The Spectrum of Fatherhood

Four years ago, I lost my Dad. I never imagined that I would gain a greater Father in return.

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Whenever we would have life talks, my Dad would always end the conversation with, “this is not a sermon, this is just a thought.” It was his way of reminding me that although he could not control my decisions, I should, at minimum, listen to his opinion beforehand.

My Dad was never the type to tell me what to do. He would infer certain decisions but once I turned 18, he got out the way. It wasn’t smooth at first, never was. I was his first child off to college, his first away from home. He couldn’t watch over me, he couldn’t interrogate me about my whereabouts. He had to trust that I would make the right decision, even when he knew he couldn’t save me from it.

That’s why he was my clean up man for a long time. I never felt strong consequences. While he would dole out punishment, I never felt like it was the end of the world. Even after our biggest arguments, he would later come downstairs and ask me what I wanted for dinner. In ways, it taught me that mistakes are not death sentences. Once you learn your lesson and show remorse for what you have done, you can continue on.

I’m learning that now more than ever now that he is no longer here. My Dad passed away four years ago due to complications from paralysis and kidney failure. Losing him left the biggest void I could ever imagine. Amid the void, the greatest of it involved his security, his care. He really looked out for me even when it annoyed me. Even at 24 years old, he would get mad when I would stay out late (I often had to call him before I did anything — if not, he would wait up for me to get home).

As much as that ruffled my self-adopted independent feathers, I can honestly say that I miss that more than ever. I miss someone being so angry when I jeopardize my own safety. I miss someone calling me because they want to know that I’m okay. I miss his constant reminders to be safe, the little nudges to make the right decisions.

I miss my Dad being the searchlight in front of me to make sure that I don’t fall.

It took me four years of making mistakes, learning lessons, projecting stubbornness, displaying remorse, asking for forgiveness and being extremely grateful for grace and mercy to make me realize that I had a father with me during the years since.

That father was God.

God looked out for me in ways that would take years to explain. In short, when I didn’t always make the right choices, He never let me go. I had to learn from them — and learn, I did — but He never gave up on me or said that I didn’t deserve to move on. He never abandoned me even when I did everything in my power to give Him the right to do so.

And listen, I did everything.

For me to still be here, to still have been given chances to do right and be right is the epitome of a Father’s forgiveness.

I’m very open about my life since my Dad passed away. My vices were unlimited, my mistakes were many. Good relationships were soiled, bad ones were allowed to grow. I put my own life in danger, I put others in danger. I cared about others but not enough to extend it to myself. Homelessness, alcoholism. I’m surprised I still have friends at this point. In short, it was not pretty.

And yet, God allowed for me to make those mistakes, to learn from them and still be here.

With a place to stay, a church family that supports me. Opportunities for growth, opportunities to pursue my passions. A second chance to be who God made for me to be.

Sometimes, I feel as if I’m not worthy of it all. When I am in a positive space, brings me to a level of humility that I cannot explain. Because I would have understood if God tossed his hands up and said “forget it”.

But that’s not a part of His character. It also wasn’t a part of my father’s character. And God knew that and my Dad did too.

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined — and everyone undergoes discipline — then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7–12 NIV)

My father raised me to be careful, courteous and kind for my own good. God continues to teach me these lessons for His good and mine.

I used to mourn the loss of my Dad. At times, I still do. But I realized that he never left me. I still carry on his lessons and God just refined them and allows for me to share His lessons.

I gained another Father. Thanks to what I thought was the loss of mine. But I do still have them both. And I forever grateful for their guidance and wisdom that placed me here.

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