I struggled while searching for a card. Usually I'm a great card picker, and I often ensure that my cards are consistent with my thoughts or feelings about the individual for whom I am buying the card. But today I was stuck. Pick, skim, nope, repeat. These just didn't fit. Especially not after how things have been lately. Ugh. Does should I even get a card for him?
Here I was feeling self-righteous in the Dollar Tree card aisle the day before Father's Day contemplating which card to pick my dad, and half way feeling like I shouldn't pick one at all. The Holy Spirit was like "don't act like that, you know better", ugh, why must I be so receptive to conviction. I eventually decided on one that seemed short, sweet, and appropriate. I didn't want anything too cathartic or deep because I just wasn't feeling him right now. I got one from me, and then one from "all of us" (my siblings and nieces/nephews). I paid for my items and left.
Before I go further, let me dispel the possibility in your mind that says my daddy wasn't around when I was growing up, or that I'm bitter because he cheated on my Momma, or that our relationship is bad. Those beliefs are all wrong. My parents have been married for 30+ years, my dad has always been present, and he loves his kids. Daddy's girl tatted on my arm, singing me to sleep on nights when my mom stayed out late, there crying at every graduation or day to celebrate me. See I love my daddy. By no means is he perfect, no Cliff Huxtable or even Carl Winslow; but he's my JuneBug.
You see, the reason why I'm frustrated is because no one ever teaches you how to be when you see the human side of your parents. For so long we experience our parents as super humans, unflawed, the one who makes it happen. And then you become an adult, and you get a good look at how they adult, or you see the short comings in some important qualities, their lack in managing responsibilities, or all around inconsideration. Thats what happened, I saw my dad in human form. Not that I was naive before, of course I didn't believe my dad was perfect, but just learning things and being able to see it from an adult perspective shifted my view. What's weird is that I've only noticed it over the last year, and as selfish as it seems, it pisses me of. Which is why I had trouble buying a card, why I chose not to get any additional gifts, and why I'm somewhat dreading Father's Day lunch. He doesn't deserve it (that little part of me says). But who am i?
I had to check myself; no wait that was my Therapist and my boyfriend, or maybe the Holy Spirit, whoever it was that checked me it was necessary. Who am I to say what he deserves or doesn't. Yes so what he dropped the ball in a few areas that could end up having big consequences, but that doesn't discount him for being who he has been my entire life. And I don't get the right to pin him to the cross when the One who created him still loves him, forgives him, and is (by faith) giving him ability to pick up the pieces. So who am I not to extend him grace? I have some nerve.
Bottom line is, if my daddy died today or tomorrow I wouldn't remember his flaws or shortcomings, I would remembers his laugh, his corny jokes, and the nick names he had for me (Shoebox, Momma, and Eet). Its easy to love, extend grace, and be relational with people when everything is going well, but our true character is tested when we choose to continue to love, fellowship with, and extend patience and grace to that person after they've fallen short in our eyes. Jesus said "what credit is that to you to do good to those who do good to you?" (Luke 6:33). I'm constantly striving to love and grace others the way God does me. Plenty of days I fail and or miss the mark, but I never want to stop striving. I never want to feel like a loved one is so bad or I'm so good that they don't deserve my grace and patience. I never want to stop being convicted, practicing awareness, and reappraising my thoughts/behaviors when necessary.
So with that said am I frustrated with my dad, yes. But am I also going to celebrate him on Father's Day and try my best to extend him the grace and patience that he deserves, also yes. I realized a long time ago that I can't change people and as much as I teach it to my clients I know I still struggle with it in my personal life. God doesn't give us relationships with people for us to change them, he gives us relationships so that it can change us. In every difficulty he's developing our character, through every piss off he's strengthening our patience, and every individual who falls short of our irrational view of them is an opportunity to extend grace. We have a choice. We can't choose how people are or what they do, but we CAN choose our response, and today I choose grace.