Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

I came into Father’s Day apprehensive.  My last two sessions in therapy were about how to handle this day.  I have dreaded this day every year for many years.  Trying to figure out how to interact with my dad, whether or not to get him a gift.  Do I have to spend time with him? 

A few days ago an idea popped into my head for a gift.  I stumbled upon a song he mentioned about 15 years ago by an artist I’d never heard of.  How I found it at just this time and remembered that my dad wanted that song, I will leave for you to decide.  I believe I was guided.  I’ve let God know that I am willing to do this work and He is helping me.  Showing me that He’s got my back.
I spent many hours putting together this very personal gift for my dad.  Songs from his youth on two cds.  I was starting to think Father’s Day might not be so bad.  (I also made his favorite dessert, which is traditional.)

The morning went well at home with my husband and kids.  I went to church in a good mood.  The speaker was the son of one of my dad’s best friends from a few years ago (he passed away when I was in high school, I think).  He talked about his dad, and other crusty men, and how they parent.  How they show love.  He talked about the things his dad taught him.  Many things he said touched my heart in a very personal way.  I felt a love and tenderness for my dad that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.  It was healing for me.
As I listened to him speak I realized that my dad loved me in the only way he knew how, the only way he saw modeled as he grew up.  He provided for us and prepared us for the world.  He taught his kids to be hard workers.  Teaching us independence was important to him.  Teaching us to help others.  To be good people.  He never learned how to be tender.

In that moment, I felt impressed that I could be the one to teach him how to love me.  It wasn’t modeled before him, but I can model it.
Part of that is learning how to speak up when he says or does something unkind.  I need to be able to tell him when he hurts my feelings.  Something to work on in therapy.

I went up to his house determined to lead.  I can choose the relationship I have with him now no matter what relationship we had in the past.  Choosing a good relationship now doesn’t mean the past doesn’t matter, just that I don’t have to live there anymore.
I walked in and went right over and gave him a hug (I could count the number of hugs we’ve ever shared on one hand).  I presented him with his treat and then his gift.  He was receptive to all my offerings.  It was a good moment.

I don’t think I’m through it all.  There is still some fear that I struggle with.  And this was a good mood day for both of us.  But I feel like it’s more important than ever that I heal this.  I used to wish I could put off doing my therapy work regarding him until he was dead.  That would be easier.  Then I realized I needed to do it now for my own peace of mind.  Now I understand that if I am going to help him learn to show love in a way his family can feel, then I need to hurry.  He’s a healthy 70-years old, but our time is still limited.
Our Sunday School lesson was on having that mighty change of heart.  Letting Christ change us.  Choosing to give away all our sins to know God.  And sometimes beating our head against the brick wall to help someone change because we are being prompted to keep trying.

Our Young Women lesson was on forgiveness.  Letting go of hurts and insults is for us, to heal us.  And as we do, we can model for others.  Maybe they will see our behavior and our joy and seek to find it for themselves.  Forgiving others brings us peace.  And serving those who have wronged us helps us forgive them.
Everywhere I turned today was something guiding me toward healing my relationship with my dad.  This was not a day of coincidences.  This was God saying, “Keep going.  I’m with you all the way.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sharing Spiritual Experiences

I've always known God was there.  Not some mystical, magical, undefined being.  A person who cared for me.  A person who protected me.  A person who loved and valued me.

For as long as I can remember.  He was there.  Not in some abstract way, a sense without definition.  In a way that just felt natural.  That felt secure.

I had my first intensely personal experience with God when I was very young.  I was aware of a relationship with God at an early age.  Before I knew who or what God was, before I understood what it meant.

But I don't share that with people.

Because once I started to learn how the world worked I understood that it wasn't safe for me to do so.

I grew up going to church.  We asked a blessing at meal time.  That was about the extent of religion in my house.  An occasional attempt at a religious lesson.  Choose the right.  Do unto others.

But no God.  We go to church, but we aren't those peopleDon't take the religion thing too farDon't get all self-righteous.

I learned early that discussing spirituality was not acceptable.  To even discuss God or ask a question about Christ or scriptures was inviting ridicule.  Any attempt I made to be righteous was seen as self-righteous judgment of those around me.  Was seen as holier than thou.

When you feel something so deeply, and have it mocked regularly, it hurts.  It is damaging.  It shuts you down and you learn to keep those thoughts and experiences to yourself.

But I have those experiences for a reason.  The back and forth communication I have with God is not for me alone.  The miracles in my life are not just to convince me.

It took me so long to understand this.  To find my way past the blocks that were placed in my life by judgmentality.  To see that the real power in my spiritual experiences comes when I share them.  When I listen to my heart, see that a person's desire is sincere, and share what I know.

The adversary loved it when I was too scared to share.  He wanted me silent because my words could bring others to God.

I am done being silent.  I am ready to sing praises.  I am ready to proclaim truth.

God lives.  He knows me and loves me.  He is mindful of me.  And of you.  He cares what happens in my life.  He guides my life.  God still works miracles today.

And I refuse to be silent about Him ever again.