Hug Ambassador

Dearest Rachel –

You would be proud of him, honey; he really is your boy at times like these.

When we were at Bible study on Wednesday night, Pastor Joel was using his recent vacation to illustrate a point or two – not sure specifically as to when and what it was, probably that last section in Colossians 3 about how family members are to behave toward one another (more on that another time). To hear him tell it, there were parts of his trip that couldn’t have gone more wrong if his last name was Murphy (although I will also add that there are times when I suspect that, had he not gone into ministry, he would have been equally satisfied to make stand-up comedy his career), including a three-hour flight that turned into an eight-hour long diversion, and being led by Siri to a highway that was closed and guarded by a heavy police presence – and getting into further trouble by missing the exit to get off said highway.

Just as his story was reaching a crescendo of frustration – why would a child be throwing a tantrum on their way into the Magic Kingdom, the alleged Happiest Place on Earth™? – Daniel got up from his seat, and hugged him. Somehow, it defused the situation.

Now, had Joel been an actual stand-up comic, that would probably have ruined the punchline, and security would have likely escorted Daniel (and I, being with him) out rather firmly, if not roughly (after all, it was clear that he posed no threat to Joel in having done what he did). However, this wasn’t a comedy routine, this was real life, and I’d say that Daniel did the right thing. It’s the sort of thing you would have done – although you might have waited until after the study was over, but still… my point stands.

I probably should have told Daniel so afterwards, both that it had been the right things to do, and that you would not only have approved, but done likewise. I’m not sure why I didn’t – maybe I assumed he already knew it was the right thing to do (after all, why would he have done so otherwise?), maybe it would have embarrassed him for me to make a deal out of it, maybe I didn’t bother to give it much thought afterwards at all. I may have patted him on the arm as we left, and after Joel thanked him for it.

People at church have mentioned to me that being hugged by Daniel is a special experience. Maybe, because I’m his father, and I’m accustomed to being bid goodnight by him in such a manner, I can’t relate to that. Familiarity may not so much breed contempt as it might eliminate any perception of something being unique and special.

In a way, it’s much like the hugs you used to give to others. It was Pastor Joel who also described being hugged by you as being “like if Mr. Rogers gave you a hug.” Whereas to me, it was just that casual affection that existed between me and you, those hugs were a way for you to be an ambassador to others for yourself, for the church, and for Jesus Himself. I think it would please you to know that your son is carrying on your ministry, even if it is in his own, very limited way.

Heck, it may just be something that makes them that much more special, due to their relative rarity. If you can, honey, keep at his side, and encourage him in this mission going forward. For my own part, I’m hard-pressed to do so, because I rarely ever see the need like he does – he has your empathy, it would seem, which doesn’t exist much in me.

Anyway, keep an eye on him, and wish him luck – he needs it, every bit as much as I.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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