Hello! My name is Dan Jacobs. Well actually my full name is Jon Daniel Jacobs, but I have never been called Jon (my parents said I never felt like a Jon), I haven’t been Daniel since 6th grade and I only allow my aunts who haven’t seen me since 1985 to call me “Danny”.
I am the husband to a smoking-hot and amazingly kind woman, Deanne, and 4 very energetic sons. I have been honored with the opportunity to share an experience that is very special to me for the “Sunday Sunshine” portion of the blog. It is probable that, occasionally, my posts may find their way onto this fantastic forum in the future.
I wasn’t a punk-kid growing up, but I was a teenager once, so you might just as easily say I was a punk-kid growing up. Around the age of 12 I got tall. Really, really tall for 12. Like nearly 6 feet tall. I also thought I was pretty clever and funny. In addition to my new-found height and humor I also fancied myself pretty smart for my age. 12 seemed to be the age when I imagined it would be a good time to push my boundaries. Flex some of my new-found (thanks puberty!)muscle around the house. Show my old man who was the new cock-of-the-walk. Tensions between us (my father and I) increased during this time. Though I was emitting confidence, truth be told, I was desperately insecure.
One particular fracas started over a spatula… Important, right? Dad asked for the spatula. I said, “This spatula?” , as I casually flipped it in the air between my hands, back and forth. I knew full well what spatula he was referring to and that I was being impertinent, but I didn’t care. My father was loading the dishwasher after dinner and I held the last item needing to be put into it before we had completed our clean-up. “Yes, that spatula…”, I could hear the frustration bubbling in his voice portending imminent danger, but once again I thought that I was being funny and cute. “Daniel. Give me the spatula now please!” I heard the clipped way the words were presented, knew that I had pushed too far, but didn’t really care. “Just a second, Sir….” I used the title sarcastically perhaps to mock the fact that he was still in his Air Force uniform from his day at work. A couple more flips of the spatula between my hands and then I flung it in his direction not caring if it hit him or the floor first and turned to walk away, thinking myself rather funny in my disrespect.
I heard him before I felt him. Dad rumbled the distance between us like a charging bull-elephant, grabbed me firmly by the shoulders and turned me quickly to face him. I can’t remember exactly what he yelled at me. It doesn’t matter; this blow-up was well earned on my part. After his St. Helen’s worthy eruption, letting me know, in no uncertain terms, how disrespected he felt, he shoved me in the direction of my room telling me I was going to spend perhaps the remainder of my natural life in there. I was somewhere between ashamed at myself and furious with my Dad for what I perceived was an overreaction. When I got to my room I sat on the edge of my bed for a long time, feeling much like what I imagine a white shoe feels like when it steps in a fresh pile of dog poop and having very unkind feelings towards my Dad.
Eventually Dad came into my room. I was too ashamed to look at him as he joined me on the edge of my bed. After what felt like forever, he spoke to me softly, asking for me to look him in the eyes. I could hardly bring myself to do so. Though I knew what I had done was wrong, my 12 year old pride was injured and I wasn’t about to make this impending lecture easy on him. When I finally mustered the courage to look at him through my scowl, what I saw froze my heart. I could see tears in my father’s eyes. I couldn’t remember any time my Dad had cried. Men from his era weren’t allowed to cry, were they? I just assumed he had his tear ducts cauterized shut as a child.
Curiously, he didn’t even bring up the events that lead to my banishment. “Daniel, I want to tell you something. Something I should have told you long ago but couldn’t quite ever bring myself to do. It is something that I never heard my own father ever say to me, though I am certain by the way he treated me, that he did. I don’t want to make the same mistake he made with me that I am already making with you…” I could feel the struggle my Dad was going through at that moment. I watched his eyes tear up again and I watched as the hard lines of his face softened. “Daniel, I don’t want you to go through this life with any doubt in your mind as I did.” At this moment he paused again and with a break in his voice, he said something that he had never told me before. “I love you Daniel! I love you so much!” He reached out, embraced me and within seconds I found myself quietly crying in his arms. “I love you too Dad!” I eventually sobbed. After a few moments, he stood, wiped the tears from his eyes and walked out of my room.
We never formally apologized to each other. In this case we didn’t have to. I am amazed by the courage he must have conjured in order for him to break with such an ingrained generational norm. Having him verbally express his love for me for the first time told me that not only did he forgive my actions and behavior, but that he too was seeking pardon for his. It was the perfect solution for us that moment and that situation and I have no doubt his words were perfectly timed and inspired.
This particular experience taught me a great deal about forgiveness. Through this and so many other life-examples I have learned:
#1 – We as parents are not always right and we should be capable of admitting our mistakes to our children.
#2 – Though I truly believe in apologizing specifically for and owning up for trespasses against others, love shown is a better indication of seeking forgiveness than just the words “I’m sorry” alone.
#3 – Truly seeking forgiveness or forgiving others cannot be done without pure intentions.
#4 – Selfish designs must be sacrificed in order to give or accept forgiveness. Relationships are far more important than pride.
These scriptures have been particularly helpful to me on the subject of forgiveness.
“I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” D&C 64:10
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love towards him whom thou hast reproved…” D&C 121:43
I am very grateful for the known love of my earthly father. Since that day, he has expressed and shown his love for me countless times. From this experience in my life, I have also grown to know of the love of my Heavenly Father. He knows I am an imperfect man, father and husband. He sees me, even in my late 30’s flipping that figurative spatula in my hand and occasionally tossing it at Him, yet He is always there to be beside me when I have quieted enough to allow Him to do so (typically while on my knees). Without fail the message is the same I received from my earthly father 25+ years ago. “I love you Daniel! I love you so much!”