I guess it’s about time I talk about my Dad. Tonight marks one month since I went to the hospital and saw my old world was gone forever. I still can’t spend too long on this now, but I have reached a point I can talk about what my Dad meant to me, in brief.
My Dad was such an amazing mirror of my heavenly Father that I to this day don’t understand how people can have a right idea of God without having a Dad that reflects him so well. That’s because, while my Dad had many qualities (humor, witty, courageous, exemplary leader, intelligent, wise (not the same thing)) the trait that I would say marked him the most was that he was full of Grace. And that came from his Father in heaven.
Grace, based on what I hear, is probably not what many would have thought would be my Dad’s defining trait if they knew him as a boy or as a youth. He had an explosive temper in his younger days, and often used his own intelligence for less than noble pursuits. Not that my Dad was a bad kid or anything…in fact, he was favored by a strict leader at his school, Bro. Bass. I think his sense of humor and charm helped him a LOT with that. But, even in his young age, he developed at FACE a deep thirst for God when He got a hold of him. And this would be very evident by the time I got to know him.
My first memories are of him playing with me. Letting me “help” him build the fence in our backyard. Playing games with me. Taking me fishing. But most of all, reading to me. He read me stories like the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – complete with unique voices for every character. He would recite poetry to me in a deep, rich, rolling voice. He even found an old hawk’s talon in the woods near our home in Olive Branch and reasoned Dragons must have once flown these skies – even though he knew I was too old to believe him, because he was already old enough to love fairy tales again. And from these stories I learned admiration of the good, and both justice and pity for those who had become trapped by either circumstance or their own desires. The Gospel became like those stories – only better because it was True.
So what is Grace? I’m not going to get into some theological construct over it, because that’s not useful here, nor is there a need when my Dad so well exemplified it. Grace is refusal to compromise either Demand or Love. It’s to love unconditionally, but still hold someone to the standard as firmly as they should if the Love did depend on them meeting expectations. And my Dad lived that. He never lowered expectations for me. My Dad demanded more of me than anyone. But he never let my failure of those expectations lessen his love for me. When I met expectations, I was praised. When I did not, I was disciplined or rebuked. But though the action my Dad next carried out may change based on whether or not I met those expectations, the motivation behind it did not. And how do I know? Mostly because of how often I failed. When I failed, I was disciplined – but not punished. I know this because often my Dad was in the mess I made with me, helping me clean it up. Not for his benefit. Not for the benefit of whoever I hurt. But for mine. Because he wanted to help me find my way. I know this because when I screwed up the most, even though he might have been furious, it was when he showed the most patience and love, even while demanding I make recompense for my mistake.
And I miss him. Terribly. I miss asking his advice already. I miss laughing about funny observations. I wanted to talk to him so badly after watching the Last Jedi I couldn’t stop crying. I miss him getting to give me feedback on my writing. But most of all, I miss the person who I could most trust when I needed to measure the Worthiness and Truth of something. I know I should lean on God. And I will. But it’s so easy for my own desires to get in the way of listening to the Holy Spirit. It was so much easier to rely on a man that I knew was filled with the Holy Spirit than to make myself be still and know. But that is not an option now.
But already I have seen growth. I think that’s because, even more than my own loss, I see that the world needed more men like my Dad, not one less. And so, though I’m nowhere near as mature or wise or all the things I admired about him, I am already trying to be more like him than ever before. Things I knew I should do, or stop doing, but felt too weak, I now have new strength. It comes from a bitter source, but the bitterness is made bearable because of Hope I have in Christ concerning my Dad.
“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever in the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!” – JRR Tolkien.
Namárië, Ada….until our next meeting.