Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.Psalms 68:19 NLT
Recently, a very important day passed, Father’s Day! This time I waited till after the holiday (instead of telling people the wrong date) to share the amazingness that is my father, and God, the heavenly father. Happy (Belated) Father’s Day!
When I was a little girl, I don’t remember wanting to be just a princess. I wanted to be the hero. A person noted for courageous acts or nobility, a person with special achievements and abilities (this is the definition at Dictionary.com). With the stories of princesses that could save princes from curses, superheroes that could save people in a blink of an eye, and of people that defied the odds. Being a hero was so much more fun. What even made it more fun was talking about these stories with my dad.
When I was little, superheroes and comics were the things I could find that both my dad and I could like. I wasn’t good at sports (so football was out) and I didn’t like to watch old people talk (what I saw as politics). But superheroes and comics, those were things I could enjoy. Though there was this one idea that always made me laugh: Superman and Clark Kent. How could no one see that they were the same person? One just had a curl and wasn’t wearing glasses. It took me years to realize why they didn’t see Superman in Clark Kent. God showed me that before I Clark Kented my dad, I did it to Him, God.
It’s easy to see God as a hero. In fact, He is the ultimate hero, He is the savior (a person who saves, rescues, or delivers). He died for me, bled for me, gave His only beloved son as a sacrifice, and He is the same son that saves our soul from the bondage of sin. God is the ultimate hero, the savior. While this is what God did, it’s not all of Him. He is a father and friend. But those titles are personal. Plus, for me, obeying the title savior or father was easier to obey then the title of friend. And like I said before, the title friend was personal. C.S. Lewis states that the love between friends (Philia) is a nakedness of personality. A true friend knows your shortcomings, your successes, your struggles, and they still stay by your side. You trust them to be there as they trust you.
Trust is such a vulnerable act. It was scary, especially as a little girl. To be friends with such a big, obedience is law, God, was scary. It was much easier to treat him as a savior, to only see Superman and never Clark Kent.
Then for one of my birthdays, my dad did something amazing. He baked my favorite cake. And while it sounds simple, to me it was profound because I didn’t like normal or easy things. At the time my favorite dessert was mud pie: chocolate pudding with crushed Oreos topped with whipped cream and gummy worms. My dad figured out how to make that dessert into a cake. Then he made it look pretty and wrote my name on it. My parents woke me up on my birthday. The cake with their smiling faces was the first thing I remember seeing. I treasure that memory because I learned that even though my dad wasn’t around a lot, he took the time to see what interested me. Not only did he do that, he created it in such a way I could never imagine it.
That’s what friends do though. That openness to learn and accept the interests within each other, that’s what friends do. That is what God wants to do. He wants to be open with us, and us with Him. He wants to know what I like, what I think, what I love. So, He can freely express the same. Yes, God states and shows that He loves us by saving us and giving His son. But when I let Him be my friend, there is such a deeper relationship and understanding of each other. There are also little moments that God creates to show me that He personally loves me.
One of the moments was when I was watching this movie, The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorites. There’s this line in the movie (“God is in everything, even a kiss.”) that I love, but everyone else thought it was weird. I prayed to God, wondering if I was weird or wrong to like that line. God told me: I was different. Not weird or wrong, different. If I saw Him everywhere, why was that wrong? He saw and knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. He knew I would like that part. He moved someone to write that line, for me. To help me see and enjoy God being everywhere. After that, the Count of Monte Cristo has been one of my favorites because it helps me see that God is more than a savior. He is the breath of life, love, and friendship. The only distance between Him and me is the distance I allow there to be.
But transitioning to see God as both a friend and a savior is hard. It was hard doing it with my natural dad. My dad was in the Army when I was little, and when he got out, he worked by contract while going to college. This meant he was gone, a lot and I got used to it. I explained it logically so it would hurt less. Dad was the provider, he needed to be gone if that was the only way to provide. In other words, how can Clark Kent be Superman if he’s always stuck with Lois. It was easy to say that was what he needed to do and accept it as the sad truth. But God is not about sad truths, He is a God of the whole truth.
Truth was, it hurt and I didn’t want to deal with it. So, I limited the situation to facts and something I could understand. Truth was, I was doing it to God too. I was limiting Him to this sad truth that it was okay if He didn’t do what I asked or that I shouldn’t ask because He is God the savior, not my therapist or genie. That was easier to accept and do, because it was less personal. But an amazing thing about people that love you, is that they won’t let you limit them, even when you choose to.
My parents were really into sports. So, when I could, I tried out or joined for the softball team, over and over again. Even though I wasn’t good, I wanted to be on the team for my parents. During the first years, late elementary school years, my dad was very busy with work and college. He wasn’t able to come to the games as much.
Then after he finished college, he got a promotion. I reasoned with myself and my sisters that it was okay for Dad to be away at work all the time. He got the degree for the promotion. The reasoning had become habit by then. Then I was in high school, I finally made a team (the lowest rank but I made it). The first game of the season was going to happen, and when I told my parents, my dad got so worked up about it. He was thinking of how he could take leave or half a day and come watch me play. I waved him off. To me it was fine if he missed the game. He had to go be Superman and earn money. I didn’t realize how much that hurt my dad.
When someone loves you, truly loves you, they don’t just want to be one thing in your life. They want to be a part of your life. They want to make things personal between you two. By the time my first game came around, my dad put in his two weeks’ notice for his job, that he was recently promoted in. To some that seems dramatic and reckless, especially since he didn’t have another job lined up. But God made my dad realize that while he was succeeding in his temporal job as a top employee, he was failing his eternal job as father and husband.
My dad never wanted to be the dad that wasn’t expected at games, or the Super Dad that only came in when I had a problem. He wanted to be the Best Friend Dad that I planned birthdays with, the Cheering Dad that came to every game and praised me whether I won or lost, the Advisor Dad that made sure the future I wanted was set, the Romantic Dad that showed me what to expect when I’m being courted by a man, and the Super Dad that came in to save me in a bind. He wanted to be all those things, so he did. He became all those things before I even let him become all those things.
My dad never forced me to accept those roles. He actively chose to quit his job, to go to every game and practice, to wake up super early (like 5 AM) to take me to school for clubs or practices, to sit and watch every show I was interested in whether it was about superheroes or hot mythical beings, to ask about those shows, to ask about my plans for the future every day, to ask if I could go to a dance with him, to send me a white rose lined with my favorite color when I said yes. And he did the most important thing of all with every decision I made, he asked, what did God say.
Now I’m not going to lie, some of those things he did, I used to get super annoyed with and sometimes I wanted him to back off. To go back to being just Super Dad, but he didn’t want to be that. Just as he couldn’t force me to say yes to the dance, or force me to tell him about the shows I watch, I couldn’t force him to be one role within my life. I loved him too much to do that. So, I learned how to choose to let him be all of those roles. I told him about the shows, I said yes to the dances, I answered the questions he asked. It was a process, sometimes I would just nod my head and let the advice go in one ear and out the other. Sometimes I was quick to tell him to go be Super Dad. But even when I did that, he was still there, ready to be more than Super Dad.
When I was a junior in high school, there was this trip for physics class. The class would take us to an amusement park and we could have fun as long as we calculated the physics of three rides. My dad signed up to go with me since my mom recently had surgery. When the day for the trip came, my mom was having a bad day. I love my mom, and my dad loves her more than I ever could. I told him to stay with her, that I was going to be okay. Turns out, I wasn’t. I got ditched by my friends, threw up, and almost left behind (thank God for protocols), There was good things that happened, I took some cool pictures and got funnel cake. But overall, it sucked.
When my dad called to check up on me, I could’ve lied and said that everything was fine, but I didn’t. So when I got to school, my dad was there waiting for me. He stopped to get my favorite snacks and when we got home, he watched my shows with me. Sitting right next to me, just as invested and my mom sat on my other side. To this day, he hates what I went through that day. That I was alone and suffering. For me, I love that day. Because when I made him just Super Dad, he became Super Dad, then came and picked me up as my best friend, as just my dad.
God wants to do that too. He doesn’t just want to be our mighty loving savior. He wants to be our comforter, our healer, our teacher, our shield, our friend and so much more. He wants to be apart of our lives any way He can be. So, whenever we choose to push Him into our little boxes of understanding or things that are easy to deal with, He will step into the box, but He will hold His hand out, waiting for us to take it when we’re ready. Because He is so much more than a savior, a hero, or a man. He is our father, our dad.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?Matthew 7:11 KJV