Rock legend Bruce Springsteen opened up his heart in an interview with The New Yorker late last year. He noted that the lyrics of songs like Adam Raised a Cain were ripped from his personal struggle with his unresponsive father. “My dad was very nonverbal- you really couldn’t have a conversation with him,” Springsteen explained, “But I had to have a conversation with him because I needed to have one.” Writing and performing songs about his father was his way of drawing his brooding parent into some kind of relationship.
Later in the interview, Springsteen confessed he is still animated and puzzled by an adolescent yearning for his late father’s approval. In fact, he quotes another great musician, T-Bone Burnett, who insists that rock and roll is just one “long, embarrassing scream of Daaaddy!” And rock concerts aren’t the only place where men and women wail for their dads. It’s everywhere! It can be heard among ninth grade boys disrupting science classes with an inexplicable rage; young women hooking up with unfamiliar men hoping and failing to find satisfaction; the army of graying, forty-five year old males sitting by hospital beds around the world hoping a dying man will finally whisper, “Son, I’m proud of you.”
Kids are demanding. They are demanding because God has hard wired them all with a nearly unquenchable hunger for dad. They burn for Daddy’s affirming touch and his affectionate gaze; they yearn for his direction, his wisdom, his experience. They wait for it to be poured into them with love and encouragement, not hammered in as a lecture with rivets. Kids need to see the Old Man succeed and not get cocky; fail and not be crippled by it. Boys and girls learn about God through their relationship with the male half of their parenting team. If their father is distant, they will naturally assume God is aloof as well. If Father is angry, kids grow up expecting God to pounce at any moment.
One tireless, talented Mom can do everything a healthy child will ever require of a mother, but every child needs two fathers. Our earthly dads are stretched too thin, worn down by the week-end, and prone to bouts of anger at the strangest moments. But a wise dad wakes up every morning and tries again. He finds a way to pay attention today when he was distracted yesterday. He recognizes an opportunity for offering some encouragement today, realizing he was too harsh the day before. He doesn’t apologize- just starts over. And he role models absolute confidence in the love and authority of Jesus Christ. That will eventually be enough to lead a child to his heavenly Father. And in the end, that is the greatest gift any man can ever afford a daughter or son.
Lift up the Cross!