“Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us. . . ” Hebrews 12:9a New Living translation
What is or was your father like? Do you look forward to this day or dread it?
I regret to say I had no respect for my father. Hatred and resentment maybe but not respect. He was an uneducated man, who had no time for me. He rarely spoke to me. Any verbal usage on his part took the form of yelling because I didn’t meet his unspoken expectations. Nothing I did ever seemed right for him. As a result my father and I were not close. He always said I was contrary. Perhaps we just misunderstood one another? Things certainly were not ideal between us. Inspite of that I sought his approval for many years, thirsting for a drop of affirmation on my existence. The thirst remained unquenched.
Time passed and I moved out on my own as a young adult. After three years, my parents asked if I would move back home to help out with running the house. For the first time they needed me and I held the reins of control. What would I do?
Open father wounds still throbbing, I decided by the grace of God to move back and help. It proved a providential decision on at least two fronts.
The first front took me totally by surprise; father began to soften. He initiated some conversation with me. Awkward chit chat about food I cooked, but I was grateful for his attempt. Eventually chit chat evolved into brief exchanges of feelings. My heart soared each time we connected even for transient moments. We were actually building a relationship. And then it all came to a halt.
My father died suddenly of a heart attack and there would be no more talking or anything. I was 24 and he was 59 when we had our last conversation in the city hospital.
I left work in mid-shift to see him when I heard of the heart attack. He told me he felt like he could finally rest and that I should go back to work and not worry. He looked stable and peaceful so I obeyed. He died just a few hours later. HIs death was the second front that also took me by surprise.
Only our heavenly Father knew what was around the corner when my parents asked me to move in just two years prior. Had I said “No” to their request I would have missed precious opportunities to connect with my Dad. I am forever grateful that I forgave instead of clutching onto spite. Being at home again, I filled the round-the-clock emotional support role for my mother to manage the loss. My gracious Father knew all about it and it was a growing time for Mom and I. I didn’t worry about Dad because I knew he had given his heart to the Lord so he was in Heaven and no longer suffering.
My personal healing continued after his death. I endeavored to understand the man he was and why he acted as he did while I was young:
He came from a family of 13 children and was born a few years before The Great Depression. Hired out to work on a farm by age 12, caused his lack of education. He needed to earn money to help out at home prior to WW II. Being in a large family and away from home working he didn’t receive much love and attention. So he couldn’t give me what he didn’t have. He did the best he could. In understanding his background came healing for me. These realizations unlocked my ability to FLURISH. The wall of resentment fell apart and I began to focus on the positive attributes of his fatherhood rather than the negatives:
He was a hard worker: an example of diligence.
He consistently provided for our family: an example of self sacrifice.
He budgeted successfully: an example of prudence.
He never came home drunk: an example of self-control.
He never cheated on my my mother: an example of faithfulness.
And, after he invited Jesus into his heart he attended church regularly. Someday I know I will see him again in Heaven to pick up where we left off. I look forward to it and have no regrets.
My prayer is that you have wonderful memories of your father and are able to enjoy them or him in person if he is still living. If not, allow the Lord to help you see his positive traits and/or influence on your life. Time is precious, honor him while you can and FLURISH.
“Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12 Amplified Bible
Happy Father’s Day. . .