With the approach of Father’s Day each year, many of us are acutely aware of our complicated, often painful relationships with our own fathers—both the men who raised us and the God whom Scripture writers sometimes named as Abba, Father. Here, MA in Theology & Culture student Heather Casimere writes about her own complex relationship with her father—in all its beauty and all its pain—and about what that is teaching her about the God she calls Abba.
When I was a little girl, I had a father who gave me everything I ever needed. Not everything I ever wanted, mind you, but I had what I needed…and then some. I was able to thrive in major part because of the great sacrifices of love my father (and my mother) made on my behalf. For my brothers and I, the parental units provided a stable home; plenty of land on which to roam and play; support to encourage us to be who we were made to be; and enough adventure for a triad of kiddos wearing personalities as different as their varying shades of brown.
I got my stubbornness, my tenacity, my desire for an adventurous life (and my rough edges) from my Dad. Ours is the kind of stubbornness which invokes desire to uproot from wonderful communities and move across the country ‘cause there is a fire burning in our hearts to do so. Our tenacity can be to the extent that it causes us to demand to be taken to the bank to get things in order the first day after a health crisis. The desire to say yes and the ability to walk things out, even when I am scared—these attributes, I get from my Father: from my Dad, and from Abba God.
And yet my father(s)…they were supposed to give me everything I needed, right? Where the disillusionment entered in was in areas where this truth didn’t seem to be the case. Disillusionment entered in where disappointment occured. Because disappointment does occur.
What I have begun to learn is that there is an abundance of nonsensical grace held in reserve for us. There is grace allotted for us from Father God when the disappointment we face in our lives leads to anger and resentment that we then harbor towards God. There is grace to be gifted to one another as we find ourselves stumbling along our roads in our imperfect human state. There is enough grace to be extended to our human fathers, when the reality of their choices are difficult to bear.
“There is an abundance of nonsensical grace held in reserve for us.”
The reality is: my father gave me everything he had to give in the ways he was able to. He gave love and laughter and bravery and play, in addition to the harder things. As difficult as it is to admit, often we don’t have sight of the larger picture…even with God. Do we see His bigger picture amidst the disillusionment and pain we face? So often we find ourselves wrestling and fighting amidst the chaos of the world we inhabit to convince ourselves of His great love. Yet, there is grace enough. For the Father so named his chosen people Israelites: He gave them permission to wrestle with Him. He allowed grace for the misunderstandings that would come. He made room for the rough edges of his chosen ones.
Despite the things we have misunderstood about our father(s), about this process called life, despite the disappointment that is inevitable to the experience of being a human being, the reality is that he is—they are—my heros. I have begun to embrace the imperfection of a father I so closely resemble in order to begin to embrace my own imperfection. So much of who I am is because of him. My rough edges flow smoothly through playful waters because of my inheritance.
*This post is dedicated to my Dad, an imperfect man; a loving father; a forgiven human being…and a great dad.