Bittersweet

I wanted to be bitter.  I let myself feel resentment as I sat in church yesterday.  Yesterday was painful.  I didn’t want to face yesterday.  Father’s Day – a day of celebrating your dad.  Sure I could celebrate the memories I have but today that just didn’t cut it.

I wanted Dad to be here in person.  I wished he were here filling the void, chasing away the empty ache.  I thought about the fun I used to have picking out a perfect Father’s day card for him and how he loved the cards he got from his children.  I thought about how we always got together as a family Father’s Day weekend to celebrate Father’s day and Dad’s birthday.

And I thought about the injustice of it all that some of the grandchildren will have no personal recollection of their grandpa.  I resented the fact that I was cheated out of years of advice for life that my others siblings got from him.

I sat in church and heard everyone refer to Father’s day and I wondered if the youth around me knew just how privileged they were to still have their dads.  I wondered if they appreciated their dads’ stability and protection and wisdom or if they, like me at their age, totally took their dad for granted and didn’t realize how special their dads are.

But then I also thought of all the children who don’t know who their dads are.  And I thought of those who wish they didn’t know their dads because of what awful abuse they’ve received from their dads. And then I knew that I had to allow gratitude to flood my heart instead of bitterness and resentment.  Gratitude that God had given me the kind of dad who I would sorely miss when he was gone.  And that’s when the day become not just bitter but also sweet.  I had memories of a dad who loved me, who took time for me, who showed me what it means to live entirely for Jesus.

I remembered the times he took me fishing and patiently pulled the fishing line out of the trees numerous times when as a little tyke, I was learning to cast.  I thought of the times he took me along on the truck and how he always stopped for ice cream or an iced tea.  I thought of when he helped me learn to ride bike.  And then of the time he brought home my first brand new bike at the ripe old age of 4.  And how when I wrecked it on my first trial run, he didn’t yell at me for the forever bent wheel but instead straightened it the best he could and comforted my distress.  I remembered how I was bursting with pride when he taught me how to drive his two cylinder John Deeres and then how to operate the wheel loaders.  I remembered the many landscaping projects he helped me do and took time to explain the principles instead of just doing it himself.

I had lots of good memories flooding my pain-filled heart, but I also had remorse for the too many times that I bumped heads with Dad and let my temper rule the relationship.  I can rest in the fact though that yes we had our heated disagreements but we always reconciled after duking it out.

Even with all the good memories my day was still painful and I still longed to have Dad in person, to hear his voice, his whistle, and to see his smile once again.  To hear his wit and revel in his laughter, to hash things out with him and soak in his wisdom and insight.   I knew that my pain would only abate after I’d give my heavenly Father the bitter anger and resentment for my loss and allow Him to comfort my grief and catch my tears in His outstretched hands.  And when I allowed my grief-ravaged heart to rest in His presence, He was faithful in coming alongside of me and strengthening me in the midst of my pain and loss.

I don’t know what it is that you may be grieving right now or what pain you may be facing but I urge you to go to your Father with it all.  He promises that He is there for us:
“The Lord who created you says: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….You are honored and I love you.'” (Isa 43:1-3,4b NLT)
Neither is He untouched by your grief.
“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”  (Psalm 56:8 NLT)

A song for my dad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7IbQyG9PL4

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