I was thinking about this the other day as I contemplated my relationship with God. How was my relationship to God molded and formed by my relationship to my Dad?
When I was about 13 I flew to Houston for one of my many visits to see my Dad. He and Mom had divorced by the time I was barely 2.5 so that was the norm my whole life. The thing was, the bonding had already taken place and nothing was ever going to change that.
I have vivid memories of Dad holding my hand tightly. We would go to Galveston Bay during the summer. One day, he took me out into the waves (which were much bigger and stronger than me and my little toddler body). Suddenly what appeared to be a massive wave over came me. I tossed and turned under water powerless in the chaos; the waves forcing me in one direction, then another, and another.
But the thing I’ll never forget is that my father never let go.
He never let go of my little hand. He held on tight. Strong. His grip held fast. He even lifted me as the waves attempted to take control. He lifted me up and out of that underwater mini nightmare that I was powerless to prevail against on my own.
And then I was once again above the waves. Safe with Dad.
Later, I sat with Dad at 13 years old in a Texas old style BBQ joint with all the awkwardness that can only come with the onset of the teenage years. Yet I was unprepared for this awkwardness. We sat across from each other, eating fries between us. Not talking. And this memory is just as significant as the waves. But this was so very… strange. Who is this guy? Why isn’t Daddy talking to me? Did I do something? I somehow knew there was nothing inherently wrong but why was it so… silent?
My dad died soon after that when I reached just near the end of 15 years. Heart attack. We got one week with him in the hospital. Then he was gone forever.
We bonded early. Nothing could separate my hand from his. He took me everywhere. Even to work with him. (He was a salesman. I still remember the smell of the printing presses.) He told his co-workers I was the apple of his eye. I didn’t even know what that meant until I gleaned from the smiles and the pride. But there were long pauses in our formation together. Long, “school year”, pauses. 10, sometimes, 11 months of not seeing Dad. A blip at Christmas sometimes. But a true bond will not be eradicated by space and time.
Fast forward to a gawky girl who has just gotten her new contacts and braces off but still acts as if she still wears them. And now Dad isn’t talking like he used to…. Pauses between visits. Then poof.
And how did that affect my relationship with God?
I muse this much.
Where in my relationship to the Father do I feel like an awkward 13 year old and He is silent? And is that where my understanding of the Father’s love stalled in my life?
What seasons of you life have you felt that awkwardness, an inability to speak or to express your feelings to God? Or are there times when, like a 13 year old just on the cusp of young adulthood, you don’t even know what your feelings are, let alone express them to the one you know, (you hope), loves you so well?
If only I’d had the awareness to tell Dad that, well, I felt… “weird.” But you, know…teenagers.
The difference here is that when it comes to awkwardness with God…He’ll take it. He’ll take all that we’ve got. His bond never breaks. And in case you’re wondering about that awkward silence… it’s all love on His end.
I am so grateful for Dad’s strong pull in the waves. That he gave me that memory first. He was there, would always be there and would never let me go. And I would be able to cling to that truth no matter what came after.
Cling to the truth that you are loved. That the Father loves you so. That he will never ever let go. And that you can come to him with everything, including the awkwardness of a teen, or the never ending list of nouns and adjectives as an adult.
And He will speak…even in his awesome silence. And you are not to be afraid.
*Biologically my Grandfather. But really, that’s just picking nits. A Dad is a Dad.