In a continued celebration of my 50th birthday 7-22-15, I’m writing 50 thank you notes in 50 weeks. Here’s number nine--to my Daddy on the occasion of his 79th birthday today.
Mother always said that she was grateful to have an earthly daddy who gave her a wonderful image of her Heavenly Father. She was quick to caution us that not everyone has that gift: a daddy who loves lavishly, forgives readily, and offers reliable shelter from life’s storms. Indeed, from an early age, I was aware that having you as my daddy was a godly, precious gift.
I don’t know anyone who looks more like Jesus than you do, Daddy. It’s easy for me to imagine the kind of love God has for the children of God because I know how you love me, how you love everyone. You love so completely in that heartbreaking and heart-strengthening way of loving beyond the limits. When I try to fathom God’s infinite love, I just start with the way you love, and build on that. You form the very foundation of my understanding of God.
For example, I believe that God shows up. I believe that, because you always did. Thanks for showing up for parent conferences and band performances, for youth trips and choir concerts. Thanks for volunteering to drive the bus, chaperone, or teach. I could always count on you being there for me: standing up for me, setting boundaries for me, laughing, and crying with me. Your steadfast presence in my life teaches me about the unfailing presence of God. Thank you.
I believe that injustice affects God in a powerful way because I’ve seen how it affects you. I’ve seen injustice cause you to weep, but I’ve also seen you motivated to act in profound and purpose-filled ways. Like that time back in 1968 . . . You remember of course. You opened our home—which so happened to be the church parsonage—to an African seminary student. He spent the night with us and the next morning taught us a familiar song in his native language. From then on, with very little prompting, we were apt to break out into his translation of “Jesus Loves Me.” Much later I learned that for the next two years you would regularly find KKK brochures littering our lawn. (Perhaps having your new friend preach in your pulpit had a little something to do with that.)
I’ve seen you confront injustices so many times. Like your groundbreaking work with Alcoholics Anonymous. (Did you really threaten to become an alcoholic to join if they wouldn’t let you join sober?) In my memory, you started a chapter at every church you pastored. (Those must have been some long—and loud—deacon’s meetings!) Maybe my memory is off by a bit, but the lesson remains: God hangs out with the folks on the fringes. You taught me that, Daddy. Thank you.
Because of you, I believe God forgives us and truly forgets our transgressions. You never remind me of past sins. I literally have no recollection of you ever doing that. So when Scripture tells me that when God forgives us, that sin is blotted out completely, I get it. That’s what my daddy does. Thank you.
Something else you’ve taught me, though, is that humans are not perfect. You’ve allowed me to see that you can and do make mistakes. You’ve messed up, apologized, and messed up again. You’ve taught me that it’s okay to be human and that humans aren’t perfect. (I can’t imagine the money I’ve saved on therapy bills just from that one lesson!) Thanks Daddy.
So thank you Daddy. Thanks for teaching me how to be human; thanks for teaching me about God.
I love you Daddy-Daddy,
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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