A few years ago, there was a movie that spoke volumes to me. It was The Tree of Life, written and directed by Terrence Malick. This unconventional film challenged moviegoers and me to stretch our minds and souls as we follow a Texan family in the 1950’s family through their lives. Jack O’Brien is the joy of his mother and his father. The movie focuses on Jack’s perspective and his relationships with his father, mother, and brother. The story’s central theme is how Jack tries to process and struggles to understand the dynamics between his father’s controlling nature and his mother’s nurturing qualities. However, what impacted me the most was Jack’s relationship with his father.
Throughout the movie, we get glimpses of Jack’s rigid and domineering father constantly criticizing Jack. There are scenes where he loses his temper, belittles Jack, and is often distant and removed from him. Later, we catch a glimpse of how this impacts Jack when, as a boy, there is a time he vows to kill his father, but when he has a chance while his father is underneath the car, he doesn’t act. Despite all this, there is a moment when Jack realizes he is more like his father than his mother. This realization saddens him because of the great value he places on his mother’s seemingly opposite qualities. However, he also recalls witnessing his father’s vulnerabilities and glimpses of showing love and contemplates the complexness of trying to understand his father.
This movie is a reminder of how much influence a father or father figure can have on a child’s life. Unfortunately, today, many men have been negatively impacted by growing up without a solid and healthy father figure. Many of us grew up with fathers who showed love to us through hard work, discipline, toughness, or any other way but emotionally. For others, fathers were not even in the picture. Yet others can attest to having great relationships with their fathers. All this to say, none of us will ever be perfect—our role as fathers is challenging as we will have our moments of victories and failures. Many times we may be unsure of what we’re doing.
However, take comfort in knowing that we all have a Father in heaven is that is the perfect model for us. He will never leave us, forsake us or let us down. On the contrary, he loves and empowers us to be the fathers he is to us, for others. For this reason, he’s more than a father; he’s a dad. Take time today to be a dad to your kids and show them God’s love through you.
Answer and Journal the Following
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Pray and ask God to help you be the dad he wants you to be.
The word “abba” means “daddy” in Aramaic and was the word that Jesus used when he modeled prayer for us. What does this mean for you in how do you address God in your prayers?
Bonus: Share this with a fellow brother.