Dads hurt too

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I was waiting in a Chicago airport lounge for my flight to Toronto to open. I chose a seat to “people-­watch” as I waited—it’s a pastime that usually serves well in whittling away time, and often provides considerable amusement. But, on this occasion, I noticed a handsome young man in his early 30s talking on his mobile phone, pacing up and down and getting more and more agitated. I began to feel uneasy as I watched and told myself it was none of my business—look away.

But my concern for him did not dissipate—I had a strong sense that I should do something to help, but what? As he paced, I noticed him becoming more heated and his manner become more desperate—even to the point of almost throwing his phone! I listened in alarm as he waved his arms, gesturing his frustration and protesting, “Why should the grandparents have all the say?” and with choking breath—almost a sob, “But he is my son, too!”

Sadly, the body language of this desperate young man was an all-too-familiar scene—our son had experienced the frustration and gut-wrenching sadness over a number of years of having his sons taken away from him. So, try as I might, I could not shake my concern and empathy. Again, I reasoned with my inner self that this wasn’t my business, but my sense that I was being prompted to intervene was becoming irresistible. Suddenly I felt myself propelled across the thorough­fare to where the young man had paused to write a text message. “Hello, I can see you’re very distressed,” I said. “Can I give you a hug?” His reply was instantaneous: “Oh yes please!”

We embraced and he hung on. The poor guy was hot and sweaty and very distressed emotionally. I listened to his sorry plight—he was being denied access to his precious five-year-old son. He couldn’t understand it. He had known the mother of his son since Year 8, and now it all seemed to be falling apart. I listened, not asking the circumstances of their relationship. He looked at me, his eyes bright with tears and full of pain, “I’m a good dad and love my son so much.” It really undid me to experience his pain. We cried together.

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I asked if I could pray for him—was it another prompting from my heavenly Father? The young man readily agreed and told me his name. So I prayed a simple prayer for Scott, his precious son and his situation, asking God to resolve the impasse amicably and to give Scott a measure of God’s love and the ability to be patient and wise through the difficult time he was experiencing.

He told me he had listened to an audio recording of a church service that morning on his way to the airport, and now when he needed it, I’d asked him if he needed a hug and prayed with him. “I don’t know what I might have done without this intervention,” he told me.

Scott looked down at his watch and said, “I really must hurry to catch my plane, but thank you so much for approaching me, a stranger, to offer a hug.” He hugged me again and I hugged him like my son, both with tears in our eyes. As he began to rush off he quickly turned and asked, “How did you know I needed a hug?”

“I have a son like you who has gone through something similar,” I replied. Inside I was saying to myself, God told me! My mother-heart ached for him and still does, but I continue to pray that God will keep Scott in His care, and reunite him with his precious son.

So often opportunities come our way to say a kind word, give a hug or speak about God’s love. Do we listen to those nudges or shrug them off, saying, “It’s none of my business”? We never know where God will use us if we open our hearts to His promptings. Give it a go, I’m sure glad I did.


Lyn Medhurst is an active grandmother who lives in Bonnells Bay, Australia.

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