Today is my dad’s birthday.
For almost my entire life, I’ve only known my dad from afar. When I was very young, he moved to Texas in search of work. Our small town on Lake Superior had nothing to offer unless you were going to work for the railroad or the grain elevators. My dad found what he was looking for in Texas and has since retired there. Back then, we didn’t have the internet and Facebook to keep us connected. It was letters and occasional phone calls and even less frequent visits, as those were pretty expensive for our family.
Both of my parents were raised in the Catholic church and attended Catholic schools. My mom took me to the required CCD classes, but my dad was the driving force behind it…at least for awhile. I think there came a point that my mom didn’t care what my dad thought anymore and she quit fighting with us. He wasn’t around to deal with us as we argued the many reasons why my brothers and I really didn’t want to go to those classes.
Today I know of some Catholic people with a firm faith, but my experience was not of that. As a kid, the nuns seemed angry…again, I am not lumping everyone together. This was my experience of them. They yelled a lot and sent people out of the class. In all actuality, this may have been an isolated incident, but it’s all I remember about my Catholic upbringing.
What I did learn through this time is that being a Christian was about following a set of rules – you do this, don’t do this, you say a few hail marys, come to church on Christmas and Easter and you’re good to go.
I could be a good rule follower…if I wanted to be.
Through the years my dad would mail me “Jesus literature”. A bible, a cross necklace, books. All of which I cherished, while in the back of my mind calling him a hypocrite for leaving me. God doesn’t abandon his children. At some point during my adult rebellion, I think he gave up reaching out. I like to think he never quit praying for me.
My relationship with my dad – from as old as I can remember until a few years ago – was like riding a rollercoaster. I doubted his love for me. I hated him for leaving me. Yet I still longed to be his little girl. I always wanted that daddy/daughter relationship you hear about…where dad would be at the door with a shot gun when I was going to go on a date…or being taught how to hunt…or camp.
I didn’t even know my dad. In fact, I still really don’t know him. What makes him tick? What is his favorite dessert? How far I can push him before I get him mad?
There are some bits and pieces I do know about my dad. One cool thing I learned is that he was awarded a bronze star for his service in the Army in Vietnam…something he’s never spoken to me about.
I do know that I was truly loved by him.
Today is his birthday. And he’s very ill. I haven’t seen my dad since that Halloween weekend in 2009, and I will likely never see him alive again. My heart hurts at that thought but I don’t need to see him again. And I don’t think he needs to see me either.
We have our peace.
If this is the last thing my dad ever hears me say, I want to publicly thank him for praying for me.
Dad, on your birthday, God used me to lead one of His lost sheep home. I’m on His path and He is using me for His Kingdom. Thank you for your prayers and for loving me in the best way you knew how. More than my hopes and prayers that you know I love you, are my hopes and prayers that you know the unfailing grace God offers, that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and that we will be reunited in our new bodies in Heaven.
(Photo: My dad and I in 2009)
Friends, if you are suffering with pain from abandonment from a parent in childhood, God wants to heal you!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8