A Father’s Love

We call our father’s by many names. Appa (Tamil), Papa, Thatthi/Thathha (Sinhala), Dad, Daddy, Father (if we are being formal), Pere (French), Vader (Afrikaans – anyone thinking STAR Wars), Baba (most other African countries) – these are just a few and the ones I commonly know and or have used.

No matter what word we use to call/refer to our fathers, they have the same significance to all of us. They represent love, security, strength and safety. For those of us who have absent fathers we search all our lives for those things in other places.

I was a part of both, as in for a period my father was there and for a period he wasn’t. For some period though he was physically there he was not present in any other way.

I grew up like any other girl idolising her father, but in my case the fact that me and my father were alike meant I also felt we had a special connection that no one else was privy to. I loved that. I loved that it was something only I had with my dad and it needn’t be shared with my sisters (I have spoken before on sharing and life with three younger sisters), or even my mum for that matter. He would know how to make me smile. He’d make me laugh and distract me when I needed it and he loved very much the way I do, with his entire heart that sometimes, it did him no good. I loved my dad was a true enough statement.

Parents, we sometimes forget are human too. My dad was human, with insecurities, with faults, with weaknesses and when these manifested themselves in harmful ways to the entire family, I hated him as much as I loved him.

I was always at odds with myself, torn between loving my dad and hating him for his weaknesses. Blaming myself as a kid thinking there was something wrong or lacking with me for him not to change his ways. For him not to give up his weaknesses. I blamed everyone around him and blamed him too. I was hardest though on myself.

When my dad died he was so far gone. Alcoholism had taken it’s toll on his body and his mind. I was left with guilt and regret cause I never fully built the bridge to reconcile and I never really told him that yes I was angry with him but yes I loved him too. I think though that he knew. Little things he did. The way he looked at me and the way he cared. See no matter what I never doubted my dad loved me. I just always questioned why that love was not enough to change.

I am getting married next year. I always dreamed my dad would walk me down the aisle, give me away and I don’t have that. He’s not there. He’s not going to see me in my wedding gown and get emotional. He’s not going to cry giving me away. He’s not going to dance with me and twirl me around. He’s not there to make me okay when I am stressed with all the planning. He’s not there as my security and surety. I hope though that where ever he is, he’s happy and happy with how I have turned out and what I have chosen for life.

Even though my dad is not going to be there, another father figure who has been there for the last 11 years will be present. My step-dad who is also quite human (no inhuman parents out there), is there to walk me down the aisle and dance with me for the first time and cry at every moment and pretend he isn’t crying. He’ll make me laugh, he’ll act silly and smoke too much cause he’s sad to give me away, but he’ll be there.

I have been blessed to have two fathers. Who have both taught me so much. Not only on what not to do, but also on what to do. It took amazing parents, who have strived through heartache, difficulty, weaknesses, mistakes to raise me. And they will all be present that day as I wanted whether physically or not.

Raising a child is difficult, raising a child well is even more difficult. Raising a child when you are the farthest thing from perfect is an impossibility almost, but they did. Neither I nor my sisters can claim to say we have made too many bad choices in life. In instances where we have tried to, they have stepped in. In the instances we did, they have been there to pick us up.

Parenting is a lifetime job and sometimes I think an after life job too. You never rest once you become a parent and it is hard from what I have seen. You never stop loving though and you always try your best no matter how screwed up you may be or how much your children screw up.

A parent’s love for their child is the best example of humanity at work. Even though parents are human with all sorts of weaknesses and their children have weaknesses too, they still love their children as though they are all perfect.

A Father’s Love is unconditional and God’s love for us is that of a Father.

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Coming back home…

I recently purchased the book Loved by Rebecca St. James…It’s a book filled with stories about prodigal daughters of God, something that caught my attention as I had moved away from God since I moved back here, (that is to my home country Sri Lanka, for those who are new).

I knew there was the possibility of that happening. I can normally foresee the likely outcomes of things. What I can’t do is avoid them it seems.

There was no sudden decision to move away from God, it had been happening for a while, even before I got here. Coming here just acted like a catalyst and I spiralled right out of His presence!

I accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour when I was 13. My family life was dysfunctional, I was lonely, I wanted protection and who better than God to watch over me? He is after all, all-powerful!

I spent my time listening to sermons on tv and radio, writing down the lyrics for all the latest Christian songs and sticking them on my wall. Reading the Bible, trying to memorise scripture…I tried very hard to be a good Christian, with no guidance and my background that wasn’t easy. I always felt like I fell short of God’s expectations! Everytime I sinned – told a white lie, said something mean to my mum or sisters, even if I sneaked a sweet or something I was not supposed to eat – I felt utterly horrible! I could not believe I allowed myself to fall into temptation and could not believe God would forgive me! When I failed to memorise a Bible verse or didn’t pray when I should have or didn’t read the Bible it was worse! I felt like I didn’t love God enough.

I’m the kind of person who thinks a lot, and I thought about my ‘sins’ A LOT! I spent days dwelling on them, making myself feel guilty, punishing myself mentally and emotionally for not being ‘good enough’. No wonder my relationship with God was so fragile to begin with. I felt I needed to be perfect to win his love! I knew that was not the truth but having always craved for affection and always feeling like I needed to earn it, I guess it wasn’t such a surprise.

That same need for affection and wanting to feel loved and wanted, led to the beginning of the end. Those needs overwhelmed any other logical or sensible thoughts I had and built a brick wall between God and I. It was slow at first, but soon the wall started going up even faster. Before I knew it, I had through my choices and actions made it impossible to let God in. When you do something that is against God’s will, a relationship with Him kind of becomes hard, cause your sin is ever present between you. Unless you accept your sin, you cannot have fellowship with God. I couldn’t accept my sin, it was easier to pretend it never happened and live life without God, or so I thought…

After  reading the stories in the book I finally realised I can’t live life without God. I can’t do things by my own strength. I need to admit my sins to myself and Him and ask for forgiveness! He’s not going to punish me, He never needed or wanted me to be perfect! He loved me broken as I was and I needed to trust Him, I needed to realise I will not be perfect, but He doesn’t hold that against me, in fact He loves me even more for it! I needed to humble myself and let go and let Him!

For the first time in my life I feel free, I feel like my heart is soaring and it’s because of Him! I don’t have to hold on so hard to my life, I have to give it into His capable hands and rest. After all, ‘I’m just a vapour in the wind’. Him, He’s forever!

The Pilgrim’s Progress

I have been reading the book The Pilgrim’s Progress for two or three years! I first heard of it a few years after I became a Christian, which was nine years ago. I tried reading it then, but for some reason could not make myself continue with it after the first few pages. Then I decided I would attempt reading it again about two years ago. Once again, I could not continue further than the first few pages! I love reading and hardly ever meet with such difficulty in continuing and finishing a book! This year though I aimed to read 22 books via Goodreads and decided to include The Pilgrim’s Progress in the list. Surprisingly I have found myself reading it without a problem this time.

You can imagine my surprise at being able to read the book easily NOW! Me being me, ofcourse I needed to find the reason for this! I don’t believe in coincidences and I choose to believe that everything happens for a reason and that everything happens when it’s supposed to! I also believe that no matter how crazy this world gets or how much I sometimes forget, God’s still in charge! Just cause we don’t always acknowledge it or sometimes plain doubt it or even don’t even believe it, that doesn’t change the fact He IS still in charge! I know because I have done all three. Seeing the world’s pain and chaos, I have had moments where I did not believe God was in charge! Seeing the circumstances I have gone through and my trust in Him and not seeing any relief I have doubted Him being in charge. In addition, sometimes I just plain ignored He was in charge and refused or forgot to acknowledge His being in charge. HE ofcourse never stopped being in charge inspite of that! And HE always forgave my lack of faith and praise even though I really don’t deserve it. I mean He’s GOD, I’m just small me!

Back to the reason…Well as far as I can tell I believe that I needed to read this book NOW! I had to read it at this time in my life because to be honest I needed the messages the book was teaching now more than I did in the past! I had to learn the lessons from the book now because I have grown far from God and closer to this ‘world’ for a while now. And as anyone who has read The Pilgrim’s Progress knows this book is like a travel guide for the Christian walk! It marks out all the pitfalls, all the adversaries we face, all the roads to avoid and what lives down those roads. It is a book of allegory that manages to capture the essence of our journey as Christians and in my case it opened up my eyes to all the places I had stumbled at and made me realize I needed to humble myself and ask forgiveness from God for straying from the path!

God’s hand has been quite evident in my life! I forget that sometimes. He watches over me as He does all His children and HE guides and does what is best for me as a loving and merciful Father. The thing is I have not had a father who corrected me and chastised me and cared about my future and well-being for quite a long while. I have forgotten what it’s like to be loved by a dad, to have a father who corrected me and knew what was best for me. I sometimes, for that reason, don’t really see His love right away. Don’t see my worth in His eyes as easily as I might have. I forget and fail to see how important I am to Him. Cause I am important to Him aren’t I? Everyone is important to Him and HE loves us all inspite of ourselves. That’s a pretty amazing thing when I think about it, to have someone love you unconditionally even though HE knows EVERYTHING about you! Blows my mind! What about yours??