Friday, May 16, 2008

Tribute To My Dad

This was written a while ago when we almost lost my dad. It mentions a "bottomless void." It's been a long time since I've felt a bottomless void which suggests that there has been progress!

I saw in your triumphant expression one of the first days we were in my new little house. It said, “We did it. We made it. YOU made it.” I saw and felt something of that again, when you bought me a whole car - lots more than you’d ever spent, trusting me to take care of it after so many woes and losses in the car area. I felt again the soothing comfort of knowing that my father cares for me. And there it is in those times, those crossroads.

But I shy away from expressing how much you mean to me, for fear of the times when all that goodness fades away in those many everyday firing lines when you lose your temper again and become abusive. I have learned to realize that you don’t understand or know what causes this, and I have forgiven you.

I only now think again of how the love is there, like it says in the New Testament, “seen only in a glass darkly, but then, face to face.” I wish that we could see love so much more completely NOW, instead of beyond here. But I know that some cannot reach as far as the God of grace has given me the grace to reach, to know the unfathomable love of OUR father. I know that you may not be able to reach that far, dear father, in this life. Yet I am so happy that these moments occur when it is possible for me to actually perceive what it feels like to be a girl loved by her father.

And so I am thankful to my heavenly father, whom I hope you will understand has undertaken in your place in many ways, to fill the incredible bottomless void that was my lot in life to bear, and to teach me what a father’s love is. What I find so amazing is that He has led me to see that my earthly father actually shares some of His eternal qualities.

So I AM blessed, after all, who once was cursed, so I thought, to think now of the many times you have given unselfishly to me as only a father can.

I will always remember the visit to Hutchinson when I had “lost my mind” and you came to the police station where they had brought me, and I felt safe when you got there. Then you put me up in a local hotel because I insisted that I stay away from the big city for that night because it was “too evil” to go back to. You took care of my car which broke down.

And then you drove out in the morning to meet me again and have breakfast with me and it was like being in heaven. My dark fantasy turned into a bright child’s fantasy.

And I remember as a teenager, the shoes with the fringe like moccasins that we couldn’t really afford, but that’s one of the things that fathers do is buy things they can’t afford for their kids. I remember the endless budgeting and buying large quantities for the family and that you even did most of the grocery shopping. I remember always finding a way for us to do things that richer people did. Somehow we got to do them in spite of our humble means.

I remember strong hands on the wheel of the car as you navigated so securely on every family trip, so we could see America. WE SAW AMERICA. That’s why we learned to love it. I remember that when a black architect came to show the plans for the new church how I realized that you didn’t think of “them” as inferior at all.

I remember chocolate and ice cream were such an important part of your life. Mine too!

I remember bible camp was a place we got to feel what God was like, and you were helping to make that place come alive for everyone there.

I remember that I couldn’t do anything to erase the pain or change anything in your life that wasn’t right. But I think I learned to love men the way they really are, instead of how we girls wish they could be.

I will always remember and hold dear seeing the gentle, vulnerable spirit inside a man who had to go to war when it was the second time the entire world was at war! Fortunately you didn’t have to fight, because you are a sensitive man.

I saw that gentle spirit when your cat, Tish, died and you cried.

I saw that gentle spirit when you picked movies out of my collection that you most wanted to see, and they were “chick” flicks starring women who are not lusty floozies but sweet, innocent women that I admire. You picked this sweet movie that I would have missed, made in the 80’s that is a tribute to the great character studies that have been done in the 80’s about authentic love between a man and a woman.

I don’t think I can ever convey love to you, because I don’t know if you’ll ever sufficiently forgive yourself. Nevertheless, I DO know that I will see you where all things will be revealed and come to light, and your pain will be gone, never to return.


David said...

Hello long time friend,
Its good to read your common sense words. I'm happy to see how you love your father so much, after all that has happened in the past.
Being a pastor isn't an easy job. Its almost the hardest job in the world. Its about acting like a Christian 24 hours a day for life. Even the President of the United States can say, "I don't eat brussel sprouts." But if the pastor doesn't love them he must hide the discussion. (That's only an illustration.)
Everyone expects them to be perfect. Qne the pastors want to be perfect, so they work real hard at it. Unfortunately, we can either work on our sins and faults, or we can work on our love. When WE do it, it must be one or the other. We can't manage everything. We don't have the personal resources. This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 7.
But with God nothing shall be impossible. He can fix our love deficit and our behavior deficit, all in one move. This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 8.
I think you are learning this by experience. When we know the love of God as He poured it out to us through Jesus, and we focus on His love and righteousness, we respond in kind. His love becomes better than all our unrighteousness and righteousness put together. So we slowly but surely leave them all behind. This is what Galatians calls Righteousness by Faith.
Love you, sister. Thanks again for commenting on my blog.

Gabrielle Eden said...

Thanks for this too, David,

I love my Dad, with tough love. I still feel pain, and I feel anger too, at times. But forgiveness - that's what matters.