Ode to My Father

This past Sunday was Father’s Day.  Another holiday that I have missed spending with my family.  It’s weird to think about the fact that it has been over 6 months since I have seen my family and that I have been living in California for the majority of my time for the past 2 1/2 years.  Somedays, when a holiday is being celebrated or a milestone is being hit with my family I long to be with them, doing the day to day   But I’ve found out something incredible in these past 2 1/2 living away from my family and that is that I have come to know them more as who they are.  I can’t even begin to express how my appreciation has grown for my dad over the course of the past 2 1/2 years and how he has grown from my father to a confidante and from a confidante to a friend.

The last time I really lived with my dad was 6 months before I moved to California.  I had just graduated from high school and had just become a new member of the working world.  I slept in while he got up early and went to work.  I then went to work right as he was coming home for the evening.  I would get home from work, join him and my mom as they watched a tv show and then I stayed up while he went to sleep and the cycle continued. 

This continued over the summer and then my dad and sister moved to Chicago for 10 months.  The beginning of change was hitting me.  I had never lived without my dad.  I had never spent more than 2 weeks away from him.  I couldn’t imagine going day by day without seeing him and giving him a hug.  I was devastated.  The next few months were full of tears and emotional emails where I told him how much I missed him.  I would listen to sappy Country songs about missing people and bawling my eyes out.

Then I left.  I began to understand that distance didn’t matter if you knew someone and if they knew you.  That you could be apart of someones life and still be a complete individual.  If you talk to any of my friends they would tell you that my family and I talked at least once a day.  There were many tears shed over being away from family.  My friends would tell you that there was an unhealthy connection but I would just tell you that it was a part of the letting go process for both sides.

That process of letting go became a process of growth, a rite of passage from the world of a child to the life of an adult.  But I’m definitely not all the way there yet and so at time my dad is just my dad.  He is the “nerd” who inspired my nerdiness; who instilled in my love of new and different words and who taught me in middle school how to make my own pocket protector (I only used this in a costume!).  He is the man that I run to when my heart feels like it’s broken in pieces, when I need a hug and those strong arms around me.  But he has become more than that, he has become a friend who I share what makes me laugh, the silly going on in my life, someone I look to when I write to make sure it’s alright, to see that I’ve stayed within my boundaries.  He has become someone who I realize can’t always protect me, although he desires and strives to keep the world away, as I grow and move out into the world I realize that he can’t and shouldn’t always protect me.  But thankfully he is still holding my hand, always right beside me as I trust, try and experience life.

But more than all that combined, more than father, friend, confidante and mentor my dad is a metaphor of Father God.  When I moved away my father could physically be with me, he couldn’t hold my hand or hug me tight.  I couldn’t see him face to face.  But he stayed my dad.  He still knew who I was and what I was feeling when I called.  He knew me. 

And that is how God is and has every more become in my life.  Although there isn’t a physical touch or a face to face meeting I know He is still there.  He still holds me and loves me.  He calls me daughter and wants to give me the very best.  He won’t “protect” me from the world but He will give me strength, redeem me and protect me from becoming the world.  Father, Papa, Daddy, Abba.

Thank you dad for allowing me to grow up, for becoming more than just my dad and for allowing me to see God through you.  In everything that you are to me, you challenge me to grow, to live and to love.  I love you!

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