“He didn’t tell me how to live, he lived and let me watch him do it”
It’s August and around here we’re beginning to think about football. Admittedly I’m one of those fans who counts on television re-plays to actually get what is going on – but nevertheless I do love this game. Can’t help it. My dad and brothers were/are football fans – and I grew up with the sounds of Minnesota Gopher football accompanying all autumn chores. No doubt this year once again we’ll be hoping against hope that Minnesota will have a decent year – and at least trounce the Badgers in November at Camp Randall! I am an alum after all – and have a natural bias.
But somehow it is the Vikings that really get the Awes’ juices flowing – and I include here my sons-in-law – as we all wear the purple. The whole Awes reunion clan – including our Bears and Steelers’ diehards – took the light rail downtown just to walk around the perimeter of the new US Bank Viking stadium – which is spectacular!
Mr. A. and I had season tickets for years, only to relinquish them about a year too soon. 2009 was my favorite season ever. This was the year that Brett Favre briefly became a Viking. He brought us to the brink of the Super Bowl in the most fun season ever. His laughter, joy and brotherhood transformed the team single-handedly – and for a moment we had a glimpse that even pro-football could be simply fun!
So it was with great expectation and loyalty that we watched the Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies last Saturday – from Canton, Ohio. We were especially interested in Tony Dungy, (a former All America U of M quarterback and a Viking defensive coordinator ), and Favre, but it turned out that all of these old fellows had something to say in their acceptance speeches – and it was invariably entwined with gratitude, affection and emotion. On several occasions even the Lord was mentioned – though the papers forgot to include those references. (Duh. . .) Tony Dungy is known as a man of God and is respected throughout the country – and of course, the football world. When he speaks the Lord’s name it’s clear that he’s talking about his closest friend.
Brett Favre was the last to speak and the crowd was plump with the green and gold of “Packer nation” – as the planners had envisioned. Brett made up his speech as he went along. This guy is flawed like the rest of us – but so likable. A Mississippian, he grew up with folks who were teachers, his dad a high school football coach.
The more Brett talked the more he revealed. As he thanked those in his life who had helped him on his life journey, he became choked with emotion. We began to see the boy in the man. Of course it was the boy who all those years laughed and had fun as he was playing his game – capturing us all, reminding us that this is in fact, a game!
Brett then told of his father’s dying – and of the moment when his wife, (his sweetheart since the age of 14,) told him that his dad had told her that he looked forward to the day when he could introduce Brett at the Football Hall of Fame. His dad evidently had never even implied to Brett that he might reach that goal, but from that day on Brett strived to accomplish the award.
Now we’re well into the speech – and Brett is rambling – and telling us in stumbling words that his father was never able to say aloud to him the words that every son longs to hear. I believe it must have been these words:
“My son, I am so proud of you. No matter what you do in life I will always treasure you and be at your side. You are a wonderful and amazing person. Be happy. Be yourself. Never forget that I love you.”
Brett went on to tell the story of the day when waiting for his father outside his office he heard his father say to another coach, “Don’t worry about Brett – next time he will redeem himself.” It was the closest his father ever came to suggesting that he had faith in Brett – and the boy determined that one day he would redeem himself in his father’s eyes.
Brett then, choking back his tears, suggested that he hoped that in making the Hall of Fame that day he did in fact redeem himself for his father. It was a moment of raw exposure of a man in search and need of his father’s approval.
The sports commentators afterward only spoke of Brett’s tremendous respect for his father – and those of us watching were stunned by their lack of insight – or willingness to speak truth.
The smallest bit of internet research will turn up dozens of lists which enumerate characteristics of a good father. That I grew up with my father’s spoken and unspoken approval and affection is, I believe, the number one reason for my relatively healthy and relaxed sense of self.
A father to his children is . . . .
- blessing them with spoken words and actions
- a physical presence in their lives
- providing and protecting them
- teaching and disciplining them
- stable and kind
- an example of moral and fair character
- affectionate and loving to them and their mother
- bringing them to God
The words of I Corinthians 13 are often read at weddings- but maybe we should read them at each birth again for fathers and mothers . . .
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Who would have thought that watching a football award ceremony would bring to the forefront the necessity of a father’s blessing? It has reminded and instructed me to comfort the fatherless and those with gaping holes where a father’s approval might have been – with the sure knowledge that there is a Father who loves us as we are, without our striving, without recognition or fame – and in Whom redemption resides.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us / Austin Stone Worship Live . .
ps: I was mightily reminded before posting that it was while he was wearing purple that Brett Favre had his best year ever!.dd::_