DAD STORIES: memories from a man who got it right
I’ve told you about my dad— how, without actually meaning to, he’s shaped my faith in God.
(my daughter, Rebekah and my dad)
My dad has shown me in his own way— in his way with me, how the Father is.
How He loves…
How He welcomes…
How He wants to be with me on those early, intimate mornings.
Because of Dad, trusting God has been, if not exactly easy, at least simple for me.
One night, many years ago, when my old nemesis, Fear, started to choke the joy out of my daily life, the memories of my dad’s way with me broke those chains…
It was late and I lay in bed wide-awake. Alone and afraid.
My husband traveled as a part of his job in those days, sometimes for weeks at a time. On this night he was an ocean way, unavailable, unreachable, unable to calm me down or cheer me up. I’d suffered the insomnia of fear every night he was gone.
Too exhausted to sleep, too afraid to allow myself to rest, my façade of courage was crumbling.
My fear teetered towards terror.
A deaf woman alone at night with three children sleeping blithely in their bedrooms— every possibility presenting itself in colored array as I desperately prayed those demons away.
What if someone breaks in the house? Would I hear them? No.
What if there’s a fire? Would I hear the alarm? No.
What if someone big and mean and bad comes barging in the front door… no, no, no!
I can’t hear! I can’t protect my children! I can’t be safe!
I sat awake, hearing aids at full volume, baseball bat at hand.
I prayed, of course.
Desperate liturgies for protection: for angels, for hedges, for walls and warriors to watch over me.
And I laugh a little now, but at the time, that helplessness felt immensely more real than any assurances of the safety of my neighborhood or the ridiculousness of my fears.
Yet still…in spite of the unreasonableness of my angst, God brought Himself into my runaway fears.
Instead of scoffing: You’re a grown-up, Di, get over it!
Instead of shame: Where’s your faith?
Instead of platitudes: Angels are watching over you…
He reminded me of my dad.
Every night when I was growing up, my dad walked through our house just before going to bed. He checked doors, turned down the heater, closed windows, peeked in on each of us kids.
Making the rounds like a night watchman.
Making sure I was safe.
Making me feel safe.
Never once, in all my years at home did I beg Dad to take care of me. I didn’t plead for protection from the invisible bad guys. Didn’t remind him to lock up. Didn’t keep a baseball bat close just in case.
I didn’t need to ask for protection because I slept close to my protector.
God, I realized, is just like my dad!
In fact, I began to suspect that all my begging might be an insult to Him. Of course He’s watching over me!
Instead of desperate rituals of praying for angels to surround me, instead of walking through every worry, and making sure He knew all about how He should handle it, and why, and what I wanted Him to do…
Maybe I should just thank Him for all the nights He’d watched over me.
Just like Dad.
Years and years and decades of nights. No bad guys, no break-ins, no monsters under the bed.
Just my great big God watching over me while I slept.
I drifted off to sleep that night whispering thanks.
And every night after that, whenever the reality of being a deaf woman alone started to feel unsafe, whenever fear threated to keep me up, I felt that grip of safe assurance— of my Father being just like my dad—steady, dependable, present.
He loved me… just like Dad.
He was up to the task of taking care of me… just like Dad.
I could practically feel Him locking up tight, making the rounds, checking in to be sure I was okay… just like my Dad.
My dad spent all my growing up years watching over me. Sometimes in simple ways like locking up at night. Sometimes in harder-to-swallow ways like restricting my freedom lest my naivete leave me unprotected.
I wasn’t always grateful. I didn’t always understand. I wasn’t always nice about not understanding. In fact, he could tell you stories about me not being nice or grateful or understanding…
But that didn’t stop him.
Because my dad cared enough to take care of me… and so does my Father.
From my heart,
THINGS MY DAD GOT RIGHT:
1. He watched over me.
2. He was there— down the hall, next to mom, no matter what.
3. He didn’t mock my fears.
4. He kept watching over me even when I didn’t think I needed him.
5. He showed me what the Father is like.
P.S. Have you learned some things about the Father from your dad? Can you tell us what?
Or are you just now learning that the Father is different than the way your dad was to you? That He loves in a way your dad was not able to love?