch my cheek or my mouth and, with love in his eyes, say “Dad-dy!”

And so life, and love, will go on… Unconditionally, powerfully, relentlessly, selflessly, eternally…

Mark
13th April 2017

Image rights: Mark Arnold

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