"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, June 13, 2008

For Daddy

As Father's Day approaches, I'm keenly aware that not all daughters or sons "remember with fondness" their fathers. In fact, for many the day holds pain, regret, loss, or maybe even anger. And for so many in this generation, it just punctuates the absence that has caused years of suffering. But for me, the day provides an opportunity to reflect on a father who gave me a healthy view of my heavenly Father.

I was sharing that very thought with someone recently. When I was in 6th grade, I obviously hit "the age of accountability" that we hear so much about but on which we really can't put our finger or explain. I think I had used a bath towel and put it back in the cabinet wet. Of course, Mom found it and wanted to know who did it. "Not me!" Well, it wasn't long before the first-time guilt hit. I knew I had lied and it bothered me greatly. That very night, I crawled up in my daddy's lap back in his bedroom, and I confessed every known sin to man -- or at least to me: from sneaking the frozen cake squares out of the freezer and eating them behind closed doors (not that that one wouldn't have caught up with me down the road) to the pack of crackers I stole from the "Sing," a local rippy mart. (I think my friend jokingly commented at this point that it sure was a good thing my evening of confession happened before I got too old and REALLY had something to confess.) My daddy didn't berate me or punish or scold me, he just gently let me tell all, get it out of my system and come clean, and I'm sure he must have encouraged me to "go and sin no more." I don't remember that part. I just know the sense of relief I felt having bared all and the security I found in my father's lap.

Of course, I didn't realize it until many, many years later, but Daddy was sitting proxy for my heavenly Abba that night. When I think of mile markers in my faith journey, that was definitely one of them. I was so fortunate to have a daddy that was available, but most of all, forgiving.

And that wasn't the only time his presence was big to me. Each afternoon at 5:30 (except on Thursdays, because that was his day to drive), his carpool would drop him off at the end of the driveway and I would fly out to meet him. He would swing me up in his arms -- always as delighted to see me and I was to see him. Oh, the day, though, when I went running out and he tried picking me up -- and I was too heavy!!!! Oh, the pain of that even today... But we little girls do grow up.

Daddy was a storyteller, too. Another Jesus quality. When nighttime came, Daddy would see to it that prayers were said and then we would turn out the lights; I would pull the covers up and Daddy would tell me a story (sometimes my brother Chip would be in there with me) . Seems like time was all he had. I know he was making some of them up, but I have a feeling most of the stories were true. Quite honestly, I can't remember them, but I do remember laying there listening and never tiring of hearing them. Sometimes, I'd have requests. Other times, it was storyteller's choice. Both were special.

But one of the richest memories of Daddy is catching him on his knees. Every night, Daddy prayed -- and he did it the old-fashioned way: at the side of his bed, on his knees, hands folded. (Oh, no doubt, Mom prayed for us children, too. But I think she did it the only place she could find some quiet -- behind the locked bathroom door.) Surely the weight of the world was on Daddy's shoulders as he raised us four children on limited means. But I have a feeling he found the strength on his knees. As for that image, it is etched in my mind for all eternity.

I credit much of my faith to my parents, but I certainly know that my healthy view of God stems from my father. So, thanks, Dad. You took some of the faith struggles out of my life by being such a positive influence to me. I realize very few can give that kind of testimony in today's society where so many homes are absent of a father figure. These are different days we live in, but I hold tightly to the treasure you gave me. Happy Father's day, Daddy. I love you so much.

I would love to use this space for readers to comment on a father figure in your life: a dad, a stepdad, Boy Scout leader, uncle, brother, pastor, teacher, etc. Who made your view of God the Father a little stronger because of his influence in your life? Let's honor them.


Kristin said...

I'll have to comment more later...but just wanted to say really quickly that I'm proud of you for posting pictures! :-)

Charles Shelon said...

Ilove you Nancy, even when you got too large for me catch you. You didn't realize how much force was propeled at me when you were running full speed down the drive.


constantlyrunningtoHim said...

Today at church, Sean made a good point that I knew many of us do but He brought it to the front for me to realize just how much I love my Daddy. We joke about the a/c not working when we arrived at the beach last Saturday, but guess what I remembered today? The second thing I did was called my Daddy. (the first thing was call the realtor!) My earthly Daddy of course. Not that there was anything he could do from 5 hours away but just to talk it over, I thought. As I reflect on that situation, I realized I called him to get comfort or to be ok with what we were dealing with. The realtor said it might be Monday before someone came out and i'm thinking, oh no - we can fix this. He just reminded me, as Dennis already did, that it really wasn't our problem to fix. ALTHOUGH, there is no doubt he could've talked me through it. I KNEW we could figure it out over the phone! Oh well God did come through even for my pitiful request to PLEASE GIVE US SOME A/C! I'm sure God had plenty more prayers to answer that night but we ended up being "put up" in a condo ten times as nice as what we were staying in. Thank you God! What a simple BUT HUGE blessing.
So back to my Daddy. He's been a mechanic all of his life. God blessed him with the ability to fix stuff. I remember being a kid riding down the road and Daddy just COULD NOT pass someone who was broken down and in need. He had to stop no matter where we were headed or how late we would be. I will never forget the day he realized he just couldn't do it anymore. God put a tugging in his heart to help people when they were absolutely helpless. Those were the days before cell phones. The days when you had to walk to someone's house and hope they would let you use their house phone to call for help. I know my Daddy was an angel in disguise for many folks back then. He never would accept anything they offered only a simple offer of "if you ever see a need to help someone else, pass it on". These days he works at the Agricenter. He's the guy that stays there until every car/person has left the fairgrounds during the fair to ensure their safety and they have the ability to get going. He spends most of his "fair time" jumping cars off whose lights have been left on or unlocking some car whom the owner locked the keys in. He just amazes me! I joke all the time with him that he would've been a great thief! That's when he's quick to remind me that God gives us our talents. Whether we choose to use them is another story and how we choose to use them is even another.
I thank my God every day that I have a Daddy whom i've been able to watch grow in the Lord. When we were kids he didn't really go to church much at all but He has grown into something amazing that only God can do.
One other thing and i'll be done. One special thing my Daddy and I still do together is change my oil. Yes you heard it right. When I was little, I used to climb right under those cars and trucks with him. I was his monkey wrench girl or the tool getter. I learned really fast which wrench was which. One of the cheapest things you can do these days is get your oil changed and on Wednesdays if your a girl, you can get a discount at the jiffy lube BUT when it's time for my oil change, I go grab an oil filter and call Daddy. That is our time. He still puts the floor jack under the car for me and jacks it up but now he's the tool getter. I grab the floor dolly and roll underneath and we talk the whole time. It's a very unique thing we do and I absolutely enjoy every minute of it.