A Father’s Day Essay by Danny Peavey
We all enter the world as little boys or little girls. One day recently, my 6-year-old son walked up to me, one of my favorite small moments in life, and he was telling me something. His eyes were bright and smiley and they were looking directly at mine. He was smiling and full of life, and then, for a split second, his face turned to his right or my left. He had to show me something he was looking at.
And for a moment, maybe a couple of moments, my entire life slowed down. I was fully encapsulated into his world. I was looking at the side of his face, his left cheek, and then my eyes gradually looked up, less than half an inch, to see his eyes. The side of his eye. My eye looked at his eye which was looking at something to his left. And I immediately saw the world from his view instead of mine. I was looking at what he was looking at: the ceiling was higher. What he was discussing with me seemed instantly - bigger. And for one moment: I saw, from his perspective, how much power I had as a Father.
The choice of whether he felt fear or love, peace or panic, pride, or shame - all rested in my hands. It rested in my tone, my words, my choice, my presence, and my ability to be self-aware enough to disconnect from struggles with my ego so I could be fully present with him from my true nature.
I don’t know when or why or how we lose sight of this beautiful view. The view, or perspective, of a child. A view that I would argue is the most beautiful in life. A view that, no matter how old we get, continues to show us that we are all children. We are all sons and daughters at the core of our being.
Maybe it’s the years of commuting. The first heartbreak with a girlfriend or boyfriend. That first jerk boss. The nagging health issue. The mortgage and the bills. The pain. The difficult marriage. The loss we experience when we’re young. The weight we are trying to lose. Or maybe it’s the innocence that gets taken away when we live with a mother or father who is scary.
You can’t become a Father until you become a Son.
When I was growing up, I had a dad who was scary. I remember one moment in particular, where me and my three brothers were playing with my dad. A standard “wrestle with dad” session was in place. A classic family activity.
And for whatever reason, at some moment, I decided to "do a move" on my dad to try to get him. To pin him down. I imagine it was similar to Simba from Lion King going after Mufasa during a wrestling session in the jungle. A right-of-passage-session where son flexes his muscle to feel his power for the first time while dad engages, laughs, and giggles. Mufasa knows that this wrestling session is part of Simba’s destiny: it’s the circle of life, the beautiful cycle of Simba walking through the jungle - or the process - to move from cub to lion.
My dad was wrestling my other brother on the bed and my other OTHER brother (I have 3, ok?) jumped on his back. The goal was innately understood by all my brothers: wrestle dad to the ground.
So I did what I thought was the best move possible: kick dad in the butt! Classic kid move.
But unfortunately, my big feet went a little too far and accidentally kicked my dad in the privates.
Ouch. Any man reading this knows how much getting kicked in the balls stings. I’ve never been electrocuted but I imagine it feels the same way. Lord knows I’ve had it happen to me far too many times.
The physical pain my dad felt in that moment must’ve triggered a domino of bent up pain for him, and maybe his childhood, who knows. Maybe the frustrations of life or the job he hated. Perhaps it was the anger he had for the person that cut him off in traffic that day. Perhaps it was buried things with his father. Whatever it was, I felt the wrath of it.
In an instant, after my dad yelped from the kick to the groin, he picked me up and threw me down on the bed and against the wall. Unfortunately, the left side of the bed was up against the wall, so I couldn’t escape because his 6 foot 4 frame was hovering over me on the right side of the bed. My dad immediately whipped out his belt and proceeded to let loose. And by letting loose, I don’t mean a spanking on my butt. This was a “go all out” whipping. Wherever the belt landed was where it landed. But it felt like he was letting loose of more than the belt.
He let loose his frustrations, fears, panics, dissatisfactions - all of it - he used that session to whip his son into oblivion to get the therapy he needed. The therapy we all need in life, hopefully not exercised in this way.
I vaguely remember my mom pleading with him to stop in the distance while it was going on. I was trying to cover my face and my own private parts with all my might. Dodging and ducking. Outside of the physical pain, most of what I felt was his rage. In fact, all I could feel was his rage. I felt the rage in his lashes and I heard the rage in his voice. There was something extremely visceral about this instance that felt different than the other “spankings.” Almost like the voice raging inside of him was yelling at him to hit harder. To hit faster. To punish. To extinguish. To defeat. To destroy.
You can’t become a Father until you become a Son.
As a 39-year-old man looking back, I’m sure each swing of the belt to my dad represented:
But one thing remained after the beating: an incredibly scared and confused little boy. And by little boy, I don’t mean me. I mean my dad.
Fathers have incredible power. You can’t become a Father until you become a Son.
At some point, a man must face his demons and fears. He must develop the courage to kill the Goliath’s in his life because if he doesn’t, he is going to remain a scared little boy who raises other scared little boys.
When I was 27, I read the Song of Solomon which is a short book in the Bible. The story is simple: it’s about a man and a woman. The man represents Jesus and the woman represents the bride, or in other words, us. Yes, men, we are represented as “the bride.” I promise it gets cooler.
In Chapter 1, the woman says, “I am dark but lovely” which isn’t necessarily meant to represent her race, rather, her view of herself. When she looked at herself with her own eyes, she saw bad things: self-hatred, shame, fear, disappointment, the job she hated, the life she hated, her problems, her issues, all of it.
The man in the book comes along and does one thing: He tells her how beautiful she is. The way he does this is multifaceted: First, He pursues her. And as he does, He doesn’t say you’re wrong, He doesn’t try to correct her, He doesn’t try to punish her into oblivion, He doesn’t take what she says as jealousy or rejection. He chooses to use His power - the power that created the entire world - to restrain, in grace, and say:
My love, my beloved: You are beautiful.
He spends the entire book chasing her with one goal in mind: to tell her how much He loves her - even as she disobeys. Even as she can’t see it across dozens of instances. Even as she runs away. Even as she does bad things. Even as she reacts from a bad place.
He speaks his undying love for everything that she is. Everything that she cannot see.
In essence, He says:
You are beautiful. You are holy. You are lovely. You are enough. You are splendid. You are worth pursuing. I’m not mad at you. I’m not angry with you. I’m not upset at you. I’m not disappointed in you. I’m not ashamed of you. You’re not a bother to me. You’re not a waste of time to me. You’re not a burden to me. You are my joy. You are the apple of my eye. You are my one true love. You are holy. You are redeemed. I love to wrestle with you. I love to play with you. I love to be with you. You are the one I die for. You are the one I cherish. You are the one I wake up for. You are the one I look for. I love you little Simba. You are the one I need. You are the one I love. I refuse to let fear win. I refuse to let depression win. I refuse to let anxiety win. I refuse to let the gnashing of the teeth win. I refuse to let the darkness of my soul win. I refuse to punish you. I’m sorry for taking that out on you. I choose to give. I choose to get nothing in return. I choose to fight for us. I choose to protect you. I choose to lay down my life for you. I choose to love you. I choose you because You are mine and I am yours.
At that moment at 27 years old, with tears streaming down my face, I immediately became a Son of the Most High God.
Don’t get me wrong: I said the prayer at 6 and had another beautiful moment at 19, but at that moment, that specific moment, I became a Son.
My entire life changed with only a glimpse, a taste, a morsel, a smidgen.
Of love from my Father.
After years of going to churches. Years of living with “Christian parents.” Years of suffering the emotional and mental torture of living in the toxicity of a broken family. One that refused to accept or acknowledge. Because no men in my family had the courage to face and defeat the Goliaths of their souls. To choose to spiritually die so future children can live.
And be free.
And even though I didn’t have a child at the time, I also immediately became a Father.
And as a 39-year-old writing this essay on Father’s Day in 2020, I would argue, that at 27 years old, I become more of a Father at that moment than my 53-year-old dad ever was to me.
Fathers don’t have age restrictions or limits. And being a Father doesn’t mean you have children.
And you can’t become a Father until you become a Son.
Facing your demons is hard work regardless if you are a man or woman. It’s relentless. It’s exhausting. It’s tiresome. It can seem hopeless. It’s incredibly grueling. It’s mean. It’s confusing. And it’s tempting to give up and to soothe yourself in whatever way you like to do so.
For me, the soothing was more inward (self hatred, shame, perfectionism, hating myself) than outward (alcohol, drugs, multiple women, etc.)
You can’t become a Father unless you become a Son.
Men, you already know that you are going to have to fight. You’re going to fight to compete, to make money, to pursue the girl, to overcome unfairness, to push through the pain, to become whatever you want to be.
But, men, this fight, the fight that I am writing about in this essay, is the fight of the century. It’s the fight for your life. It’s Rocky versus Drago. It’s David versus Goliath. It isn’t Simba versus Mufasa. It isn’t dad versus mom. It isn’t an employee versus a boss. It isn’t the people versus the President. And it isn’t a country versus country.
It’s the fight for your bloodline. It’s the fight for your destiny. It’s the fight for your children. It’s the fight to rescue the little boy inside of you. It’s the fight for all the marbles. It’s THE fight worth fighting for. In fact, it’s the only fight worth fighting for.
It’s the fight with yourself to face your demons, wrestle them to the ground, pin them down, and knock them out. It’s the fires of your family’s bloodline that keeps raging and engulfing and burning everyone and everything up around you. For generation after generation.
It’s the hard work of the soul.
And there’s only one weapon, a lethal weapon, that you must be introduced to so you can learn more about it, sit with it, and master it.
And the weapon is simple but profound.
The weapon is your identity.
You must - MUST - get a glimpse, just a glimpse, of how Jesus sees you. How He looks at you. How he’s undone by when you look at Him. How he gushes at your emotions which are neither good nor bad. How he relishes in your success. How he’s overcome with admiration as you try new things. How his heart breaks when you experience pain. How eager He is to hear your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. How excited He is about your every day - watching you go on your journey. Your journey from toddler to child to man.
Only in this moment will you become a son. Only in this moment will you become a Father.
You will instantly feel the radiance, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds to instantly warm your entire body, of the love from a Father.
And then, you will see, in an instant, how your real-life son or daughter is a reflection of the son (or daughter if you are reading this ladies) you are to your heavenly, loving Father.
So when your son does something wrong, you’ll remember when you do something wrong in your day to day, and How your Father forgives you. That he doesn’t yell or beat you, but rather listens and embraces you.
When your son runs away or does something you don’t understand, you won’t take it as rejection from your ego, rather, you’ll understand what it’s like to run away from scary things. You’ll realize each of was created differently and your son is no exception.
When your son gets angry, you won’t use it as an opportunity to control, attack, or react from fear, but rather to trust him from love and give him space, knowing that when you get angry that you need space too. And your Father gives it.
When your son flexes his muscles, you won’t use it as an opportunity to go toe to toe, crush your baby cub, and rip off his claws, the exact claws or strength he needs to face this world. You’ll use it as an opportunity to cultivate the strength of your young cub, to sharpen his strengths, with the intent of helping him go from a wild cub to the King of his jungle.
When your son succeeds, you won’t look at it with envy or jealously or as a reminder that you failed, rather, you’ll expect him to rise above your success. And when he does, you cheer it on and support it. You know that your son’s story is his, not yours.
You’ll realize that you aren’t a dad that “has to get up and go to a job because you have to raise kids,” rather, you are a Father who chooses to love and give every day, without resentment, in order to raise a future King. You’re a Father who has been given the privilege to steward one of the most precious gifts from heaven, a boy, a young prince, and you get to guide him into everything He was meant to be.
What a gift.
You’ll even realize that the hard work of the soul, the battle scars, the training, the sufferings you are experiencing to stop the gnashing of the teeth, the attacks on your soul, the fires raging within, in order to extinguish them and to finally kill Goliath, isn’t “the fault” of your son, rather, the mission and duty you’ve been given as a Son of the Most High.
Most of this training will be on a battleground of one. And it’ll be done behind closed doors.
And you will take that mission seriously. You will realize and come to grips with your power. You will control your power. You will control your tongue. You will control your reactions. You will see the bad boss, the hard life, the pain, the mortgage, the bills, the hurt, the bad day, the kick to the groin, the person who cut you off in traffic —
You will see it all through the eyes of your son. Those beautiful, pure, and innocent eyes. The ones you still have. The ones your son has. And you will instantly be transported to the day you met your Father. The day you were overcome with love. The day all the hurt and all the pain and all the trauma of your little boy’s heart was instantly taken away because of the love from a Father who gave it all.
And you will move from a dad to a Father.
You will become a true Father to your son.
You will love, hug, kiss, smile, laugh, and light up every time you see him. Because you know that’s what your Father does with you.
You will ask him to sit down at the table with you, the table that has the most glorious food on the planet on it, the most delicious food, the spoils from war. The war that you fought and successfully overcome. Each piece of food will represent a battle that you chose to overcome. You won’t need to explain, you won’t need to discipline, you won’t need to correct. All you’ll need to do is say to your little boy, who is sitting and snuggled up next to you:
Eat, my boy! See and taste that the Lord is good!
Then after you eat, you guys will wrestle, laugh, play. And your son might accidentally kick you in the balls, and you will feel pain. And you will instantly know that your son’s eyes are looking up at you, waiting, in eager anticipation of your reaction. He’s feeling scared and worried.
And you’ll say, “NICE KICK,” laugh with your son, then go to bed, lol.
Day after day after day after day.
And you will ultimately know that when you hug your son as he goes to bed that night, that you are victorious. You won. And because you won, your son will also win. When he gets older and fights his battles, he will win. And so will generation after generation.
Fathers change the world. And you can’t become one until you become a Son.
And once you do, you know that in some small way, you are loving the little boy inside of you.
To any man reading this feeling the weight of glory, the weight of a beautiful, loving Father calling you to know Him more deeply: please answer the call. It will melt away the pain, dissolve all the hurt, and give you a bedrock of peace you’ve only been dreaming about.
I pray and wish you become the son you were always meant to be.
Happy Father’s Day
With all my love,
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