Tag Archives: restoration

Lessons from a father

24 Jan

Today is for my dad. You might already know that my dad and I have a fraught relationship. I have learned so much from my heavenly Father, that I sometimes forget what I have learned from my father. Growing up, he did love me… and I have learned good things, beautiful things from him. I will not show this to my father because although he has talked about our relationship to others and to me, he would feel it presumptuous in me to do so. He has said this before. But too often, I have held on to the barbs that hurt, the little lines, the marks of childhood, teenage and womanhood… because it was hard to forgive, but it is so hard to forget. Today, I’m ignoring the thorns that came with the plucking. And I am opening a box of pressed petals… birthday cards, lessons, laughs.

“Always read a chapter of the Bible in the morning, before you do anything.” That has come to be translated in my life as beginning the day with God, so you’ll get through it with Him. Every morning, to this day, I try. And if I don’t, I know nothing feels right.

“Keep your eyes on the ball. Don’t move them anywhere else.” Philippians 3: 13-14

“Got to put a shirt on to pray.” OK, this one’s funny. It made me laugh and it annoyed him that it made me laugh :). But it reminds me to give God my best and on the other hand, it reminds me of why I smiled too. I want to be naked before God, open to Him, vulnerable to His probing my heart and my hurts. But I also want to make every effort to give Him everything, to give Him my messy best. I don’t want to reduce grace to an excuse, but honour it as God’s greatest gift.

Generosity. My father never liked to be caught out without being able to give to people who asked. It irked him if he couldn’t, like duty undone! It has taught me to not be proud of my giving and let my ego be hurt by having less, but to trust God to bless me to give more. It has taught me also that giving is important. I have learned that giving is for closed doors, and that need is more obvious than we want to know. That not all who ask need and not all who need ask. Would that we did all ask our heavenly Father! I have learned more from his actions than my father ever sat down to teach me, but I have learned it well.

One day, when I was 15, my father said he was sorry… to me. That was the only time. I asked him not to, and we both cried. That wasn’t the end of our fraught relationship – I’ve said ‘sorry’ too for unthinking, reactionary words but it wasn’t. Yet it is one of my most precious memories.

It has taught me to say sorry, even when it is such a bitter thing to do. It needs to be said, and if you were wrong or unloving, you need to love again and seek peace. It. IS. Necessary. Even after healing, sometimes not always, hearing someone say that they know you were hurting is comfort. And you could give that to someone.

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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