A Father's Vulnerability
／Evelyn O. Shih
Many years ago, a church member came to see us and announced, in a sobbing voice, "I have become an orphan."
What is this nonsense? How could a middle-aged man become an orphan? This man went on to say that he had just received news that his mother had died in China. I was not sure if there is an age limit on becoming an orphan, but I felt sure a man who had children of his own shouldn't be called an orphan.
As this man talked, I thought about how I was only 12 years old when I lost my mother and a year after that I began living a refugee's life with a girls' school. This experience gave me such an independent character that I had trouble sympathizing with someone this old who cried for his mommy.
While my husband comforted the man that day, I grumbled in my heart: "You should be grateful that your mother had lived so long. Grow up, man!"
I continued to think to myself how it seems that man is more vulnerable than woman. That's why, after God created Adam, He created Eve to help him. Adam needed a helpmate, a person whom he could lean on and with whom he could discuss things, even blame for when he did wrong. For example, this crying church member had not seen his mother for a long time, yet he still leaned on her in his mind. Now, with his mother dead, he believed he was left alone with no one to lean on.
Man also has another problem. He cannot show his emotion freely. Men are supposed to be strong, although they are often weak inside. In Proverbs 31, a virtuous woman mentioned says, "her husband leans on her in his heart". (Chinese translation) The husband is too proud to admit that he needs his wife in everything. She, being a virtuous woman, does not force him to admit his dependence publicly. Furthermore, she does not brag about his dependence to her friends and relatives.
As I thought about these things, I began to sympathize with this church member, because he had revealed his true self to us. He openly admitted that he was not a strong husband or a dominant father. This man needed love and support, just like a young orphaned boy. I felt sure that after his grieving period had ended, he would be a more loving husband and father.
I have realized, since this incident, that earthly fathers cannot be compared with our Heavenly Father. They are just as vulnerable as the rest of us. Therefore, our fidelity toward them should contain understanding, consideration and sympathetic compassion.