Wedding toasts are normally awkward, funny, or moving. If you can avoid the first and combine the second two, you're doing something right. I went to a wedding recently, and was deeply moved by a simple acknowledgement from a father to a son.
"Son, I have never been disappointed in you, and I am so proud of you."
Maybe it was just me, but it felt like something shifted in the atmosphere of the room. I'm pretty sure every male there at least had a tear creeping at the edge of their eyes. It was a beautiful moment none of us will forget.
There is no simple father-son relationship. Even the good ones are still complex.
Richard Rohr spoke in an interview about time he spent ministering to men in prison. He said in almost every case, the men there either didn't have a relationship with their father or they had a bad one.
He recounted how grown men would break down and weep, explaining to Richard that it was the first time they ever felt loved or affirmed by another man. Richard referred to the term as father hunger.
I believe the majority of the crime, scandalous politics, oppression, and abuse in this world stems from the problem of growing up in an environment where someone doesn't feel loved, affirmed, encouraged, praised.
And just to be clear, I know great men (and women) who grew up without dads. I'm not saying it's impossible to become a healthy person without a father. I do firmly believe it's much harder, though.
Can you imagine a world where everyone grew up with affirmations like, "I have never been disappointed in you, I am so proud of you...I see you for who you're becoming, not the mistakes you've made."
It would look drastically different. Our prisons would be less occupied, abuse within the home less common, insecurity not as prevalent, manipulation and control barely present...
I love the quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." In this context I read it as, "Speak kindly, for everyone you meet has a deep need to be affirmed and encouraged."
I want to speak to people as if they've never heard an affirming word, to offer encouragement they might never get otherwise, and be a part of ending this hunger that's causing so much of the dysfunction we see in our world.