I like my dad and I like my Dad–most of the time.
One thing I don’t like is how I expect my dad to be Dad. That’s just too much for a man to handle. Who can live up to those types of expectations?
And worse, I project any inadequacies of my human father onto my Divine Father, as if He fails in the same ways. Example: If my dad was mad, really mad, he would cuss and turn red and blue and purple all over. He would string together a dozen colorful words to express his anger, ten of which I cannot repeat on this blog. Being someone who likes syntax and grammar, there were times I stood in total awe. I’d think, My dad just connected profanities in a way that I didn’t know profanities could be connected. Then, I would marvel even more as I considered the hyphens and commas that must be used to make sense of all of that—imagining it were translated to the written word.
To my dad’s credit, whenever he was angry, he directed his anger at objects. He would throw a lawn mower deck across the barn, or he would scream at the wrench before clenching his fists around it and bending it into submission. (My dad was strong, and when he was angry, he was strong like Samson.) Only one time do I remember dad directing his wrath at me. We were moving a heavy-duty freezer out of the basement and into the garage. It was quite a chore and being a puny fifteen year-old, I was struggling to carry my end of it. I held my own though, trying to prove my manhood, and we made it up the stairs and to the door that opened to the garage. There, my dad bumped into the doorway, lost his grip, and dropped his end of the freezer (presumably on his foot). I instantly dropped my end and he began his tirade. I listened to his curses, his screaming, his passionate expressions of anger, and I watched as the color of his words began to express the colors on his face. Thankfully, I don’t remember the things he said to me, or to my mom, or to the freezer. But the experience was enough to shape me.
Unfortunately, when I met my Heavenly Father, I projected this image on Him. Sure, I thought of Dad as loving and gracious and forgiving and all of those things that we see in Him when we first encounter Him. But as time progressed, I started hearing that if I didn’t do this, this, and this, then God would have to do this, this, and this…to me. It was destructive really. It was a manipulative, control mechanism. And the more I heard this twisted message, the more I started to fear my Dad, in an unhealthy sort of way. What I mean is that I became fearful that if I screwed up, or made Dad mad, Dad might scream at me. Dad might turn blue in the face and cuss me into oblivion and that wouldn’t be pretty. Being a much stronger and more powerful Dad, He might just take His thumb and crush me into the ground like an ant.
Over the past couple years, and particularly over the past couple months, I have learned this is no way to think of my Dad. And I also want to be clear that this is no way to think of my dad. My dad, aside from his anger, was and is a great dad. He spent time with me, he coached my teams in sports, he taught me how to drive, he worked hard to provide for my needs and to give me a lifestyle of convenience. He bought things for me, he played games with me, he taught me how to change the oil in the car. My dad was great.
I am only stating in this post that it was unfair to expect my dad to be my Dad. So I apologize dad. And I apologize Dad.