Monday, June 22, 2009

Post Father’s Day Thoughts and Reflections

So yesterday was Father’s Day here in the United States.  As such, my father got to have his grill cleaned out and lawn mowed by his wife and adult sons.  It was also the first Father’s Day that my dad would spend where he could not call his father due to his passing.  Being someone who was almost a father myself, I look to true fathers with great respect and admiration.

Mothers, you see, have a much easier time connecting with their children.  Having carried the child and nurtured it into self-sufficiency, she has a special and close connection that fathers never could truly understand.  But for fathers, it comes much harder.  Making the right connection with our children is difficult.  After all, we have no natural physical connection to our children.

While I was in a Bible study this past Saturday with the other leaders of my church, our pastor said that God may have had Himself referred to as Father in order to illustrate the kind of separation we have with Him through our sin.  Indeed, a father has a distinctly separate relationship with his children and is often times feared or even hated by his own children.

I remember growing up and being subjected to punishments by my own father, usually involving spankings, because of my misdeeds.  I remember living in fear of what my father, not my mother, would do if I got into serious trouble.  This would often alienate me from so-called friends largely because I refused to do things that got me into trouble.  In seventh grade, a bratty girl even asked me, “Why are you such a goody-goody?” and I could only respond by saying, “I don’t know,” but I was thinking about the punishments my own father would inflict if I became a thorn in his side.  In retrospect, I am proud that my father instilled a sense of right and wrong through harsh discipline.

But I also remember my father reading the Bible to me when I was young.  I remember him teaching the Lord’s Prayer to me just before I went to bed.  I remember him telling me he was proud of me when I first traveled to Africa on a mission trip.  I remember him talking to me about a girl I was dating, stating his disapproval because she was four years older than me and I was only 15 at the time.

But fathers also inadvertently teach us about ourselves when we grow up and move out.  My father had a short temper growing up.  He never abused me or my brothers, but his temper was short and he had little patience for our antics (he still does to a degree).  I do not know where he developed it, though I have my suspicions given his own parents and siblings, I know that this aspect of him is in me as well.  As such, I have developed an enormous amount of patience and discipline that has allowed me to deal with many situations that would otherwise have overwhelmed me.

I know that I inherited much of my own wisdom and insight from my father.  Whether it was nature or nurture, I am not sure, but it was something I got from him.  This is probably the highest virtue I will hold on to all long as I can.  I also inherited his metabolism, which it not something I want to pass on to my children.  But it only reinforces my own discipline in that I have to work that much harder to keep healthy and active.

I consider myself lucky to have had a father like mine.  While he was never perfect, he never abandoned his family, never mistreated any of us, and never discouraged us from pursuing our own dreams.  He passed on to us a sense of integrity, a sense of right and wrong, and a sense of justice and mercy.  He also allowed me to discover the ultimate Truth.  He never coerced me into my faith, instead letting me find out on my own.

It is said that the measure of a parent lies not in his or her children, but in his or her grandchildren.  May God grant me the chance to show him how good he really was someday.