I started to see. . . who my father is instead of who – he’s not!
To begin with, today is Fathers Day. This year I am a very different person than I was last year. This is one of the first Fathers day that I honestly couldn’t wait to call my dad and say, “Happy Father’s day”. You see, for so many years… well for most of my life, I have had some pretty lofty expectations of my father. I’m sure they came from the movies and various other media sources. The world portrays fathers . . . good fathers one way and bad fathers another way. Like most dads, my dad didn’t meet the movie star quality of a dad often projected on the big screen. So, for most of my life, I have viewed my father as an imperfect father. This year, without saying a word to him, I embarked on a new adventure- to find out who my father is and why. My goal has been to hear his past and his present and to learn exactly who the man is and why, to actively listen to his words. And so, when I called, I began to ask him questions about him. I started to explore who the man is and instead of holding my breath and wishing for the call to be over (as I had in the past), I instead embraced the opportunity to learn. I started to see the calls as an opportunity to get to know who my father is instead of who he’s not.
Let me back up. Clearly, I haven’t had the best relationship with my father. Largely because I was close to my mother and I heard her heart and, well, I had my judgement in place, and, he was deemed, “Wanting!” (‘Mene, Mene, TEKEL, UPHARSIN’– translation: The hand writing was on the wall and it said, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting!” That’s found in Daniel 5:25-27). You’ve heard me mention it in the past. Anyway, I had written my father off for a long time. Then, a strange thing happened; the thought crossed my mind, “What if you drop all expectations of your father and, instead of being angry all the time about ‘what you’re not getting,’ you give him what he wants!” That was a bizarre thought! I cautiously called my father and asked him if there was anything I could do for him? Anything he would like? He said, “I would love it if you would call me once in a while to just say hello.” Calling my dad has never been easy as he loves to talk about his sons and, apparently, this has created a resentment within me. This wouldn’t be a problem, as I too love my brothers and love to hear of their accomplishments, but it hurts because his conversations have always perseverated on them and it has always been painful. I knew that this wouldn’t be an easy request.
But I wanted to try to give him what he wants. He’s in his eighties and I would like to hear his voice too while I can! So I agreed. I have been trying to call my father about every two weeks. Once, I actually had the audacity to confront my father and I say, “Dad, I think you play favorites and you love your sons more than your daughters.” (I should have been more honest and said, “More than me!” That’s all I care about, selfish person that I am!) He shocked me and said, without any hesitation, “I do love my sons!” He didn’t defend himself or make any bones about it. Just like that he said it. I remember thinking, “Is he allowed to say that?” Well, at least he’s honest! (This was many years ago when he still lived in Mahopac, NY and he had invited his kids to his house on Mahopac Lake one summer day and he was so happy that his sons were all there and he stated, “I’m going out on the deck to eat with my sons!” At the time, I cared a great deal about that exchange but today, I must be growing up because I realize, he’s allowed!
He’s allowed to love his sons deeply and even to enjoy their company more than mine! My brother is a teacher at West Point and my father loves the history of that place and the sports and the smell of the air and the belonging to West Point. When he tells me, “I’m going to West Point ….” I am happy for him. I know it makes his heart sing to be with his youngest boy and to be at West Point and I’m happy that my brother worked so hard to give my dad this pleasure! This is shocking to me as I barely recognize me! I have always been so selfish and “needed” to be the best and the favorite! To shine and climb on top of the heap (it’s a large family so heap is absolutely the right word!). I’m so happy for my dad and the pressure is off of me to make him happy because my brothers really do strive to make and keep him happy! That’s just one less job I have on this planet.
This morning (is it Odd or is it GOD?) I was reading in 1 Chronicles, a conversation King David had with his son, Solomon. In chapter 28:5 he begins by saying, “And of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons) He has chosen my son, Solomon…” I can hear the pride in this man’s heart over his sons. God has given my father five sons and many daughters as well. King David goes on to say, “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your Father and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for The Lord Searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts (our motives). If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him,He will cast you off forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.” (1 Chronicles 28:5- 9)
This is a powerful statement that David is making to his son. We can all learn just about everything we need to know for life from this one statement! I want to end by saying, “Happy Fathers day!” to my dad and to all the dads out there. He has given me much to be thankful for. Please let me take a moment to tell you about my father. I am his name sake. And that makes me happy. My dad can play the piano, everything Chopin ever wrote and more. I love Chopin myself and if I played the piano, I would most definitely strive to be able to say and do the same! At 84 years old, he plays racquet ball! I too love this sport. It’s fun because it’s like playing trigonometry while running around a court! My father is a Pulmonary Specialist (that’s a lung specialist). He personally rescued me when I was mis-diagnosed and had pneumonia in my very early 30’s. I truly almost died. It was consolidated pneumonia and water was trickling down the inside of my lungs. I was in bed 3 months and on a lawn chair bundled up in the sun for even longer. I could always call my father in an emergency when we both lived in upper Westchester County, NY and I could count on him to tell me what to do. I wish I had listened to my father more growing up. (I recently told him that.) He wanted me to be a doctor and I wanted that too (for five… no, ten minutes, like most kids). My father and I are a lot alike in many ways; he loves God and strives to know Him as I do and of course we share a love for music and history and learning! I think I got that from him.
Before I close, I must say that every day is a happy Fathers day with my Heavenly Father. He adores me and even loves me the best! I’m willing to share Him but only because I’m confident that He loves me so much!! If you need a father, boy have I got a great ‘Abba- Daddy’ and He is always looking for more kids! Call me if you would like his number; I’ve got a trunk line!
“Call to Me, I’ll answer thee and I will show you great and mighty things!” Jeremiah 33:3