Dad’s on my case

15 Dec

I have had a special-feelingy day today. All delicious, like walking on crisp autumn leaves in a yellow light, or triple chocolate cookies with marshmallows and Starbucks coffee. I think it was because I went to sleep being held by my Dad. The other one. The one who gave his Son.

I noticed when a pastor in a church we sometimes visit suggested that we worship and acknowledge the presence of the Lord, like we do for our earthly fathers. Perhaps it’s the conventional Indian way of filial relating… What this pastor said was that we hardly ever say ‘Hey, good morning’ on our way out to our Dads. We made sure we went to him, stood before him and respected him… and then said good morning. Maybe my own dad has missed this all his years. But growing up as I did, in the context that I did, it was hard to imagine a dad to laugh with. It was hard to imagine rushing to tell my dad the funny line of the day or to tell my dad just what I heard on the playground… My mum filled those positions of listener and friend and most trusted confidante. My dad, now, I think is a wonderful man who is full of single-minded allegiance to that beautiful gospel that has saved us. He was often proud of my achievements outside the home – school, work, college. He would show me off to his friends.

I was never comfortable with it, but I did appreciate his taking pride in my activities. However, there were so many things I did that my father never understood why I liked in the first place. My most enduring impression of our relationship and my childhood is, I think, a feeling of inadequacy. The things I did do could always do with room for improvement. But for a child, without the appreciation that I think I craved, a relentless push towards correction and betterment often becomes faith-destroying. I think I only saw the criticism. I don’t know if there was anything else. I’m sure there was. And I know there was love. Yet, there’s always been distance between my dad and me. While that hurts me, I am not sure I would change that. The distance is not enmity. There is so much love.

I longed to talk to my Dad, try out new words on him, discover my confidence in conversation with him, earn his approval. But I still longed for him to give me it without wanting me to be different. When I found Christ, it blew my mind. My Dad actually did do all that!

Still over the passage of years, my habit of inadequacy will catch up with me and I find myself forgetting just how much Dad wants to talk to me. Just how much he’s longing for me to come and snuggle beside him. I’m surprised to realise it’s he who tells me he wants time with me… I often forget my love. And really, I know it’s I who want – no, need this time with him. But God? Letting himself need me? Pshaw.

And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Who is my God? Who is my Father? Few sermons stand out to you years after they have been delivered. This was about fifteen years ago. And I still remember this man preaching on the father love of God. He said we forget that he’s our father. There was something about the way he spoke of it which made it so real to me. And created a hunger in me for it that I still remember. He told us to remember what a loving Dad we have in our Lord, to crawl up to him like a little child, to forget our prayer lists and our verses for memory, our notations and our to-do list, to forget even the things we rush around doing for him as if that earns us the relationship we already have… and to curl up in his lap, climb up and hold on tight and just let him put you to sleep.

The memories I hold so precious are the few memories of my dad being comforting or, once, apologising because he did love me. But recently I’ve also been reading Crazy Love which is a wonderful book. There are videos which accompany each chapter in the books. And watching this father in action broke my heart into mouldable vulnerability last night. What blew me was the way he smiles in obvious delight when his son arrives or takes advantage of his dad. It’s as if he’s discovered something absolutely delightful and it’s never going to get old. It’s as if everything that little boy is saying is hilarious, insightful and all he wants to hear.

And suddenly it was as if God was saying: Will you never know how much I love you?

I look at you and I see me. That’s my baby, I made her in her mother’s womb, she even looks like me. This is the girl who holds my heart in her fingers. Because I’m letting her in. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you and long to share a smile with you. And everything you think (which I can hear, by the way) is just what I want to hear all about. I think those are the most amazing, insightful, funny and beautiful words I could ever hear because they are you. They’re about you. And you. You are who I want.

So I went to sleep in my Dad’s arms tonight. And he reminded me of Jeremiah 1. Not only in confidence, in the quiet of my room but also through the family birthday card and through Crazy Love. And in a million other ways, Dad’s on my case. And he’s got it covered.

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