I cannot wake up on father’s day and call my father. I have not wished my father a Happy father’s Day, in nearly two decades. He is not around, for me to call and say I love you dad, or to just have his grand children sign a card and draw a picture. He is too far, for me to make that call. He has already crossed the bridge of life, to eternity…
I just sat down today to read through some letters my father wrote to me years ago when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. They are old fashioned, hand written. They are worn out and falling apart. I was able to capture a love that beamed through those worn out pages. I never had the opportunity to interact with him as an adult. I was sweet eighteen when he passed away. I had just graduated high school that year.
As I read those letters, one thing stood bold. He wanted to come home. He was away, working in the Middle East. In all his letters, he dreams his vacations plans with me, he wanted me to gather seeds for us to grow a garden when he came. I can’t remember if we ever did that. He promised to buy me a personal computer ( people, this is the year 1991, I am talking about!) when he came, and encouraged me to study, obey my mother and even asks me, my opinion about my sister’s studies!
He constantly asked me not to disappoint him with my studies and future.
As I read this letter, I saw my father in a new light. Growing up, I experienced a lot of pain from his addiction to alcoholism. He provided for us in ways he could, but his instability and lack of responsibility made it hard for us to respect him. Clearly a leadership was lacking. Though I did not have many words or ideas back then, my puny mind was able to grasp the inconsistencies and my defense was to stay away, be bitter and prove I am better.
When relationships happen, we take them for granted. We see only sin, only weaknesses in them. We struggle to pardon, remain in bitterness and constantly struggle to prove ourselves better. But years later, many, many seasons of hardships and maturing into an adult, I am able to look at my own life and say…
“Dad, I am no better than you. I still blow it. I may not be addicted to alcohol. I have other struggles that I battle everyday. I have stopped trying to prove myself dad and I just wish today, that we loved better, understood better and we lived better.
You grew me for eighteen years, and I have lived without you for sixteen years since. As an adult today, I understand you better. No more pointing my finger at you dad, for what has come of my life. All those heartaches led me to the Lord for I was in search of a father who would not fail me.
If you were around today dad, I would have hugged your frail body, I am sure you would have been old and frail and your body bearing marks of toil and hard work I would have told you…
Dad, look at me, I did not disappoint you. Its not that I grew up and made a name, its not that I became a Physical Therapist ( though you wanted me to become a doctor), its not that I married and raised four kids…no, none of that…I did not disappoint you, because I came to know the Lord as my Savior.
You are the one who taught me the song “I surrender all, All to Jesus I surrender…I surrender all” It was a pain to wake up hearing this, in the early morning hours, I have wondered how long your new found Pentecostal faith would last and when you would let me sleep some more. I want to tell you today that I surrendered it all to Jesus, just like you taught me.
You might not have preached sermons, you might not have counseled me, you might not have understood me like I wanted, its OK dad, in all your weaknesses (as how I saw it, then) you gave me the most important thing. You put the first seeds of faith in me that led me to the Lord.
I wasted many years struggling to prove better. I have kids today. What I saw in you then, they see in me today…sin, weaknesses, struggles. They might even grow up to say, I destroyed their life and I was a mean mom who never understood them, just like I did to you. They might point their fingers to me and blame me for my sin. I understand, it is the great, big circle of life. Everyone goes through all the motions. In the end, only what God thinks of us matter.
When you came to know the Lord, He made you righteous. I believe there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. I do know in the later years you strayed away from the Lord, but I rest today knowing God is faithful and He who began a work in you would have perfected it. (For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6). Christ has forgiven you dad, and I do no less.”
Happy Fathers Day, from this side of eternity!