“I’m sorry to intrude, but I needed to talk with someone and you guys seemed like the logical choice,” Ryan said as he stood and accepted the cup of tea Maddie had prepared in response to his phone call half an hour earlier.
“So what’s up?” Kyle asked and pushed a plate of cookies to Ryan’s end of the coffee table.
“Well, you know how rough the divorce was on all parties. Stacy has custody; I get the weekends and an hour of visiting on Wednesday evening. I’m sure talk of how tense those Wednesdays have been has filtered through the grapevine at school and even made it beyond the confines of the Middle School. You know how those lunch ladies love to talk.”
“Yes, there are some folks in the High School who are concerned about you and we’re unsure of what we can do to help. In fact there’s an ongoing debate over whether or not making a move to get involved is wise, but for myself, if there’s anything you need, just say the word.”
“For right now, I appreciate you just letting me talk. This past Wednesday when I opened my car door, I heard Kevin screaming in the back yard. I, of course, panicked. I broke the agreed-upon protocol of ringing the doorbell to announce myself and ran to the back of the house. When I got to the back door I saw Stacy in the kitchen giving first aid to a badly scraped knee. There had been an incident with a bicycle out on the sidewalk five minutes earlier and Kevin had screamed in response to Stacy’s announcement that she needed to pour peroxide on the scrapes.”
Kyle and Maddie both breathed inward sighs of relief and smiled, having lived through similar melodramatic moments with their own daughter. But knowing that such an episode carried only a brief pain for the parent, it was clear from the look on Ryan’s face that there was more to this story.
“Once the tears were in check and Kevin had calmed down, I tried to discuss the incident with him. But I couldn’t get him to respond in any meaningful way. It was as though he didn’t want me to be involved. And yes, I can understand a certain amount of resentment over my not being around when it happened to offer comfort right then and there, but his coldness really bothered me. It was simply out of character to not want me to console him.”
They read the confused emotions playing across Ryan’s face and instinctively moved closer as he spoke.
“So I made the offer I always made when nothing else seemed to work and said ‘Come give Daddy a hug’, stretched out my arms and waited for him to come. But he didn’t come. In fact he crossed his arms, scowled at me, and said point blank in a tone I wasn’t expecting to hear until he was a teenager, ‘No.’.”
“Any chance this is part of some head game Stacy is playing?” Maddie wondered.
“I don’t think so, and not just because I would hate to think that she would use our child in that manner. I watched her reaction and she seemed genuinely surprised. Who knows, maybe she’s a better actress than I give her credit for being, but I think this was a spontaneous reaction on Kevin’s part. And the fact that it came so effortlessly was what made it hurt the most. Then I started thinking. This God that you guys are always referencing. I’ve heard you refer to Him in fatherly terms which made me wonder if He might understand this situation, so I was hoping you would remember me when you talk to Him.”
As they shared a sideways glance, they mouthed the word “wow” to each other.
“I think He understands the situation better than you could possibly imagine. He created us to fellowship with Him, we turned our back on that, did things our own way, and then took to blaming God when things didn’t go as expected. Does that sound familiar? I think God might have used your son to show you how He feels when humanity rejects His love and salvation. We will of course remember your family in prayer, but since you seem to already have something in common with God, maybe you should try speaking with Him yourself.”
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