[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]A[/mk_dropcaps]s I write today, it is father’s day. It has been a year and 3 months since my father passed away. A lot has changed and transformed in that period of time. I know much more will change but days like this trigger a new perspective. This day is full of posts on social media of people’s fathers or fathers of their children, it seems to amplify my loss. I know it's not people’s intention, but it brings an awareness of my loss. It shows where I am in the grieving process. It prompts deeper reflection on what I had, where I am and what I want the future to hold. I am sure that for many of you can relate though your story is different than mine. Today, the last big act my father did to show his love for me has floated to the surface of my mind. It is one that is difficult for me to share, and not because of what my father did, but my reaction. It shows my flaws and deep insecurities, even when given such a generous gift. I share it with you as I believe there are quite a few of you who can relate to my response.
Now the story:
This all came about when my parents sold our family home of 38 years. It was where my older sister and I were born; the backdrop of our family's story. It was the building that held all the memories of our childhood. It was almost like a member of the family being a part of all the preparation for dance recitals, swim meets, high school dances, graduations, birthday celebrations and all the milestones, pain and joy we walked through along the way.
That house held a lot of the dreams we had of what the future would hold for our family. Letting it go required a mourning period as we let those dreams die as we let the house go. But what I know is when we release things dear to us, our Lord restores and resurrects those dreams to something far above what they once were.
It was in that state of mourning when my father, so aware of his own mortality due to his physical condition, decided to bless me. Even before they spent the money from the sale on anything else my father made a point to give me a significant chunk with his blessing to use it for my future wedding. He had been able give my two older sisters a set amount of money for their weddings and he wanted to be sure to bless me as much as he had them. I see how much my father, with so many other limitations, wanted to set my value. He wanted to ensure that I felt seen in a time where so many bigger and life threatening events were taking our focus. He knew it was something I would walk through in the future. Yet in that moment I could not see it happening regardless of how much I wanted it. Discouragement had blocked out my hope.
All I could see was my lack. The credit card debt I had acquired. The poor choices with men from the past. The goals I’d set in life that would turn to near misses. Surely this money would be better served to pay for past mistakes? Then maybe I’d "have it together” and be ready for that special someone. Then I’d be able to move forward toward my dreams. You can always earn more money right? I thought it best to use that money to pay off some credit debt I had accrued. That would make me hopeful for marriage again.
Praise God for the council of a cherished friends! As I was sharing this story with one of my friends she challenged me that keeping the money was an act of faith. That one day, sooner than I expect, I will need it and for the intended purpose my dad gave it to me. Why did I struggle to receive it for what it was intended for? I realized that to spend it on something other than what it was intended for was showing my severe lack of faith. It was hard to believe in my Dad’s certainty that I’d have my dreams fulfilled. But I decided to hold onto the money I still had, which felt almost as reckless as my spending that got me into debt. At this point, almost half of the money had gone to pay off debt. I had acted without any council. I did save the rest with the vow to pay back every dollar I took once my debt was paid. The more I think of this final big act of love toward me, by my father, the more my sense of worth grows. His act of faith overshadowed the nagging of my fears.
What I don’t want you to miss, this story are a few issues and truths I had to face.
- I had to see that my father gave to me not because I believed I was deserving, but because he was showing me the standard of my value and worth. That is why the role of a father in children’s lives is crucial. They help us lay the foundation of our value and worth. In a world that often measures what we do as what we are worth. Our heavenly father takes it to another level not just modeling what we are worth by what He was willing to pay for us but by transferring His grace and inheritance to us.
- Even with how generous my dad’s act was, he was a fallible man. He fell short in his role as a father and his responsibilities. He did his very best, I see that in his tenacity. But God showed me if my father can give so lavishly, how much more He wants to shower me with love and affection! If I can’t receive the imperfect love of my father how can I receive the purest love from Jesus? I have more of a problem with receiving love than a problem with not being loved.
- Am I willing to save, to hold onto the love and blessing my heavenly father poured out on me in faith for the future? If I can’t even accept money, even a generous amount, how can I fully accept the never ending and extravagant gift of salvation and reconciliation from Jesus? His gift was given to me not just to cover and clear my past mistakes though that was addressed on the cross. But as a promise of what is coming in the future! This gift from our Lord knows no end, it is permanent and irreversible. It is too good to be true but still is.
I still struggle to receive love from our Lord. I believe that is something we are to always feel overwhelmed and in awe of because of its incredible generosity. What is even more amazing is the fact God wants to remind and renew His love for us every single day. My dad helped me begin to see my value. I will hold fast to this experience for the rest of my life. For you it may be someone or something else that God uses to teach you. Why not make it our mission to love so deeply we help others get this?
It starts with being willing to serve generously. I do not have to sit in a room by myself and contemplate the extravagance of God’s love, but rather I receive HIs love more and more as I become a conduit for it. It often does not come when and how we thought it would, but when it does it is far beyond the blessing and love you were expecting. When we serve, we affirm our divine value because it is too much for one person to contain. It must be shared. The problem today is there is so much brokenness in the world and few who have encountered this kind of love to the point of service. It is love that DOES that brings joy into our lives. I don’t know about you but I want more love and joy in my life and I have to decide every day to go back to “school” to learn to receive love and spread it all over again.
Want to know the best part of doing this? As you seek to learn more about your divine value, the more value you give to others, the more value you will have to spread. Well it is back to school for me.