DAD, PIZZA, AND THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

(By Thor Knutstad)

When I was maybe like 14, my mom and my sister were away for the weekend at a Christian women's conference or church event. It was just me and my dad. That Saturday evening, Dad rounded me up and we went for pizza downtime. When we walked in to the back room to be seated, to my shame and embarrassment, most of my closest friends were gathered for a birthday party - that I wasn't invited to. When we sat down in the booth, I wanted to crawl under the seat. I felt rejected and could feel the staring eyes of disapproval from my classmates. They felt bad too - maybe worse. I wanted to run and hide. I felt exposed. But my Dad made me stay. He sensed my shame and said "Honey Boy (that was his term of affection for me through my life), sometimes people won't include you and will not invite you. When you are young, it hurts. You feel ashamed that they didn't invite you to the party, but they feel worse." Then he reached across the table and gently squeezed my hand - in a firm but tender and manly way. He opened his wallet and said to me, "Here" and handed me a $20 bill. "Here's enough for you to share with all of them - go play video games with them and include them even though they haven't done that for you." A few of my friends joined me, talked with us, and we even left them extra pizza (I never understood till now why my Dad bought two pizzas but now I do). This is a simple story with a deep, complex meaning. My father used creativity and wisdom to compensate for and alleviate my pain of wanting approval and fears of rejection. He rose above a situation with encouragement and quick thinking that rescued his young son's fragile, developing heart. (I just teared my way through this reading this to my Gram and to Jordan before). I think those moments prepared me for greater rejections - and for walking wisely in tough situations - and made and make a little more like Jesus. Teach your sons well fathers - life is more than hard work and education and survival. Your life is Christ. Be that to your sons.