That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…
*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post
Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.
I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.
I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.
It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.
I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.
And then one day I finally submitted…
I was done with a mediocre faith and self-centered ways, and ready for an authentic Christ-centered life. I finally got real about my relationship with Jesus and found hope and purpose.
As I reflect back to my years at home (growing up) I see what a heavy influence a parent has in a child’s life. My dad was our provider and we depended on him significantly—his knowledge, his choices, and his ways.
Yes my dad loved us like crazy, yes he took us to church before he began coming himself, yes he believed in God BUT putting God first in his life was disregarded.
It was my mom who purposefully and consciously directed me to God later on in our lives after my father’s death (once I had a family of my own); HOWEVER my dad was helping plant that seed every time he’d drop my mom, brothers, and me off at church so many years ago when I was just a young girl.
Such a remarkable gift.
He may not have been interested in going at that time in his life, but you bet he made darn sure he got my mom, and the boys and I to church because he knew it meant so much to my mother. And ultimately he knew the importance of going…The thought of that precious memory sends this daughter’s heart racing.
These days as I raise my own children, I’m challenged to set ground rules that follow an example of Jesus. It’s up to my husband and me to parent in a way that points to Christ and exposes our children to a life of faith in Him.
I never want my kids to have their “come to Jesus moment” when their life is half over (or even ten years from now) and feel the heavy guilt of a life far from Christ. I want them to experience the fullness of joy found (only) in Him right now, during their years at home with their dad and me. I want to witness their love and excitement for Jesus. And from what I’ve seen so far, they’re on the right road. They’re understanding and believing what took me almost thirty years to finally follow and grasp whole-heartedly.
I’ve learned how incredibly important it is to make every moment count. These short years that my kids spend in my home will impact them for the rest of their lives. We parents are a big deal in a kid’s life and what we believe and share with our children heavily influences them. The same is true for any adult involved in a child’s life.
I don’t hold it against my father that he wasn’t more serious about God. I know, firsthand, that the Christian faith, true fellowship, and a genuine relationship with Christ all take deep commitment. It’s not an easy road for sure, but it’s worth it.
I believe, given more time, my dad would’ve committed to making God top priority. He was strong-willed and once he got the knack of something he did it with diligent obedience. And although my dad wasn’t ever able to see me love Jesus passionately, I know (without a doubt) he would’ve been proud.
I’m thankful my kids have a daddy who loves as good as my dad did. They’re guaranteed to have such sweet memories when they look back over the years.
I realize not everyone has experienced the blessings of a healthy relationship with their dad, we live in a fallen world; but there’s a Father in Heaven who willingly and graciously picks up the broken pieces of a heart—mending and filling it with His unconditional love. That’s the love of our Heavenly Father and it’s readily available to all who are willing to accept that wild and free love.
Romans 5:8 – God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I miss my dad as much today as I did the day he died, some days it hurts more than others. I wish, more than anything, I would’ve been able to watch him play with his grandkids, but that’s something that’s not going to happen this side of Heaven.
I have to remind myself that God has a purpose for all things, even when it doesn’t make sense or it seems unfair.
…The ways of the Lord I don’t always understand, but no matter what, I must always trust what He has planned.