A walk in the wood. A rustic log bench. An invitation to take a seat upon nature’s pew, so I do.
The memory comes out of nowhere—and everywhere—at the same time. I’ve experienced it before, and acquiesce to the process.
The church pew feels hard and sticky against the back of her bare legs. The man up front is talking … a lot. He says that God gets angry when we do bad things.
The girl squirms. She wants desperately to pop her thumb into her mouth, to soothe herself from the uncomfortableness of it all, but the shame she’d feel if the others knew she still sucks her thumb keeps her tiny hand balled tightly against her side.
And besides, she doesn’t want God to get angry with her for doing “the bad thing”.
So instead, she wiggles next to her father and hides her face in the scratchy tweed of his Sunday-best. In the hidden place, she breathes in and sighs, or maybe it’s a yawn, or maybe a little of both.
Without a word between them, and as nimble-fingered as a stealthy pickpocket, her father quickly reaches into an inside pocket, silently unwraps the lolly and pops it into her mouth.
The memory lingers softly. There’s nothing sweeter and more satisfying than the taste of a father’s love.
My father was far from perfect, but he was kind. He rarely, if ever, raised his voice and never his hand. I did not doubt his love for me—ever. He helped form my view of God as a father in a positive way. For this I am grateful.
I realize others have a different story. Raised voices and heavy hands fill their memories. They weren’t loved in a healthy way. (I don’t pretend to understand.) Because of their experience, they may have a difficult time relating to God as father. For this I am sorry.
However, the essence of fatherhood springs from God, not man. The behaviors of our earthly fathers, no matter how good or bad, are not the standards by which God’s love can be measured.
God’s love transcends the borders of my life experiences into a wild wilderness I am longing to brave. It takes courage to go at it alone—a lonesome transformative journey of the heart that I’ll be navigating the rest of my life.
The first step is always the hardest, but the journey will take your breath away.
Love & Peace.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!” 1 John 3:1-3 NKJ