Growing up, I watched him open Father’s Day cards like a classic North American dad and I told him I loved him on a weekly/monthly basis. Probably. If you don’t count a few of the teen years.
I didn’t really know he was anything special.
And then I climbed further into adulthood and into the intense job called Parenthood.
There is nothing like spending a week with sick children to make you gush over your own mother and nothing like screwing up conversations with your teenager to help you appreciate your own dad.
Was he perfect? Not a chance.
But the older I get, the better he was.
Maybe what I savor the most is what he taught me about my Other Dad.
In honor of Father’s Day and dads all over the world, here are
Three Unconventional Ways my Dad Modeled God:
I know disputes aren’t the mark of a happy home. But I am convinced of their merit. Hear me out.
My dad and I are both blessed with a thousand opinions a minute. We are both first-borns who are accustomed to bossing and influencing. We both have loud voices and love to talk. Growing up, my less confrontational mother would worry about our souls and disappear into the kitchen to clean something. Bless her.
My dad taught me something very important in those “discussions,” as I would hurl a statement at him and he would catch it and lob it back:
I was heard.
My words did not merely enter my dad’s ears, but my thoughts and ideas were processed and weighed. They had meaning and dad was careful to value them. Even if he shouldn’t have cared what I thought about the consequences for my sass-mouthing, he made believe like he did.
If my opinions, thoughts and feelings were valuable to my dad, than I can believe without hesitancy that they are valued by God too.
God hears me.
One of my first jobs was working for my dad at a large restaurant he managed. On Thursdays, he would leave early to run errands and I would ride with him in the grey work van to pick up dishwasher parts and industrial-sized spatulas.
With my feet on the dash, I would ask him about balls and strikes and the Gospel accounts of Jesus, how the stock market worked and why animals stink as they decay. All in the first twenty minutes.
I was a joy.
Not only did I question him about the MLB, but about why he believed what he did and why he made up unnecessary rules for me and why I couldn’t and why he wouldn’t.
Because of his responses, I have come to believe that God is never put off or offended by our rudest questions. Not our wonderings of his existence or his actions or his Scriptures. I think, rather, that he is proud of our bravery to voice them.
God invites my questions.
As a teenager, I would enter our living room and pick on my dad and trash talk him, until he would finally push himself out of his recliner and give me what I was asking for: a fight.
The only way I could (almost) pin him, was if I got my dad laughing. I really didn’t stand a chance.
But that wasn’t really the point, was it?
The idea of God coming near has always been believable for me. An intimate God who gets all up in my business? Of course he does. What is he going to do? Stay seated in his chair? God wants to interact with me; he is the farthest thing from distant I can imagine.
God is available and engaged.
As I continue to get to know God as an adult, and we go ever deeper in our relationship, there are many things about him that I am completely confident in. No logic could convince me otherwise. I know him in my heart of hearts.
And some of those pieces, I owe to the man who raised me.
To all the dads out there, slightly imperfect and rough around the edges, kind and tough, protective and hairy,
H A P P Y F A T H E R ‘ S D A Y !
Thank you for modeling God to your kids.
What about you? In what ways, conventional or not-so-much, has your dad shown you what God is like? We would all love to hear it!
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