At this time of year when we contemplate what our fathers mean to us, I have been thinking about my relationship with my father:
Mark 13:12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
When my father left, my world shook, divided, crumbled. At age ten I stood still for what could have been one-thousand years waiting for his sky-blue golf shirt to come back through the garage doorway, into our home. Dad likely returned when I was fast asleep in my puddle of tears and snot. He must have left before I woke up for school the next morning. I felt betrayed. Little did I understand that alcohol betrayed my father. I would not understand for another two decades that alcoholism does not always afford the addict privileges such as choice. Mom gave dad the choice to get well and remain a family. At that time, he was not able to choose well, or choose his family.
Proverbs 20:20 If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
I cursed my father for leaving. The dim-lit life I faulted him for creating left me feeling deep angst, bitterness, and whole-hearted anger at God (certainly a God folks referred to as “Father”). Fathers leave daughters, this was my belief. How could I trust a Father in heaven? Fathers leave. I tested the words of Proverbs 20:20, as my heart grew darker each hateful thought, word, wish I directed toward my father. I felt abandoned by my one and only dad. As for God (“Father” God), what kind of God would allow a dad to split from kids, family as my dad did? I cursed my dad. I cursed God. My life progressively grew dark, pitch dark.
Mark 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall . . . honor your father and mother.’
Honor your father . . . how could I? I was not capable of honoring who lived in my psychology as a stark contrast to my wishful thinking: if only dad had stayed, if only dad had lived in Indiana, if only my dad behaved as a dad, and if only God cared. Twenty-five years is a long time to loathe someone, especially a parent. Each day I wrestled with who dad was versus who I wanted him to be. For twenty-five years I spent shifting blame for my woeful existence to a broken man, my father. I blamed a Father in heaven who, unbeknownst to me, longed to Father me.
Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
My thirty-sixth birthday I vacationed on the shore of Pearl Lake in Traverse City, Michigan. With one small bag of basic clothes, toiletries, and simple bag of art supplies. Collage and poetry were a method of hearing my inner voice and discovering what laid dormant inside of myself. Much healing has resulted from my time spent with scraps of magazine, glue, a blank page, and pen for composition of a reflective poem. The evening I turned thirty-six while creating collage in the midst of nature, I produced a piece that provided a life-altering bounty of forgiveness toward my father. The timing of this divine intervention was part exhaustion from hauling around heartless rejection of another human, and part acceptance that I was a loved, child of God. I surrendered the load of disdain I held toward my earthly father; a man loved by our Creator, our Father in heaven, Jesus, God. Finally, dad and I were on equal footing. I became capable of understanding him, a mere human. I began to love him.
Mathew 5:45 . . . that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
I am a child of my Father in heaven, as well as a child of my earthly father. I like who I am today and credit both Father in heaven and my earthly father for who I am. Dad and I speak on the phone daily. We text regularly. Weekly, dad and I share a meal and several laughs. We hug often. Each time dad and I interact, we part with “I love you.” I have a ceased cursing my father. My father is honorable. I forgive my father. In the eyes of our Father in heaven my dad and I are equally loved, cherished, worthy, and valued.
June 16th is Father’s Day. I pray dads and kiddos alike revel in the love our Creator casts upon us. I pray that forgiveness wins over disappointment, misunderstanding, and failed attempts. I love my father. Thanks be to God (Father in heaven).