The reflection of our Heavenly Father in our own fathers is an ever-burning source of comfort and love.
“God is our strength and our refuge, an ever-present help in trouble.” -Psalm 46:1
The memories I hold closest to my heart are the ones that play the sound of my Dad’s footsteps wandering back up the stairs…creaking open my bedroom door to make sure that I didn’t go to bed sad after I had out-frustrated everyone else.
There are few things more heartbreaking than crying alone in the dark. Without taking sides or solving problems, He just showed up and sat down. He probably felt like laughing, as I do at my children when they freak out over crazy stuff…but I don’t…because he didn’t. I’ll never forget the feeling of comfort that washed over me as I attempted to breathe normally again after crying …and drifted off to sleep uttering prayers of thanks.
Grown up and full of heartbreak one winter night, I arrived home from college in the sunless hours of the morning. A weeping lump under my covers, I heard the familiar creek of my door and footsteps of my Dad. “He better be worth it,” he said to me. He wasn’t. And I was strong enough to know it because my Dad was there. I didn’t make all the right boy choices as I grew up and out of the house…but I was always strong enough to stand my ground and turn around. I was confident that I deserved love because I had always been loved.
Some kids stomp there feet …I have one of those. Some lie down stiff as a board in protest…I have one of those, too…same kid. Others slam doors, and the one I have that does that is a direct product of my method of venting. I don’t think I stopped slamming doors until after she was born and I didn’t want to wake her up!!!
I can still picture my Dad outside my doorway, putting my door back on the hinges after I’d slammed it off once more. He was always putting the hinges back on in my life, too. Writing me funny notes on comic strips before he left to work odd shifts at his job. Mocking my catch phrase, “Whatever,” illuminating the hilarious irony in such a tempered response for one so good with words. And then there are the subtle influences that he probably didn’t even know he was doing on purpose: always singing the harmony part to the tune on the radio, reacting to pressure with laughter in place of yelling, and squeezing the ever loving life out of me with his tight hugs.
My dad taught me without every saying a word that no matter where I was in life, God was there. Because God is laughter in times of seriousness. God is comfort in lonely sadness. God sings the harmony part to our tune on the radio.
” Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” -Proverbs 22:6
Dads, be encouraged. Be there and be you. Be who God made you to be, and if you don’t know who that is…ask Him…because it matters. You matter.
I’ll never forget the first time I cried myself to sleep without my Dad drifting up the stairs to check on me. I was away at college, and my best high school friend had just died. I was alone in a dark dorm room, sobbing on the top bunk. I prayed. Life shifted. And though I knew it to be true I felt, in that moment, that even though my Dad wasn’t there …God was.
I am never alone in sadness, and God will always put the hinges back on the door.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those who’s hearts are fully committed to Him.” -2Chronicles 16:9
Parents don’t clock out. They may retire from their careers and from the North, but they are still on the job. When I look back at my childhood, I see God’s hand in their lives leading me to the start of my own walk with Jesus.
I pray that I, too,am blessed to witness my daughter walk to and with Christ…because at least I know He’ll catch them when my natural imperfections slam the door.
(This is a post to encourage dads, but my Mom and Dad are kind of a package deal. Their commitment…going on 38 years of marriage… to honor the blessing God gave them in each other is inspiring, and one would be one without the other. So, thank you Mom, for encouraging Dad to be Dad. I love you and appreciate you both so much.)
God has never failed to illuminate the long and winding path of motherhood with tender moments and gut-breaking laughter. Feel free to read all about it at http://sunnyand80.com