“Son I am so proud of you. Great job today. You did so good,” said a father to his son.
For a man, for a boy, those are the words we long for. It doesn’t matter how tough you are, how disconnected or close you are with your father, they matter. We long to know that we have what it takes, that we did something important or good, that we are loved by our father.
When my dad left I was 13. I had no idea how it would affect me. It did in a lot of ways, some, to this day, linger, I am soon to be 60. I am not leaning on the past hurts or using them as a crutch or excuse. If you know the garbage by the front door needs to go out you can choose to take it out or let it sit and stink. Sometimes, if it took you a while to get it out, the smell can linger. It is not that the garbage is still there, just an occasional whiff. The important part is to get the garbage out. Let the trash man take it away. Clean your house.
It was not uncommon up to just a few years ago that if you disagreed with me, got mad me, embarrassed me or called me out on something, I closed the door on our relationship. I didn’t give it a lot of thought, if I had I would have seen that it was a brokenness in me that kept me from learning why there was a problem and how to solve it. I just left, it was easy.
Then there was that day I argued with my buddy Joe Don. Joe Don is a few years my elder and a dear friend who had never, ever hurt me or betrayed me, ever. That day, I can’t remember the reason, I got mad at him and for me that was it we were done. He called me and confronted me with these words, “TJ, I love you. I care about you and I am not leaving. I am here and that is that.”
Those words took away a huge stronghold satan had on me. A man who loved me, cared about me, and even in hard times or broken moments he was not going to abandon me. Words a boy inside longed to hear. Words a man need to heal.
As I was preparing to write this a dear friend sent me an email. He told me he had talked to his dad. His dad left him at age 7 and rarely talked to him. His heart was so broken. Then this week he called, asked how he was and told him he was proud of him. Joy, overwhelming joy. He told me he had waited 30 years to hear that from his father.
We all so desperately long for those words. The fatherless boys of our world yearn to hear them too. I make it a point to try to speak affirmations over the boys I spend time with. I tussle their hair and say, “Good job buddy, I am proud of you.” It is exactly what a boy needs. It rockets a mentor to the top of the list of trusted men in the boy’s life. Maybe the only one up there.
You earn the authority to speak into a boy’s life by spending time with them. You also create a desire to be with you and allow you in when you affirm them, bless them, show you care for them. That can be, “I am so proud of you. Great job today. You did so good.”
Next time you are with your son or a KOZ boy, affirm them, validate them, let them know you care about them. Those are golden nuggets that never lose value, ever.