Monday, June 19, 2017

Reflections on Fatherhood from a Daughter

Yesterday was Father's Day - a time to acknowledge the fathers in our lives and their contributions whether good or bad, physical, mental or spiritual - to our lives; though I do think these days are more an acknowledgment of the good and an ignoring of the bad. Life is never so binary or so simple - there's a whole spectrum between good and bad. As I talked to my father on Father's Day I was grateful that he is a presence in my life and that he's still here. Having lost two close relatives so far, death reminds me to cherish the people in my life even if they don't live up to my standards.

My father is old now and in old age, you become a certain way; some call it stubborn. Though everyone should be understanding of each other regardless of age, it seems that the older you get the understanding is not mutual. As the younger and as the child, I have to extend greater understanding to an old man who is my father.

I believe as a child I was fearful of my father as he and my mother were very strict, so I made it my point to obey and stay out of trouble. But our household was not turbulent in a horrible way; it was lively and noisy. I remember going to the beach every Saturday - all seven of us piled up in the back of a Ford Escort. At the beach, we spread our towels and played in the water. Then two to three hours later we'd spread the towel on the seat and pile back into the car and go home.  I remember the time my dad brought home a puppy which we christened Gilda, named after a hurricane. I remember our first dog Bobby who eventually had to be put to sleep because he got hit by a car. I remember my dad bringing home a box of Julie mangoes which were the sweetest thing I had ever eaten. He was happy as he watched us devour those mangoes. I remember a time when my father seemed to laugh more. I remember him going to work with pride every day and having workers from his company take us to school and then pick us up in the evening.

When we immigrated to America his disposition seemed to change - he was never able to go back to the professional level he had but in this transition, I learned from my father discipline, presence, perseverance, and stability. I got a new appreciation for "life isn't fair but you still have to live it well." Daddy didn't complain, he just did what he had to do for his family.

My father is a man of parables and few words - he says a whole lot while saying little. "You might be smart but you ain't wise" or "Marry in haste repent at leisure" or my personal favorite - "Start late, you finish late." I had to learn discernment through listening to him because everything he said was not applicable to me but his proverbs also required you to think. When I got married, I saw a different side of my dad as he walked me down the aisle. He was happy, proud and relaxed. Even then he was giving me some last bits of advice, "Take it easy, relax!; Hold on to my arm." We'd never been so close until that moment!

My dad's personality is somewhat reflected in me. He was very disciplined with his spiritual walk - every morning he woke up he had a cup of tea and he read the Bible. In the evening, we always had Family Devotions where he and my mother would lead and then we would go around in the circle reading the scripture, then he would pray and we would all kiss him and my mother good night. We did this for many years.

So I've had the presence of my earthly father all through my life but yet I've not always felt close to him though I love him dearly. I'm grateful that his presence has shaped me in ways that sometimes I don't even understand. I can't say that the void of an earthly father is replaced by a heavenly one because I've had both. But I do know my relationship with my heavenly father supersedes my earthly relationship and there is no comparison. My Heavenly Father is always there, always faithful, keeps his promises, disciplines appropriately, is holy, is a constant provider, forgives without question, and offers true freedom.

Earthly fathers will fail us; some may have abandoned us; some of us may have never known a father. I can't say I know what that feels like but I've known enough people - men and women, to whom the absence of a father has left them incomplete and troubled. And then there are those whose fathers were in their lives and they too don't quite understand their fathers and are troubled by some of their actions. The Bible gives us a picture of a heavenly Father that no human could ever live up to. My Heavenly Father is who I have chosen to anchor my life to - he never disappears, never leaves, and always understands me. I also know that the closer I am to Him, the closer he is to me. I'm grateful for the presence of my Dad and how he has impacted my life but more grateful that I'm a child of the King and that His presence brings a greater joy.

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples...... For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’" Acts 17:24-28
How was your Father's Day? What's your relationship like with your father? Is it worthwhile to compare your earthly dad to your Heavenly Father?


--Nylse

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3 comments:

  1. Beautiful post!

    Your early memories of your dad sound very much like my dad! My dad is in Ghana right now so wasn't able to celebrate him. His birthday was also yesterday so when he gets back he'll have a double celebration.

    When my mom was alive she was the one I called everyday and she'll always give the phone to my dad for me to say hello. But because she was a stay at home mom and I spent so much time with her growing up I did not really work too hard at the relationship with my dad. He's always been the funny one and the one who provided for us but he wasn't the comforter or the person you called when something bad/good happened, etc.

    Now that she is gone things have changed a bit. We've had to work on a relationship that wasn't as strong as the one I had with my mom. But I know and have always known that he is someone that I can always rely on.

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  2. I"m grateful that I can compare my dad with my heavenly Father - not perfect but steady, loving and so very supportive - embarrassingly so. I miss him!

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