I have some opinions about my father. Apparently, they’re pretty strong opinions.
A few weeks ago I was at my sister’s house and we were rehashing stories back and forth. There’s some rough ones in our family, but I don’t think that’s any different with any other family. But these stories are ours.
She told me a tale, however, that made me cringe. The odd part about it is that I couldn’t remember anything of it. My wife will tell you that this isn’t unusual, but sometimes it bugs me.
There are huge chunks of my life that are simply missing. They’re years of pain, anger, rage and violence that simply have been wiped away. And as my sister sat there telling me this story, my jaw hung open and my heart was just sad and empty.
I got an idea there that I wanted to write a book about fatherhood. I love being a dad. My friends say I’m a decent one. I really enjoy my children and I think that they enjoy me.
When I’m honest, there’s been a good bit of my parenting that’s been shaped by the thought, “I’ll never do it like dad did it.” This has been a real thing.
I’ve sat and dished all the ways my parents blew it with us. And it’s not that they didn’t, it’s just that I’m so arrogant. In talking about all of the ways that they blew it, I missed all of the ways that they nailed it… one in particular. (I’ll get to that another time)
It’s so easy to write off your parents. Hind sight, of course, is always 20/20. We see what they did wrong, how it should have been done… but the variables simply don’t line up for us to ever truly understand. In fact, I’ve made some pretty sick mistakes in my marriage and parenting over the last 10 years, enough that I should know better than to write off my mom and dad.
Lately, it seems like God is bringing back home to me the ever-present reality that I just don’t know. I don’t. It always hurts really bad when he shows us this. We have to admit we’re wrong. We have to actually look our arrogance in the eye and let the wounded Healer give us compassion. It’s hard… actually, hard is a pretty weak word for it.
We seem look on the world with these eyes that size up and assess, break down, classify, write off and then put it in a box.
So, the other day I was sitting with a friend and we were relaxing and chit-chatting about our parents. I got talking about my dad, and went down this whole train of rabbit trails.
Have you even had one of those moments where it seems like God is guiding you through a thought, and you’re simply watching it play out before your eyes. God is so merciful to show us things if we’ll sit still long enough to listen.
Right there, I felt like I got a small glimpse of my father. Not my heavenly father, but rather, my very, very earthly father. Event after event came up in my brain. It was everything that I could do not to break down and cry right there for all that he’d been through… and all that he’d tried to do.
In the end I uttered, “Wow… my dad’s kind of my hero.”
I’m going to write that book. And I have no doubt in my mind that it will be very difficult to do. But I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to spending some much needed time admiring my dad despite all of the mess.