Two days in a row we watched two similar films that had the same sad undercurrent – a young man desperate for a sign of validation and pleasure from his Dad.
In the first movie (Into the Wild), Christopher Mccandless did everything he could to live the exact opposite of his pretentious, money-driven father. Sadly he ultimately starved to death in the Alaskan wilderness trying to prove he can survive without anything or anyone. In the second movie (The Great Alone), another young man, Lance Makey, “mushed” in his famous father’s footsteps instead, nearly killing himself again and again in the Iditarod race. And also like his father, did so at the expense of having intimate relationships.
Sadly, it was only after coming in 1st place, did Lance receive the desired embrace of his father and hear the words he longed to hear his entire life, “Son, I’m proud of you.”
I think everyone has had, or still has if they admit it, a need to be “seen,” understood, and accepted by parents in varying degrees. It’s a need everyone is born with. When lacking, there is a consequent struggle to feel at peace inside, bringing some to perform for acceptance, or to anti-perform, such as doing things to be different or to get attention. Many adults are hindered from reaching their ultimate potential because they are still subconsciously acting out of this need.
Jesus got it early!
As I was meditating on these two movies, it struck me. When Jesus went to be baptized by John, His heavenly Father gave what every young man (who looks up to his dad) longs for. In a loud voice He proudly announced, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
But what makes this really remarkable is that Jesus did not start his public ministry yet! He was not teaching, healing the sick, or making converts. He was simply “being.” Like Abraham who was said to be justified by faith before circumcision, so Jesus is acknowledged for who he was as a person before he publicly did the works that his Father did.
Jesus’ heart was “seen,” and his Father was proud of who he saw.
I believe that the confidence that Jesus received, passed on by the most important person in his life, was a great gift that empowered Jesus to mature into his fulness. With this blessing Jesus was able to begin his ministry, not to please his Father, but because he was already pleased! Knowing he was “working with a net” also gave him, I’m sure, the needed strength to resist the severe temptations that came upon him soon after in the wilderness.
There’s a lot to be said here, on many levels. It’s been giving me a lot of food for thought!
Luke 18:29-30 No one who has had to leave their … mother and father … for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times more of these in this life …
6 thoughts on “Longing to Belong”
I love this post so much!! Thanks for sharing this Pam. Unfortunately, I think as a parent I am probably guilty (like the Lance’s father) of waiting for some kind of an accomplishment to say, “I am so proud of you” to my son. Of course, not intentionally. You are so right, God did not wait for Jesus to start his ministry validate him as a beloved son. I once heard a wise person say, we need just as much “affirmation” as we do “information,” Knowledge of God’s love for us is good, but sharing and affirming one another with that love is great! Thanks again for a beautiful post! Ana
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Super great to hear from you Ana, and I think I know who that “wise person” is that you are talking about. ;-) I was certainly thinking of him in this post, and the Father’s heart he carried. Love you muchly!
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I, like these men, waited all my life for my own father to validate me as a man, yet there was no “right of passage” coming from him no matter what i accomplished. The funny thing was that after he died, a guy that was a friend in my adolescence who also knew my father, told me that he had visited my father before he died in 1972 and he told my friend how proud he was of me. My friend shared this with me because he felt that my father never told me this in person. He was right.
One thing that has come out of this, though. I can now see why Jesus said, “Call no man father, for only ONE is your Father and He is in heaven.” Only our loving heavenly Father can validate us as we need it. All other fathers will fall short.
Thanks for sharing this, Pamela.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Michael. It’s all too common one unfortunately. Yes, now our world is affected by the breaking in of the Kingdom of God. Your words ring true. Our eternal, heavenly identity is not in flesh and blood anymore (thus, “call no man father, to the Jews, was unheard of), but isin the Spirit. This leads to an even more richer subject, of the family of God, and how we empower one another through His Spirit. But it all felt like too much for one post.
Correction to my previous post: my father died in 1994.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Michael. It’s all too common one unfortunately. Yes, now our world is affected by the breaking in of the Kingdom of God. Your words ring true. Our eternal, heavenly identity is not in flesh and blood anymore (thus, “call no man father, to the Jews, was unheard of), but is in the Spirit. This leads to an even more richer subject, of the family of God, and how we empower one another through His Spirit. But it all felt like too much for one post.
Love you, Pamela