Friday I’m sitting in the back of Starbucks with my Bible and study books laid out before me when a dad in a dark business suit walks in with his teenage son before work and school.
Dad just has coffee.
Son sits down with most everything edible on the menu – the meal of a growing guy who’s already taller than his father. Instead of coffee, he sips from a juice box – the one hint that there is still a little boy hiding inside this gangly boy/man.
Father and son are awkwardly silent. Eyes glance anywhere but at each other. It’s painful to watch. I can almost hear their minds spinning, searching for common ground…anything to talk about in this season when a head of red hair seems to be the only thing they share.
What if I say something stupid?
What if he sees my weakness?
After a few seconds Dad gets up with his coffee and walks out into the hall, leaving son behind without saying anything. Is he looking for a bathroom? Making a call? Can he just not stand the deafening silence?
Teenage Opie sits alone, eating his breakfast. Curiously, I notice that he doesn’t pull out a smartphone to distract or entertain himself. He just eats, looking lonely. And I wonder what’s going through his mind. What is he thinking about his dad?
Does he know God? What might this relationship be teaching him about his heavenly Father?
“I will never leave or forsake you.”
“Nothing can separate us from the love of God…”
“Come to me…”
The dad never comes back, and when finished eating, the son wanders into the hall looking for him.
What if Dad had said, “This is a hard season for both of us. I want to be a good dad, but I’m unsure of myself. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, but I care. I want to listen to what’s important to you. I’m for you. Nothing can make me love you less than I do right now.”
Saturday I was at the same table when a young mom comes in with her 4-year-old daughter, large cheery pink bow in her hair and a smile to match.
Although in an easier season, like Dad and son, this mom and daughter have a chasm of years and experience between them.
But Mom never once pulls out a cell phone. She looks her daughter in the eye and asks questions and chats about everything important to a toddler.
What is that little girl learning about her heavenly Parent?
When we are present, when we lean in, when create safe places, we reflect the image of our Heavenly Father.