What’s your name?
I don’t mean your given name. I’m asking about your real name, the name that defines that sense about yourself you most deeply believe – your identity.
Some of you go by the name “wealthy businessman,” “bread winner of the home,” or “perfectionist.” Your identity is about performance and earning your worth. Others of you have names like “failure,” “disappointment,” or “unworthy.” Your life has been shaped by the message that you don’t live up to people’s expectations.
Many men and women were given those deeper names by the same people who conferred to them their birth name: their fathers. Their dad’s approval was offered or withheld based on their performance. If they achieved, they were rewarded with affection, approval, or a pat on the back. If they failed or underachieved, they were ignored or mistreated.
I meet men and women all the time who have spent their adult lives trying to overcome the negativity their fathers ingrained into their hearts and minds. They live in the wounds their fathers left behind.
I went through plenty of that in my own life, waiting in vain for years for my dad to say, “Son, let me tell you all the things I love about you.” I yearned for him to answer all of the same questions in my life that every child has, that every man and woman needs their father to answer for them. “Dad, what do you think about me?” “Dad, do I have what it takes as a son?” “Daddy, am I beautiful enough as a daughter?”
When a father answers those questions, he infuses his child with the confidence that he or she is loved and valued, and bestows upon them names like “worthy,” “beautiful,” and “loved.” It’s the way God designed fathering to work.
But many dads struggle to connect with their children in meaningful ways because their own father never blessed them. They had no one building into their lives as men. Now, they’re fathers, and they have little to offer their children except their own brokenness.
I can relate to our guest on today’s and tomorrow’s program, Ed Tandy McGlasson, in a deeply personal way because of my own circumstances as a child. Like me, he was an orphan and longed for the blessing of his father who died before he was born. His stepdad was a tough man who was hard to please and who entrenched Ed in a driven, performance-based view of life.
Ed succeeded in making it to the NFL, but the name he carried with him to the pros wasn’t “champion” or “successful,” but “failure” and “never good enough.”
He needed a new name.
The Lord Himself gave Ed one after a knee injury Ed suffered in a college football game. He tore all three ligaments in one knee and required reconstructive surgery. A campus minister came to his hospital room and introduced Ed to Jesus. In the midst of their conversation, the minister asked to pray for Ed’s knee. The next day when Ed was taken in for X-rays the doctors discovered all three torn ligaments had reattached on their own.
From that moment forward, Ed’s name was no longer rooted in what he did, the sins of his past, or the wounds from his stepfather. His new name became “beloved son.” His identity wasn’t rooted in the pain of his story from his earthly father, but in the blessing of his heavenly Father.
Many of you feel stuck in the wounds from your father, and you can’t seem to let go of the bad memories and negative feelings. You still have a hole in your heart and struggle with bitterness for the way you’ve been treated. How does a person let that go?
For me, I felt like God, in His divine grace, neutralized some of that pain for me. I’ve never had a sense of bitterness. I hurt over my past. I’ve felt loneliness. But I believe the Lord intervened in my life almost miraculously because of what He has called me to do here at Focus in working with families. I’m grateful to my heavenly Father for that.
But however God chooses to work in this area of our lives, the power He brings to bear is real. We don’t get pixie dust, we get Christ. And when we get Christ, we get the power of the Holy Spirit and the Father who can rename every false name and father us in the way that we’ve longed for all our lives.
It’s never too late for any of us to find healing or to bring healing to our own families. God’s desire is for men to carry hope and healing into the world through their families. The highest achievement of a man is not to climb a mountain or win a Super Bowl. The highest achievement is to be a Christian husband and father who is engaged, committed, and who seeks the Lord’s grace and wisdom.
It’s never too late to become a great father, if God gets to be your father in your story.
I encourage you to tune in today and tomorrow for our programs with Ed. He’s a pastor in Southern California and speaks at conferences around the country and the world. The broadcast can be heard on your local radio station, anytime online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.