Father’s Day is this Sunday. So if you haven’t bought the tie, the box of chocolates, the new briefcase or set of drill bits, you have 2 days! It’s probably too late to send a card, but set a reminder on your phone to call dad on Sunday. Rodney and I are in our freshman year at Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey and I truly have the freshman fears and frustrations so I am using the gift I have, my writing, that my Heavenly Father gave me, in order to give to my earthly father his gift. I wrote my parents letters when I was younger and slid them under their bedroom door at night. I guess that’s kinda what I’m doing now.
I have a dad unlike any other. He is tall, dark and handsome. He is a dreamer. He is a motivator. He is super smart. He has a heart of gold and a passion for those that are hurting or in need. He is sensitive and compassionate. He has always been larger than life.
We would watch M.A.S.H. together. Hawkeye, the character played by Alan Alda, that was my dad. Whenever I was away from home and missing my dad, I would watch M.A.S.H. and he would feel a little closer. Kinda like praying now to my heavenly Father. When I feel distant or scared and alone, He is as close as getting on my knees and getting quiet and He is there.
Dad and I are a lot a like. My father is passionate and courageous. He is also sensitive and emotional. He can be inpatient at times. He loves to laugh and to tell stories. He can get on his soapbox though and preach like the best of them. Yes, I am a lot like my dad. He gets overwhelmed sometimes and he gets sad. So do I. So do we all. My father’s willingness to admit it though, that’s what makes him different.
I have seen pictures of my father when he was a teenager. He and my mom married when they were 18 and 19. He was that guy. He was the handsome, funny, charismatic guy that everyone gravitated towards. And he was MY dad and I was a daddy’s girl.
I was so proud of the fact that whenever we went out somewhere my dad made everyone laugh, he told great stories, and people loved to be around him. My friends really thought he was awesome and I just looked up to him (He’s 6’3) with so much respect and admiration.
But then life happens, as it is want to do.
I became a teenager, an awkward, clumsy teenager who never felt like I was good enough. I know now I wasn’t alone but I thought I was. And my dad, he wanted so much for me to learn from his mistakes, to understand things, to see things the way he saw them because he had been there, and I just wouldn’t listen. Never. I wanted his approval but had bought into the lies that nothing I did would ever be good enough for my dad. So much of it stemmed from a lack of communication. Being afraid to speak up because what if I made him mad? What if he didn’t agree? The strong, forceful, charismatic personality also made for a man that I put so high up on a pedastal that there was no hope of me ever being able to reach him. Funny how that happens. And I walked away. No, I ran. I got married, went into the Navy, ran away from home, if that’s what you can call it, at 22. And when we run, we have a tendency to get lost and I did. But my dad. He waited and he prayed. He and my mom both did. I only understand this better now, looking back, because I have a 14-year-old daughter and she has a loud, outspoken, strong, charismatic mother, and sometimes I see glimpses of those same thoughts in her head that I had at her age. But I also understand my father better now because I want the same things for my daughter that he wanted for me. And I love her just like he loves me.
(Kenna and my dad when she was 6 weeks old. Now I understand the love he had for me when I saw the love he had for her.)
He was my first example of what it is to love someone like Christ. Because no matter what I did or the mistake(s) I made. No matter the disappointment I cast into his and my mom’s hearts, he loved me and He ALWAYS let me come home. From Tennessee to Chicago, it didn’t matter, I could call and the door was opened. He showed me over and over again, after all my mistakes and running so far away, all I had to do was stop, turn around, and say, “Daddy, I’m sorry, I wanna come home.” and he and my mom would move heaven and earth to make it so.
My dad gave me a glimpse of what God’s love is and helped lead me back to the narrow path to my heavenly Father. So daddy, Happy Father’s Day. I wish I could buy you all that your heart desires, but daddy, know that the gift you and mom gave me was the greatest one of all. You loved me, no matter what, you loved me.
In November of 2010 I went to God and asked Him, “What do I need to work on?” That is a dangerous question to ask the Lord because He knows your heart and He will tell you what He knows.
I felt very clearly in my heart that God had directed me to fast. Not to fast from food, but to fast from clothes. That did not mean He wanted me to walk around naked. Because of my weight loss I was able to shop in the “normal size” department now. I did not realize it, but my focus was not on approval from God, but approval from man, actually from women. It was not a competition. I did not want to be better than anyone, I just wanted to look good. I had never felt that before and believe me, it is hard to type it here much less admit it out loud. But God very gently, but very firmly, let me know that I was too busy seeking out approval from people on earth rather than seeking His approval. So He wanted me to fast clothing. No more shopping. It was not because buying clothes was bad, please hear me on this. It was because I was not doing it for the right reasons. I did not really think the fast was going to be a big deal. I had clothes and so I made that covenant with God. No shopping….For a year.
But God knows all things…God knows our battles before we fight them. God knows our heart. And only God knew what this journey would bring up.
I told my husband and while he thought it was a bit strange, he is married to me so nothing really surprises him anymore. I did not say anything to anyone else because this was between me and God.
A couple of days later I was doing my laundry. I had all of my unmentionables in the wash when something weird happened. The straps on the unmentionables tangled and they wrapped around the washing machine agitator. When I went to put the load in the dryer, after untangling them, all the armholes were stretched tremendously. I could put my entire body through them. This was not going to work. These unmentionables would not lift and support anything anymore.
I walked into the office with lingerie that would not last 18 seconds much less 18 hours and asked my WH (wonderful husband), “Now what do I do?” He asked if I thought God had meant no underwear in my fast? I knew in my heart that God had said ALL CLOTHES. There were no loopholes and so now what?
When I walked in she handed me a bag filled to overflowing with bras. Brand new bras. Now, NO ONE knew about my fast. No one knew about the bra fiasco from that morning except Rodney, God, and me. Rodney had not called and told anyone. I certainly had not. So that left only one, or should I say One.
After I closed my mouth and wiped the tears from my eyes, my friend asked what in the world was wrong. I then proceeded to tell her about my fast and what had happened that morning.
My friend is a breast cancer warrior. She did not just survive breast cancer, she beat it to a bloody pulp, praising Jesus and giving to others the entire time. She wound up not needing these bras so she thought I could use them. There were more bras then I had started out with and they were a lot nicer than the ones that had been lost in the battle of the washing machine war.
Here is the lesson that I learned loud and clear in that moment.
God cares about what I care about. And change has to start from the inside out, not the outside in. He stripped me of everything and now I was relying on His grace and love.
Not on myself.
Even when it comes to something no one else can see. If I had not been fasting clothes I would have gone out and bought new bras and/or my friend would have given me the bras and I never would have recognized the blessing. The bras that she gave me were better than the ones I had before and there were more of them. It reminded me of the promise in scripture,
“be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put in your bosom.”(Luke 6:38).
Yes I thought it was ironic that it mentions bosom as well. Grins.
So, in my obedience to God, I was rewarded with more than enough, better than I had, and it did not cost me anything but saying Yes to God. I would see this play out even more, some of it quite painful, but many times lessons that we have to learn start out easier and then get harder as you move forward. I did not know what was coming down the road, but God did. We will talk more about that soon.
Bras have been advertised as products that can help “lift and separate”.
Perhaps God is wanting to lift you out of something. Perhaps He wants to separate you from something that is taking your focus off of Him.
Have you asked God about areas of your life that need work?
Are you afraid to ask Him?
What if God is asking you to do something that makes no sense at all? How willing are you to follow His lead?
When you hear God asking you to trust Him and step away from something, even when it does not make sense, how do you respond?
Its part of a study I am doing and this week we are talking about forgiveness. I have learned a lot during this journey but this is truly the hardest lesson of all to learn and to continue learning because human nature is not big on forgiveness. We get forgiveness from God because of Jesus Christ. He paid for our sins. He took on our guilt and our punishment so that we could have a relationship with our heavenly father. However, people do not like to forgive. We are not born with the knowledge of what it is to forgive someone. Think about it. We do not like to say we are sorry and we do not like to offer forgiveness to someone else, at least not at first.
As a parent it was very humbling when I would mess up to go to my daughter and tell her I was sorry and then ask for her forgiveness but the return on that far outweighed my discomfort. I did not feel smaller. I thought I would but I saw the peace and the joy that filled her eyes and the change in her countenance when she realized that her mother was not perfect. It also released her from feeling as if she had to be perfect. Now she understands when I go to her and say I am sorry for something and she is quick to do the same. By modeling asking forgiveness she better understands the need of giving it and asking for it.
Sorry, went off on a tangent. I was talking about my bag of rocks.
Well, in my study that I am working through, this week I am writing down all of the past hurts and offenses that I have held inside. Every. One. Of. Them. I have told myself over and over to “get over it”, “move on”, or to “forget about it” but words spoken in anger, hurts inflicted, and wounds ignored only grow and fester in the dark part of our hearts. They stop up the power of God’s love and beauty and light flowing in our life. When the walls of our heart are closed off with past regrets and hurts, even if God’s love is residing inside, it cannot get out.
I sat down and made my list. I asked God to bring to mind anything that I had not resolved. Any issue that was still rotting in my soul, so that I could name it and move forward. It was hard. When God brings those things to mind, the memories come and the hurt returns and satan can use that to cause doubt and fear, and we can easily slip back into the pit that we have struggled to get out of.
But I named each rock and placed it in a bag. I put the bag in my purse and I have carried it with me everywhere and let me tell you, it is heavy. Very heavy. It is ironic how I find myself avoiding my purse, and it is my favorite by the way. I take a deep breath when I know I have to pick it up, because the weight of it is much greater than just the rocks it contains. But I will carry it this week everywhere I go, I have carried those hurts for 35+ years, what is one week to really see how all of that is weighing me down? I am already looking forward with great anticipation towards the end of this week but that will be in a later post.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12-13
Is God’s light able to shine in all the corners of your heart or is it being blocked by the rocks? Maybe you too need to get a bag of rocks and carry them for a week and see how heavy it is. It will open your heart and open your mind. Forgive.