Wrestling With Forgiveness & Being a Father
“Happy Father’s Day Daddy!” The sound of your children’s voices filling your room with excitement, while at the same time acknowledging and affirming your identity in their lives is truly Heaven meeting earth. Even if it is well before your anticipated alarm! If anyone else, my amazing wife included, were to attempt that type of wake up call, I confess that it would not be met with the same attitude of joy. That may have something to do with my slight coffee addiction, which provides me with the personality I need to have early morning human interaction. After that first cup of “joe,” I’m my normal, extroverted self, ready for any conversation. Until then, I’m about as approachable as Simon Cowell during an episode of America’s Got Talent. (Insert the buzzing sound as I hit the “X” button on anyone waking me up!)
There’s something so overcoming, however, about the joy, excitement, and anticipation that accompanies each of my children when attempting to show me, love. The way that a child expresses love and joy is so unhindered by usual adult apprehensions. They have this innate ability to express, with complete vulnerability, their emotions with an absolute confidence that the same love will be reciprocated in kind. We adults, at least many of us, don’t possess that same sort of courage. We are careful to whom we show love, or express any level of transparency.
Of course, this is because we know better right? We’ve been hurt, and we’ve lived through some of life’s pains and disappointments. We, adults, understand that you can’t open your life up to just anyone because you’re opening yourself up for more disappointments or hurt. It is with this understanding that we take on the obligation to educate our children of the dangers of opening your life and heart to someone lest they suffer the same occurrences.
I understand the need for teaching discernment and wisdom in choosing relationships, and in allowing certain influences in our lives. I think, however, that there are many times we could learn from children in how we approach relationships.
Since I’m on the topic of vulnerability and transparency, let me start by becoming vulnerable with each of you. I can easily look back at relationships in my own life that were built with apprehensions due to previous hurts or disappointments. It’s as if I were wearing a certain shade of glasses, and the only colors I could see were those colored as fear of rejection, or disappointment.
I think all too often, as adults, we engage in new friendships with our neighbors, co-workers, or peers with these types of filters governing our lives. We see each other so often through the lenses of hurt, that it’s hard for us to ever build deep and meaningful relationships. Which is what we are all actually longing for. We’re scared, and understandably so, because we’ve been burnt before so we’re not about to allow ourselves to be put in that position again. So the guards are up, and our rejection glasses are on. This is now our worldview. The entire world is a disappointment waiting to happen, and this filters into every relationship, job, political and religious view that we have. How do I know this? Because I’m an adult, and I know better than my children.
After all, if they knew that I needed my morning cup of coffee, then they wouldn’t come and jump around on my bed while screaming things like “Happy Father’s Day.” Happy? Really? Not yet kids, not yet! But that’s not what I tell them, and neither would you because they are children.
Their expectation that I will respond in kindness is humbling, and their ability to forgive when I don’t respond in love is even more so.
“God is in a good mood.” – Bill Johnson
That is our father, all of ours. Our God is the type of father that welcomes loud noises and early morning mattress wrestling matches because he loves his children, and he’s in a good mood. We can have the same relationship with him, that we have with our own children, and even better if we’ll recognize that he loves us and holds nothing against us. We can continually come to him with an expectation that, no matter what, he will respond to us in kindness and love.
The lesson of God’s love is one where the parent, as the teacher, lives out for their children’s education and enlightenment, right? I’m not so sure. The longer I’m a parent, the more I’m reminded of the loving nature of God by my children, than any other outside influence. My children teach me about the love of God, because they more astutely display that love day in, day out than anyone else I know. Because of the different lenses I tend to wear, which hinder my open display of love toward others, they are the teacher and I am the student.
I watch them forgive me and others without hesitation, and in turn, it reminds me of Christ’s call to forgive those who’ve hurt us. Children are active participants in the art of forgiveness, and if we’ll let them, they will teach us so much about the nature of our creator. So, when my kids came into my room this past Sunday and jumped on my bed, screamed too loudly and uttered those beautiful, heart-changing words, “Happy Father’s Day Daddy”, I turned my heart toward my father and said the same. Happy Father’s Day!