Father’s day is an emotional day for me. My dad passed from this life in 2011 shortly after we celebrated my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. Each year since becomes both a celebration of the life he lived and the blessings bestowed on us as a result, as well as a deep sense of loss that he is no longer with us. I can no longer touch his face or feel his embrace.
For me, my daddy was perfect! I could not have asked for a better father, and feel so very blessed that God chose to place me into his loving care. I have learned over time, however, that even though he was perfect for me, he was far from perfect otherwise.
As we just recently celebrated another Father’s day, I took the time to reflect on some moments I shared with my dad that fell into this “not so perfect” category, and I learned a few things.
There was the time, for example, I was eight years old and, sitting in the back of our pick-up truck, asked my dad to tie my shoes. At this point in my dad’s life he often lived under a mound of stress at work, and outward bursts of anger were more common than they were in his older years. And for those of you who may not know, I had four older brothers.
“Do you mean to tell me”, dad said in frustration and anger, “that you are eight years old and you don’t know how to tie your own shoes? No one has taught you how?” Responding out of emotion at the volume and intensity of his voice, I started to cry. In anger he proceeded to teach me how to tie my own shoes, telling me I was never to ask him to do this again.
There was also a time I recall when I was a young teenager. Sitting one day on the couch with my legs against my chest, dad walks into the room, glances at me and then quickly turns away. In a breath of anger he shouted “PUT YOUR LEGS DOWN!” I honestly had no clue at that moment what had angered him (that I was flashing anyone who happened to walk past). Responding out of emotion, I stood and stormed off to my room.
Those are but two of many examples of outbursts like this by dad from my childhood, but I wonder if you caught on to something I was saying. Rather than seeing past the outburst into my dad’s heart, I responded out of emotion! This emotion kept me from understanding basic things that he had no idea how to communicate effectively.
How often that is the case with so many when anger flares! Our natural reaction is to respond out of our emotions. Looking back now, I can clearly see all the times my dad tried so desperately communicate with me in ways he thought I should understand, but failed. Although it is far too late to go back in time now, I truly wish my responses in those moments had been different. But what I have moving forward is the opportunity to learn from my own imperfections, how to listen, how to better communicate, how to adequately express love, how to avoid reacting out of emotion…
“Come to Texas, baby, you have a home here…”
Now advance forward about 10 years or so, and you will find my dad has not only mellowed, but was also learning to be a better listener. And it came at a point in my life when I was already emotional, and so desperately needed a tender response. Yep, I had messed up terribly by trying to get out of a bad, abusive relationship the wrong way, and the church I was attending at the time was threatening to “turn me over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (from 1 Corinthians 5:5). Yes, you heard right.
So after spending years pushing my parents away, I suddenly had a strong desire to reach out – and talk to my mom – who was not home…! It was daddy who answered the phone. Sobbing and completely broken I cried out, fully expecting the outburst of anger I had grown accustomed to in my early years, and bracing for him to tell me something along the lines of how I had made my own bed that I must now sleep in. But that is not what happened. After pouring my heart out and admitting what I had done, my dad simply said ““Come to Texas, baby, you have a home here…”
Like the prodigal son, I went home, and I have never looked back!
I was reading a really good article recently, written by John Bevere and titled “Why Moses Turned Down God’s Offer”. Moses was about to lead God’s people into the promised land, but God had said “You are going to a rich and fertile land. But I will not go with you myself…” (Exodus 33:1–3 TEV). Moses response was essentially that if God was not going, neither would he go. If he had to choose between God’s presence and God’s blessing, then he was going to choose God’s presence (click here for the full article: http://messengerinternational.org/blog/john-devotional/why-moses-turned-down-gods-offer/ )
As I read it, I could not help but think about dad. He poured into us a rich heritage of love, work ethic, and service to others that we all benefit from and enjoy today. But I would trade all of those blessings to have had him with us in our lives longer. I love and miss him dearly! So when John Bevere speaks here about choosing God’s presence over God’s blessings, I can totally relate! What a treasure we have in Christ Jesus, and He is by far worth more than any earthly pleasure or treasure I would ever desire or have!
So dad, you may not have seen me post anything onto any social media site on Father’s Day, but I just want you to know still how much I love you. I am forever grateful that God gave you to me, and for all the years He allowed you to be in my life!
As a side note, that church followed through with their threat and told me they had indeed “turned me over to Satan”. At first the thought of this wigged me out, because I was still wrapped up into their poor works based theology. I’m now happy to say my “flesh” is being destroyed, daily! As I continue my journey with the Holy Spirit, I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh (Romans 7:7). I am also confident of TWO things, that He who began a good work in me will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6); and secondly although Satan truly desired to sift me as wheat, that like Peter, my Jesus was praying for my faith not to fail, so that when I turned back, I would provide strength to those in need (Luke 22:31-32).