“You always hurt the one you love,” the old song goes, and it’s sadly true.
The moments will come when you hurt your kids. You’ll say something you shouldn’t have. You’ll do something that embarrasses them. You’ll break a promise.
None of us are perfect. And even when we say we’re sorry and admit our faults, we can’t erase what happened.
Our kids can hurt us too, sometimes accidentally and sometimes on purpose. They can lie. They can scream insults. They can slam doors or smash things or even hit us. And when they get older, sometimes the hurts can grow far worse. They can rebel. They can reject everything we tried to teach them. They can get into drugs or alcohol or promiscuity, and we’ll feel powerless to help or protect them.
When we look at the Bible, we see a depressing number of hurting families and grieving fathers. How grieved would Isaac feel when he learned that Jacob had tricked him and stolen his brother’s birthright? How many nights did the father of the prodigal son wonder, with a heavy heart, whether his boy was safe or even alive? I think about David grieving over his rebellious son, Absalom, after his boy died. “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!” he cried over and over (2 Samuel 18:33).
I wonder: Did he grieve much less when Absalom forced his own father out of Jerusalem? Wouldn’t every father grieve?
This all brings us back to the importance of making moments with our children. These moments serve so many purposes. They’re memories to cherish. They’re teaching opportunities. They’re fun. But most importantly, they’re monuments that father and child alike can hold on to, monuments to your love and reminders of those bonds of affection that tie father and child together and keep them forever connected.
We can’t forget that, whatever the hurt or the wound, love really does conquer all. Love is irresistible, irrefutable, undeniable. Nothing rises to it. The dark side of our character has no weapon against it. It’s our trump card, and I think it’s the only one we have in the deck. Love is the key. That tether of love is the key to everything.
The tether of love, if you have rebellious children, becomes paramount to your relationship. Your kids can irritate you, frustrate you, and drive you to stop talking to them. That tether can fray, and fray badly, in the heat of anger, hurt, and heartache. But you can’t allow those frustrations to overwhelm your love. You must hold on to those moments you’ve built.
You have to hang on to that tether, even if it’s just a thread.
Because when your rebellious son or daughter turns twenty or twenty-five or thirty, they may remember those moments and long to see you and hear your voice and maybe even say they’re sorry. If that thread exists, they can find it and follow it back to you.
They know that, despite how much they hurt you and disappointed you and damaged their relationship with you, the thread of love continues to exist. They see it. They know the tether has never completely snapped. And then the two of you can begin to make some new moments, some new threads, to strengthen that bond once again.