Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Letters from a father...


For years I have wondered about my father. Though I was 11 when he suddenly died, I can remember very, very little about him. I have no personal internal testimony, nothing written on my heart that would convince me of his feelings for me or mine for him. I have searched so deeply in my memory files trying to recover a sense of him, or a sense of our relationship. It's just simply been a vacant spot. So instead of reminiscence and because of the void, I have searched long and hard to understand what my heavenly father thinks of me, just how does a father feel about his child? What a treasure I have found in discovering how a perfect father loves. As only God would do, he waited until that issue was settled (the one between Him and me) before allowing me to happen upon a box of letters written by my own Dad. Many letters. Kept for many years after his death in a simple cardboard box. Letters he wrote to his own parents during the early years of his marriage and through the last year of his life. About 15 years worth of letters, detailed unlike a man would normally write. But this was back before computers, free long distance and cheap travel. Writing was the way of communicating between his parents in Iowa and his new home after a bold move to California. My grandmother, probably never got over his moving west. She probably treasured each letter from him, held each to her nose hoping to catch a scent of him and after reading it over several times, held it close to her chest until the tears slowed. Then apparently carefully saved each along with all the others. My uncle, the keeper of the box, hesitated sending them to me. Since they weren't addressed to him and had been removed from the farm house once my grandparents passed away, he hadn't a clue what they contained. If he'd read them all, he wouldn't have a clue what they contained. Only a child looking for answers could decipher the depth of them. Once they arrived at my home, there were so many I laid them on the dining room table, sorting them by post mark, then began reading the year my parents married and one year later when I was born. What man describes in such tender words, his descriptions about the child he is expecting and then includes the simple details of a tiny daughter? Trying to paint a picture for his own mother, I guess. Though 40+ years apart, she and I both benefitted from his effort. Then one Sunday morning sitting in church, listening, but distracted, God got my attention. I have never heard anything like this before in my head, but it was as if someone slapped the top of a book. A sharp, loud noise that got my attention. And God said "Listen now, this is big. See the letters on the dining room table?" Yes, Lord, I whispered inside as I pictured them. " What are they?" he asked. They are letters from a father to his child, I answered him. I couldn't help it, the tears just starting spilling over. Searching the letters I had just wanted to know. I needed to know how my dad felt about me. What he thought about me and what I meant to him. Was I a joy, a delight to him? Was I in the way- an annoyance or an ornament in his home? At our earliest we know how to be nothing more or different than who we really are. We are raw us. Unable to be anything other than the genuine us without the ability or inclination to change for others. Our personality and temperament are in their purest form. We act more than react to others. Rejection at that age can be rejection of the deepest and most powerful kind because it cannot be tied to anything other the "who I am" not "what I am doing." I searched the letters to see if my father was accepting or rejecting me at that age. Was I loved by him? Was I acceptable, even lovable and could I find any evidence of how deep that love was? Was I worthy of capturing his heart and his delight? Did he adore me? Did he want to make plans for me and my future? Did he have dreams for me? Did he want to protect me? Did he have important things to teach me? Was he proud I was his? Did I have him wrapped around my tiny baby sized finger? Did he look forward to the "Father-Daughter dance" with the same heart ache/joy my own husband does when he looks at our daughter? Oh yes, I discovered.........my dad loved me. The timing of receiving the letters is amazing. My heavenly father has allowed me so many experiences, painful and confusing, then support, and time to cause me to search for the whys of it all-then to pursue Him for hope and healing. The painful memories sent me straight to my knees, broken and longing. I was desperate to have that need filled and my heart healed. I would, though, have been so lacking to find it all in the letters. My dad was human after all. Tender, loving and adoring yes, but my earthly father could never have met my every need even if he was still alive to love me. We were created differently- to yearn for the Father. The Savior. The one who is everything. The life in living. Had he given me the letters any earlier, I may have missed the whole thing. The letters on the table-stacks of them from a father to his child...My savior wanted me to read HIS letter and search for and understand who He is and how He feels about me. How He has always felt about me, back when I was a tiny baby in my innocence, but even as I was pursuing one sinful day after another. He knew then, I was looking for Him. I didn't know that was what I wanted, but he did. And so on Sunday morning he has said to me: "Pay attention, this is big! The letters from your dad tell you how he felt about you-these are my gift to you and I have kept them safe for years and no one even knew the value of them-Can you see me child? Can you understand my love for you?" "My letter to you is eternally more valuable and it tells you how I, God, the master of the universe, the Holy one, feels about you. Father-daughter letters are important, oh yes. My word is my letter to you. This is where I want you to be. Search my letter and see." And I thought I missed out on the father-daughter dance! Hardly. This is the Father-daughter dance of a lifetime! Praise you God, praise you................

12 comments:

Tina said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. It is so amazingly beautiful to know the love of God. So many people (even many who sit in church week after week) miss out on truly knowing God intimately because they do not allow themselves to surrender. What a freeing and empowering moment that is! Praise be to God. May He continue to bless you with his greatest riches, ones you can hold in your heart instead of those that can slip through your hands.

See you there,
One of the Family

D- said...

How deep is the Father's love...unimaginable

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Deb said...

Loved your sweet "impossible" story...only the One Who does the impossible could/would put these events together, would plan the timing so perfectly. Reading your story is helping me put together my picture of Who our Father really is. Thank you so much for your eloquent sharing.

Joyeful said...

Your story brought me to tears!! Our God is such a loving Father! What a treasure he kept for you. Oh what a love!

Christy, the Notable Blogger said...

I have goosebumps!

Debbie said...

What a beautiful testimony!!

Erin said...

This is amazing. So thankful for His letter.

Holley Gerth said...

Jodi, thanks for linking up this post! You won the $25 to the (in)courage shop! Send me an e-mail (holleyg at dayspring.com) and I'll get the code to you...(: