Today is Brazilian Father’s Day, and so, despite the fact that my father is not Brazilian, it is a sufficiently auspicious occasion, I think, to warrant a rare Sunday post.
In the summer between my third and fourth grade, my father accepted the call to a new pastorate, which meant moving to a new town and, for me, a new school. On my first day with my new classmates I decided to make a clean break with the past. When asked my name, I would say “I’m Andy” – though heretofore I had been known exclusively as “Andrew”. This was heady stuff for my fourth-grade self. While my family and friends at church continued to call me Andrew, at school I became “Andy”. I had two identities. I had street cred. I was edgy.
I don’t know what possessed me to think that “Andy” was cooler than “Andrew”. In retrospect, it’s really not. However, that is how I saw it at the time. At home I was Andrew, obedient son, respectable preacher’s kid. At school I was Andy, blazing my own path, beating my own drum.
And this double life continued through eighth grade.
Then something happened that made me rethink my plan. One day that year my Dad dropped me off at school, left, and remembered he had forgotten to tell me something important. I was hanging out with my friends in the hallway before class when I saw my Dad approaching. Walking up to me, a big smile on his face, he said “Hey Andy, I forgot to tell you that…”
What did he just call me?
To this day I have no idea what was so important that made him turn around and come back. The strangeness of him calling me “Andy” crowded all that out.
Later on we had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: “So Dad, why did you call me ‘Andy’ back there at school?”
Dad: “I thought that’s what you wanted to be called in front of your friends.”
Me: “Well…yeah…but, when you call me that, it’s just weird.”
Dad: (with his characteristic raised eyebrow) “So you don’t mind if I call you Andrew when you’re at school.”
It took me a while to figure out why I reacted the way I did. I finally came to the conclusion that, although I had built my “Andy” persona at school, there was always, deep in the background, the understanding that my father knew the real me, and it was completely natural that he should call me by the name he had given me, in whatever context.
And in this – as he often did, and does to this day – my earthly father provided me with an insight into the character of my Heavenly Father. For you see, it matters not what names, titles, or epithets I am given, or give myself, here on this earth. Those are all make-believe. What matters is the reality – what God has called me. And as someone who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, God calls me “son”.
As it turned out, that was my last year at that school. And when those double glass doors closed behind me for the last time, I left “Andy” there, for good. From then on I was “Andrew” to all who met me.
Many years later I chanced by the school again and decided to pay a visit, this time with my own son in tow. I walked through the halls, taking in the familiar sights and sounds. Walking into one class room, I was pleased to see, seated behind the desk, a teacher whose career dated back to my own school days. Her face brightened in recognition.
“Hi Andy!” she exclaimed.
My son looked at me in surprise. I shook my head, my glance telling him, wordlessly, “Don’t even think about it. I’m Andrew.”
Banner photo: Me, during the “Andy years”.
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