There are things you should know about my dad. He has a pretty intense relationship with power tools and tool shows (Its deep and its real). He is probably one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He's not terribly funny but his efforts are hilarious. So are his attempts at fashion. He also carries around a lot of pain.
Overall, I'd say my dad has been a pretty good dad. Much better than what he had for an example. My dad is somewhere in the middle of 8 kids, 2 of which are no longer with us. His father was an abusive alcoholic. I won't go into the terrors of it all, but let's just say he was more monster than man. He died when my dad was a teenager.
What a terribly confusing and heart breaking thing to go through. I mean, there is probably part of you that is relieved to finally be rid of the horror. But even a terrible dad is better than no dad to a teenage boy careening into manhood. I can't imagine. I just can't even imagine.
All this trauma had a profound affect on them all. It still does. He won't talk about it much. I know all of this mostly due to conversations with my mom and a handful of comments my dad has made. There was a lot of anger written on those words. There was a lot of anger trapped inside the man that raised me. He tried so hard. I know he did. It was just hard to be something he had no idea how to be. He never beat me. Or, God forbid, did anything else to me. But his anger could be terrifying and would come out of nowhere sometimes. Now I won't lie and say I was an angel. I'm sure there are many times I would have wanted to strangle me too, not that he ever even remotely tried.
I was daddy's little girl when I was little. He was my hero and I, his princess. But sadly, all that anger can build a pretty tall wall between 2 people. Before I knew it we were strangers and I hated him for it. Wow...I hated him so much for it. I found myself exactly in his same position. A teenager and fatherless. I did all the cliche things girls with daddy issues do. He went on with working, I'm sure clueless as to what to do with this ball of raging hormones and attitude. We both just kept on this silent dance of only saying what we must, careful not to touch that hot button that would crumble our facade. This carried on for years.
Now I knew that he loved me. At least, I heard him when he told me so. He and my mom split up for a bit my junior year. Anger was killing that too. He moved in with 2 of his brothers a few towns away. He would come over and mow our lawn and bring us groceries often. He was in so much pain. You could see it in his face, his shoulders. He had failed at the one thing that was holding him together, his family. He would just look at me and cry.
"You are so beautiful. I love you so much."
It will kill me till the day that I die that at the time I didn't believe him. I was too angry. In my eyes, he had been gone for a long time and he needed to just stay that way. I was just so angry. I carried this anger long into my adulthood. I was much better at hiding it though. I was even beginning to fool myself. I buried it deep. My parents had gotten back together in my senior year of high school. I guess I figured I better make the best of it since I was stuck with him. We fought from time to time, but I pretty much kept my distance and learned the dance.
Somewhere in my mid-twenties I moved to South Carolina. It was my first big adventure away from home. I became part of a ministry called the Cause USA. It was amazing. God did so much in my heart, my life, that year. I was coming to terms with the fact that this Father, the one in heaven, was nothing like my real one. He was so loving and forgiving. Not this hard, angry dictator. And as I accepted this loving Father gladly into my life, I began to harden my heart ti my earthly one even more. I crucified him in comparisons.
I had been having a particularly crazy day with the Lord. Its like we were sitting down for coffee and He was spilling all his secrets....but He had been drinking a few shots of espresso so they were coming in more of a downpour than a spill. About midday, I was sitting on a grassy hill on the edge of the parking lot of our ministry base, talking with a friend. I was telling her all this crazy revelation the Lord had been giving me. When I finished, We headed down the hill towards the parking lot. As soon as my foot hit the pavement, I was stopped dead in my tracks with this vision of my dad's face. Now forgive me, Lord, for paraphrasing...its been a few years, but this is essentially what the Lord said:
"You know, he could have been the kind of father he had. He was many things but he wasn't that. He didn't beat you. He never drank. He always asked you to go places with him when you were little, even if it was just down the street. He bought you "just because" presents. He killed himself trying to provide for you. Remember your junior year? He mowed your lawn even though he'd moved out . He bought you groceries. Paid your rent. He cried over you. He tried so hard to be more. Do you not see that was me loving you? You need to forgive him. He did his best. He's hurting too."
Right then and there I dropped to my knees and sobbed. Sobbed and repented. I immediately went back to my dorm and wrote him a letter, telling him I forgave him and I was sorry. And I meant every word of it. I asked my mom about it later and she said when he opened it, he said, "Well what in the world did I ever do to deserve that?"
I've been thinking a lot about fathers lately. I'm not sure why. Just have. I've been thinking about how so many people I know have a similar story as mine. Or worse. My dad's. I've been thinking about how sad it is that so many people grow up without fathers or, at least, a father figure. I've been thinking a lot about how sad it is for little girls to grow up without and example of what a good man should be. To never have that security. I've been thinking a lot about how sad it is for young men to grow up without ever knowing how to be a good man. To have that leadership. Thankfully, some have figured it out on their own or maybe had an encouraging momma who fought hard for her children to be fully aware their potential. But some haven't. Some are trapped in this place of limbo, not sure who they're supposed to be but knowing whatever it is, they're not it. So sad. So angry. Then they become parents and in some way, the cycle continues. And continues. And continues.
I'm so grateful Jesus found me on that hill and opened eyes. He broke the the cycle. I can only pray, if this is your story, He will open your eyes too. And your heart. That he will breathe forgiveness in your nostrils and it will blow through your soul. Everything it lands on, made whole again. I can only pray that with what love the Father has loved you, you can turn that love into a bridge between warring nations. I can only pray you won't stay trapped in the hate that has forged generations of angry, broken people creating angry broken people. See the man, not the monster. The broken, hurting man. You don't have to carry this anymore. You are not fatherless.
I pray and that an army of fathers would rise up. Men of God, armed with love and mercy, would rise up in this nation. That you would use them to release the captives of a fatherless generation. Break the cycles. Throughout the Bible, we see you raise up father after father to lead your lost and broken people to a higher ground. You laid that burden on your son, Jesus, Father of the fatherless. You are the father of all. Jesus, let the men rise up, let them be your hands and feet. Let them be a physical representation of what your heart already speaks of, unconditional love. Let them be true leaders. Men who love your word and are humble in heart. Place the lonely in families. Heal hearts. Melt them like wax. Reclaim this generation and the generations to come as fully yours. Break of all the false identities placed on men and this curses spoken over them. Let the women of church call them forth into their rightful places. Let the women of the church release the men from their low expectations. Heal the hearts of women who have been hurt by men, especially their fathers. Help them to forgive. Help us all to love better...to love well. Restore unity. Restore families. Send the fathers Jesus. We need them. We need you.
In Jesus' Name,