|image courtesy photobucket
“Lot’s daughters helped him out – -” the deep voice trailed.
My ears stung and then time stopped.
Immediately transported to the bedroom area of our small three-room housekeeping rental at the Old Mission Motel in Oakland, California, I was in third grade. It was early morning and hunger pangs doubled me over as I searched desperately on the closet floor for something to wear.
Everything was thrown together – clean and dirty. I heard my father coming and panic set in. I wasn’t dressed! I hid in the closet and continued to rummage. All I wanted was some sort of top to cover me. He called out. I didn’t say anything because I was frantic.
The closet door flew open.
“Come here” he laughed and tried to pull me out.
“No!” I cried “I’m trying to get dressed!” Flailing about to cover my chest, I ran back into the closet.
Then the comments came – about my naked body, that is. Maybe he thought they were cute but I was mortified. Who talks to their nine year old daughter like that?
He tried to hug me, but I wouldn’t have it and pushed away. I only wanted to cover up! His big hands always managed to be in places that made me recoil. Then the teasing…..
Like an immature school-boy, my father berated me. He didn’t like being rejected. The sharp remarks let me know that HE paid for everything.
Yeah? If he was so good at it, how come I was always cold and hungry? And…how come I always had to care for the younger kids? How come we were in this motel and not a home? Where were my under wear, socks and some shoes… and, where was my mother?
Snapping back to the moment, I stared at the phone. Did my father just . . .? Did he just try to make me feel obligated to “help him out” by misusing part of a Bible story about Lot and his daughters?
My face and neck flushed. My ears hurt and I felt quite odd! No words can describe the flooding mix of emotions.
It was already late in the evening. My husband and two young children were asleep, and I was on my way to bed . . . when the phone rang.
It seems my father was in between women – again! He was feeling sorry for himself. My efforts to encourage him and give him some great Bible verses which had helped me, fell fruitless.
How could I have missed it? All my life, I couldn’t help but feel that his hugs were out of line. When he’d ask for a kiss, he turn his head at the last second so the kiss so it would land on his mouth instead of his cheek.
I hated it when he would get “huggy” with any of my friends, especially as I got older. His behavior just didn’t feel “normal”. Some of them reacted the same way I did. His flattery toward others of them often evoked their admiration. How needy they must have been for attention from their own fathers.
Even later, when my daughters were older, they mentioned that they felt “funny” around Grandpa. He was “creepy”. I tried to think the best, but there was always that strange unsettledness in my gut.
After he married his fourth, much younger, wife I ended up with a half-sister the same age as my youngest daughter. Whenever they came around, something in me rebelled! I didn’t like it! It was like he was in competition with me over kids, career, everything.
Once he showed up at my door and said he had given his life back to God. Still, I didn’t trust him.
During my childhood there were long periods of time where I didn’t see or talk with him because all of us kids were here and there – in the homes of relatives, friends or even strangers – wherever my father could place us to be cared for while he worked . . . and my mother was hospitalized. I didn’t mind the separation so much because I didn’t have to think about how to cope with my father.
The positive and the good about my father should have offset his shortcomings, right? At least that is what I told myself.
I couldn’t believe it though, when he visited, it was always all about him and what he’d been up to. He, his current wife and daughter would blow in, unannounced. He’d ramble about whatever project he was involved with or where he was going to preach, and then? Then, they would blow right out as fast as they’d come. That was, however, AFTER they had finished off the food or snacks we had hurried to prepare for them.
Things were always a bit strained. My biological father didn’t know me or my family. We never had the opportunity to share anything about us. Being hit by a bulldozer, couldn’t have left me more wounded. The whole time, MY poor little family didn’t know what hit them either.
My middle daughter shyly approached my father with a school project about family and asked if she could interview him. He bluntly refused her. She was so hurt; she remembers to this day that her grandfather couldn’t take a little bit of time to help her.
Selfish and self-important, my father continually bragged about the places to which he had traveled to preach or to tout the “book” he had written (self-published). He never knew, but his youngest child had coined the phrase, “Great White Missionary”, to describe our father’s mind-set – – and it stuck.
Several times he had chosen “missions trips” over caring for and feeding his own children. There were many unintentional consequences attached to this neglect.
Right up until the day of his death, I don’t think he ever really got it!
Physical heart trouble plagued him and eventually weakened him altogether. But, what he really needed was to go to God for a spiritual heart-transplant.
Only God can keep a person’s heart convinced of HIS love. Only GOD can fill any void.
Only God can provide a person with purpose and worth.
If my father would have actually placed his trust in God as a Father, he would have experienced contentment and the joys of his salvation.
It is with a distant sadness that I say that he was a “legend in his own mind”; a byword to his children.
Unfortunately, my image of God as a Father was severely tainted by the father-image modeled to me.
Distrust and insecurity plagued me for a long time.
It was only when I embraced the idea about being a new creation in Christ, while old things – old ways of doing things and seeing things – had passed away, that my impression of God began to change.
All things became new. NEW? Something that had never before existed? The very thought! I could hardly contain myself!
I learned that I could come boldly before the throne of Grace that I might find mercy and grace to help in time of need. Could it be? Could I solidly place my trust right there?
When I learned that God was not a man that He should lie, my spirit experienced liberty!
How comforting. Abba! Daddy! My Father God.
I’m never ashamed or afraid in YOUR presence.
How comforting. How freeing to KNOW God as My Father.