My dad was a liar. My dad was a cheater. My dad was a thief! He thought he was so funny... You know what's funny? When you leave behind your wife, kids, and the rest of your family - all because you can't stop drinking. What a joke! My dad was a quitter. My dad was a scum bag, no-good-rebel. The amount of people he hurt because of his selfishness is enough to be locked out of heaven forever. My mom has had a hard time since he died - thanks, dad...
My dad was supposed to be the leader of the family. The only direction he lead it was downward. He lead us into bankruptcy. He lead us into sadness, depression. He lead us to "shut-off notices" and eviction. He lead us to heartbreak and suffering.
When I look at pictures of much-younger-me, my heart breaks again. HOW? How could you? How could you ignore such a face? I was a cute kid man, but my dad went through life ignoring me. I had to figure most things out myself from a young age. It wasn't until I was thirteen or so that I began to understand the rules of baseball or any sport for that matter - and my dad was a huge sports fan. The one time my dad cried in front of me (before he was dying) was at some point when one of Cleveland's sports teams were looking better than ever. I can't quite remember which that was or when it was - but I remember him being in tears (of joy) about this. It was the most emotion I had ever seen in him - it's burned into my head.
With all that zeal, my dad hadn't ever taken the time to teach me anything about his interests. My dad loved to golf, and my dad loved to bowl. Neither are things he taught me or expressed to me. I only knew of his love for golf from the golf clubs I'd later find in the garage and from stories his dad would tell me. I knew he was always on bowling leagues, but at any age that I can remember - I had never seen him bowl.
My dad died seven years ago today. Leaving behind my brother Mark, my mother, and me. I should say good riddance, and my dad should go to hell.
But he went to heaven, and I miss him. On top of this, I forgive him. I don't know if I could forgive him if I didn't have the Holy Spirit in my heart, but thanks to the power of God I'm actually thankful for him - but more on that later. As I get older I see more and more how much I am like my dad. I too am a liar, a cheater, and a thief. I too have hurt a host of friends and family. I too am a quitter and a scum bag, a rebel. I'm selfish and I can be a poor leader. I also have a hard time including people in my life and interests, etc.. I too should go to hell.
To be honest, my parents were not ready to be parents. When my mom became pregnant with my brother, both families pushed them to get married (thanks, family). They went from super rebels to parents overnight and tried to make it work. Mark and I survived. So they succeeded. It would be crazy to hold all these things against two crazy kids that got married - I mean they tried! They could have dumped us off, or never got married at all.
I'm thankful for the example my dad gave me. I'm half him after all. So now I have a good picture of what I could become if I don't let God change me to be more like His Son. The example that Jesus set is a man who was bold, strong, forgiving, compassionate, and empathetic. Jesus was reliant-on-God and a lover-of-men, I want to be like that! I know so much of what-not-to-do as a husband and father. I'm lucky to have become a Christian at a young age (12) and gain "spiritual parents". From them, I've learned what-to-do as a husband and father. No doubt I have much to learn still - but I have received two examples of how my life can play out, and I know the direction I'd like to go.
Also, I don't know my dad's heart. I cant know his intentions or what he cared about. I can't know why he never stopped drinking. I can't know what drove him to leave the house for the bars when I'd beg him, crying, not to leave (as a cute, innocent version of me). He should have gone to hell, and so should I, but we're not going to. I can't wait to see him again in heaven so we can catch up!
We're all messed up people. Every single one of us has our individual flaws, shortcomings, sins, and sufferings. Luckily this life isn't all there is. This is a short time here on earth. Our time here is like a spark, a minor flash, here today - gone tomorrow. What are you living for? What's the point of life? Thanks, God, for giving us a reason to live! We can all get fit, get rich, or get famous - if we try hard enough. But what use is anything if we are going to die eventually? God is real! He is personal - and loves us all, He has that purpose for us, that reason to live. He sent his one and only Son to die on the cross and rise again so that we don't have to die and we too will go on to live forever. Look - God has already forgiven us. The job is complete, he is done - mission complete! Thankfully, He left it up to us to accept that forgiveness. It's a gift. A wrapped present that's been sitting under your Christmas tree since the day you were born - screaming to be opened. Inside is freedom, peace, and joy. Inside is eternal life and a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Inside is a significant life.
No matter who you are or what you've done, God accepts you. The question is - will you accept Him?