My dad died today
This writing has been healing for me so I thought I would share because there might be others who can relate. Joe
MY DAD DIED TODAY.
Wow, those are some heavy words, words that make an impact on a person for life. Those are words that most people say with a quivering voice and tear-filled eyes. And, I’m sitting here with the question, “Where are my tears?” “Why am I not a broken down, blubbering, snot dripping mess?” Anyone who has known me longer than a minute knows that I tear up at everything; when I talk about my kids or my wife; when I talk about my newfound love and appreciation for how much my heavenly Dad (God) loves me and cares for me; when my kids give me a heart felt message in a card for Father’s Day; even when they play that cotton pickin’ Folgers commercial every year at Christmas time where the son unexpectedly comes home and wakes his momma up with the smell of a fresh pot of coffee.
So, where are my tears? I could say that my dad raised me to be a tough guy that doesn’t show weakness through tears. Well, from what I wrote above, we know that’s not true. I could say that I don’t have any tears because I am overcome with the joy that he is now in Heaven with Jesus and that is only a cause for celebration. Even though that is true, it was equally true for my mom who went to be with Jesus 11 years ago, and I was an uncontrollable weeping site to behold.
I think my case of the missing tears may be because even though my dad is no longer here on this earth, my life will not change in any significant way. Those are hard words to write, so let me explain. There was a huge difference between the types of people my mom and dad were. My mom was the typical stay at home, take care of the house and kids, June Clever kind of mom. She was the cook, the taxi driver, the teacher, the party planner, the coach, the nurse, the nurturer, the disciplinarian, the one who told me every day that she loved me, the one who prayed with me every night before bed, and boy did she spoil me.
My dad, on the other hand, was the bread winner for our family. He was a career military man; raised by his dad to never show emotion and who never taught him how to love well. He was always there, but never really “present” in my life. I can clearly remember the day when he told me for the first time in my recollection that he loved me, and that was on the day I left home for college.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad loved me, and I loved him; always have and always will, but we never had that close, connected kind of relationship. I can’t remember ever sitting down and having a deep conversation about anything of real value or importance. I don’t remember ever calling him to get his take on an important life decision I had to make. I do remember how hard it was each year on Father’s Day when I was standing in the card aisle at the store looking for a card. I tried to find a serious one each year, but I never really felt their sentimental messages, so I had to resort to finding a funny one…again.
Years ago, I read a book written by John Trent called “The Blessing”. It is a great book that talks about the importance of parents (especially dads) giving their children the blessing in different ways. Receiving a father’s blessing has always been a huge deal, and if you don’t believe me, ask Jacob and Esau. In his book, Trent discusses five different ways that parents give their children the blessing: Through meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, and an active commitment.
When I got through that book, I stopped and thought about it and said, “Well shoot, I didn’t get any of these from my dad. I don’t blame him, mind you; it wasn’t his fault. He did the best he could with what he knew. He simply raised me the way his dad raised him. Maybe it was his generation; maybe it was his military training; maybe he just didn’t know how.
But for whatever reason, I was left lacking. His idea of doing the best for me (which is what I truly believe he wanted for me) was to make sure I did things right; that I didn’t make mistakes; that if I did mess up, his job was to point out all that I did wrong. I spent the majority of my time growing up on a baseball field; it was what I loved to do, but I wasn’t always perfect. When I made an error or pitched poorly and lost a game, he honestly thought the best thing he could do for me was to critique my performance and point out everything I did wrong. When I built a project that had a mistake, or it could have been done a bit better, that was what he chose to point out.
The difficult thing for me was that this idea of having to do everything “right”, of being “perfect” had become the way I thought God viewed me. I never really allowed myself to get close to God, and why would I? He was just going to criticize everything I did and get angry at me for messing up. I thought that all God did all day was watch every step I took so He could point out every mis-step I took and hold it against me. I sadly lived 50 years with that mistaken idea of who God was.
In the past couple of years, I have been shown that God sees me in a completely different way. He loves me every bit as much as He does Jesus. He is head over heals in love with me and that love just oozes all over me. I realized that no matter what I do; no matter what I think, He is right there to greet me with open arms. Kind of like the story of the prodigal son. That son didn’t realize that what he did was sinful and displeasing to his father; he realized that his actions put him in a pickle and he was starving to death. He simply thought that if he goes back home, he won’t die of starvation. It was a completely “self” focused thought, not on what was right and wrong, but what his flesh needed to survive.
And what did his father do when he came home? He lectured him on the rights and wrongs of wasting money, right? He told him just how sinful he was when he was living it up on booze and prostitutes, right? Not even close. That dad accepted his son without explanation; without apology; without any promise to change; without any reservation. That is who my heavenly Dad is to me, and that is the kind of dad I vow to be to my kids.
This all made me realize that I didn’t miss out on the blessing afterall. My heavenly Dad touches my heart and holds me close every day. He is the one who’s spoken message not only fills His Word, but fills my heart. By the sacrifice of Jesus…just for me, He has attached the highest value on my life. He has pictured a very special life and future for me, a life filled with amazing people and experiences and love. And, He continues to commit to me that He will always be active in my life, every second of every minute of every day.
I hold no ill feelings for my dad, like I said, he simply did the best he knew how to do. My heavenly Dad will welcome him home and never once speak to him about how he should have been a better dad to his kids. My dad will be completely whole in Heaven, not just without pain or suffering, but able to experience all the blessings that his heavenly Dad has for him that he never got to experience from his own dad. And some day, when I get to be reunited with him, we will get to experience a perfect father-son relationship, and that will truly be a great Father’s Day.
What’s this? What is this on my keyboard? Well I’ll be….it looks like I just found my tears.