It is Father’s Day, a day to honor our dads. And my gift is not yet in the mail. Grrrr…. Hang in there, dad – it’s coming! But in the card I went ahead and sent, I told my dad that I was having a hard time with a gift this year. Nothing seems substantial enough. I can’t think of how to gift him back in anyway close to the way he gifted me this past January. I have brooded over it, attempted to write about it, but I can’t seem to figure out a way to gift him back.
So, maybe my gift is this, dad: to receive the gift you brought to me. Maybe it is to open my heart and take it in freely, to receive all you are and all you do with gladness, without reservation. Perhaps the best I can offer is to receive.
It is Father’s Day. And I have a wonderful father.
My earliest memories are about my dad. I know I remember other things when I was 3 going on 4, but there was something about my dad coming home everyday that caused a high level of anticipation. There was excitement in the air. Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home! My mom led the charge in the preparation. I can’t remember what else happened on regular day during those years, but when dad came home, it was good times.
I can remember sitting across the living room as he settled in each day. He’d drink iced tea and then I’d want iced tea. He’d bite his nails, and then I’d bite my nails. Whatever he did, I wanted to do. And through my growing up years, that remained the same. When he took up coffee drinking when I was a young teen, much to my mother’s dismay, I wanted to as well. When he started eating Bleu Cheese dressing and the rest of the family balked at the smell, I haughtily started loving it, too. Whatever my dad did, from my young years, always seemed the right way to me. I don’t think he even knew how much I wanted to be like him, sometimes trying to win his approval, but like him nonetheless.
But most everyone knows how family can be tricky. And when you’re a child, you don’t realize that the people you love most in the world, the people who seem so perfect and all-powerful to you come with baggage and woundings of their own. And so, the enemy of my soul and the enemy of my dad’s worked to destroy the blind trust of a little girl towards her father. There were years the enemy stole from us. It wasn’t purposeful. My dad worked hard for the church and people, a strict disciplinarian who wanted me to turn out right. And while I wanted intimacy with my dad almost more than any longing I have ever experienced, I allowed my heart to harden towards him at times, even though, I have never, nor will I ever, question his motives of love towards me. I never thought for one second that he didn’t want what was best for me. But things can come between…
So, this past january, my dad came to my house with a gift. God had set me up for it a few days before, which is a whole other story. But my dad came and told me that he knew sometimes he had blown it. He said there were things he’d have done differently. He told me he knew very well that the wounds of a father are real. And he asked me, “What can I do to bring healing?” And all I could think was, There is nothing in me that desires ammending. There is nothing I would do to dishonor this man who is humbling himself before me, admitting that there were bumps in our past shared road. “What can I do,” he was asking me?
And I do not know how to repay the kindness of that gift. I do not know how to respond to show how unbelieveably blown away I am that he offered this to me. He was offering to look back at places of pain and misunderstanding (is there anything worse than understanding between hearts being broken?) and saying, “I am your daddy. I will bear that. You can tell me now what you couldn’t say then.” My dad has given me the gift of being a father who will shoulder my pains and insecurities.
How can I gift my dad back for that in a manner fitting?
All I can think is to receive it. And I do, dad. I receive your gift to me. I receive your love and I am in awe of the humility you’ve shown to me – you, the most powerful man in my life for ever and always, humbled himself to bear my burdens, my woundings, my hurts.
There is nothing you could ever buy for me or do for me that could mean more.
You have set in motion so much freedom and healing for me. You have given me the desire to right past wrongs and the courage to let people off the hook. You have gifted me beyond what I deserve and in a way most people never get to experience. Thank-you, dad.
All my love…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: I am the image of my father, and more, I hope, as the days go by.