By Shawn Dean

“Nobody loves me but my Mama and she might be jivin’ too.” – BB King.

The deepest scars are the ones inflicted by the people in your life that are supposed to love you the most. When a life is molded, the hands guilty of the most noticeably marked impressions are those of the mama and daddy.  The darkest corners of our hearts, the tender hidden places that erupt when touched are there by way of parental influence.

The internal unresolved pain that produces the external destruction can almost unanimously find itself linked to the “did” or thedid not of the father and mother. The women and men I know with the deepest of spiritual depravity and troubled history of addiction and self-destruction, have as their accomplice a father or mother who abused or neglected them.

In our culture of “do as I say and not as I do,” the expectation falls on the child to behave as one while the adult vacates his post and returns to childish things. This is the fashion in which I was raised and one I wholeheartedly desire not to repeat, because the pain is real and diabolically linked to my poor behavior in certain situations.

When I found Jesus (or when He found me), He planted the story of the Prodigal Son in my heart. When I was only a son and not a father, it spoke to me as a son. Now, as a father, it speaks to me both ways equally.  I know the son’s rebellion and repentance. I feel the father’s heart as he rushes to get his transformed son.

There’s yet another message I read as it applies to the parent/child relationship dynamic. A son can’t be a son until a father decides to be father—first. I can’t be a son to Jesus unless He first adopts me as His son, and if He ever decided to stop being my Father, I’d, by deductive reasoning, be relieved of my duty as son. And vice versa, even though a mother may have a son, if the son stops being a son, who will she be mother to?

The intent of Fatherhood or Motherhood goes way beyond the giving of birth and so proven by the love given by those that adopt. And, when weighed relative to those that birth but abandon their duties, their title deserves to be forfeited. In plain southern English, “don’t call yourself mama or daddy if ya ain’t one.”

What I see in my life and in the life of others around me is story after story of fathers and mothers who weren’t, leaving the children to pick up the pieces and learn to be parents without a good example to go by. Broken homes abound. I hear confusion and doubt in the voices of teenagers who recognize the hypocrisy in their parent’s Sunday-morning-only Christianity. Their parents are home but they’re not home, present but not present. We used to visit nursing homes as a ministry opportunity, but the sadness and loneliness was overwhelming—a testimony to that torn relationship whose clock never stopped.

Then I see Jesus, in the form of the father of the prodigal son, who forgets the past when presented with repentance and moves on to the hopeful future where relationship truly exists. A father with his son back or a son with his father back, either way, is a beautiful thing. Reconciliation is a runaway train on the tracks that lead to worship. It’s healing. It’s beautiful. It’s Jesus—and only Jesus.

If you sit there today, father or son, mother or daughter or any combination of the two, don’t give up hope in what He can and wants to do. I’m a transformed son from that same broken home who reconciled with his transformed father before he died. I’ve waited many years to have a mother again, and she appears to be on the threshold of wanting to be one again, and I, likewise, would like to be a son again. And, if you believe that uncomfortable, transparent honesty with a dash of love is a good recipe for relationship, you’re right.