I’m generally fashionably late.
So brace yourself for this shocker. My Father’s Day musings, they’re early.
Last night, the baby and her new buddy stood out the back of the Grand Haven trolley on our inaugural ride of the season. After it circled the beach, we climbed the hill past the cemetery and she waved at Grandma and Grampsy, their boxes tucked under a mature pine a few hundred yards away.
And I thought about my dad.
Does a day ever go by when I don’t?
He was the most influential broken-beautiful man to touch my formative story.
My dad, they cut him clear round his shoulder blades in a C. I’d trace the scars with my finger tip when I was just a wee girl. Those C shaped scars, they shaped him. He and God got intimately acquainted quarantined in a tuberculosis sanitorium for three solid years. Those scars molded him into a man of prayer and a man of fear.
Scars are like that—two sided coins.
Prayer defined his daily rhythm and fear of loss, illness, hunger and risk, it held a vice grip on his spirit.He spent so much energy worrying, he was stuck.
And he grumbled.
And sometimes he lost his temper.
Those flaws, they hurt me. They left me with my own scars, not the kind you can trace though.
The truth is, all families are broken.
My family was broken.
I don’t name it to shame my parents or blame them either.
I name it because the truth sets me free.
I name it so I can love my parents authentically for who they actually were, each with their own rumpled stories, rather than for who I pretend they were.
All young children re-create their family story to make it “right”. Developmentally, they have to. God didn’t equip their brains and emotions to process the pain of what’s real. So in their heads, they make their family normal and loving and OK, even if they aren’t. And they are loyal to the make-believe parents they’ve created. Maturing equips people to let go of photo shopped parents and engage the original image, with all of its blemishes.
When our affection is informed by truth, it can mature into real love instead.
My family, it’s broken too.
I’ve brought my own baggage into my kids stories.
And so has their Daddy.
They’re growing up now, wandering through their own desert in Egypt trying to trade an image of parental love for the genuine article.
And the thing is, we’re all really just taking the next step, best as we know how, learning to love each other in sincerity and with authenticity.
My dad did.
My kids are.
There’s a song. (There always is….)
Makes me think of my dad and our shared journey:
I was maybe 12 months old, holding on couches, letting go.
Waving my arms, trying to walk in that old video.
You were reaching out your hands, telling me to take a chance.
You never left my side and never let me go and then you said to me…
One more step, one more try, any moment you will find,
Your falling less and standing more
Soon you’ll run on this kitchen floor.
It won’t be long just hold on, try your best.
One more step.
Time flies like my heart that day, my whole world about to change.
I had my borrowed, had my blue and a boy had my heart.
You told me don’t forget the ring… try to soak in everything.
Standing by my side you whispered, “Look at where we are.”
One more step down this aisle I will cry and you will smile.
The little girl that once was mine,
I walk you now to your new life.
The future is as bright as your white dress.
One more step.
Always happens way too soon, doctor leaves a quiet room.
The first to find your voice you said, I’m ready to go.
You asked me what I thought it’s like, leaving this whole world behind.
Standing by your side I said, you already know.
One more step, blink your eyes and you’ll be home on the other side.
Running down the golden streets, you’ll hear a million angels sing.
One more kiss on earth is all that’s left.
Before the breath of heaven fills your chest.
You’ll finally see his face and find your rest.
One more step. (One More Step, Linsday Mc Caul)
My dad, he always reached out to catch me….
He stood by my side….
He walked me to my new life….
He just kept taking one more step…. Just like all of us parents do every day, utterly dependent on the fresh mercies of God that are always enough.
Eventually, his journey ended in the arms of Jesus. And I was holding his hand.
And thirteen years later, I still feel