The Hope of Father’s Day

Father’s Day, for me, is a reminder. A reminder that relationships can change and even be restored.

Growing up, I did not have the best relationship with my dad. We seemed to have lived in parallel universes. I liked sports. He couldn’t care less about sports. He liked working on cars and trucks. To this day I hate working on even a toy car or truck. He liked analyzing everything and teaching  people whenever he had the chance. I liked….well, ok, we have that in common.

Early on my dad was involved in my life. He was a coach on my t-ball team. He was my Tiger Cub leader, my Cub Scout Den leader, and then one of my Assistant Scout Masters. He was the one who pushed me to finish well and become an Eagle Scout (I am very thankful for that).

But as I grew older we grew further apart, partly because my dad was hard to be around. He had mood swings, and bursts of anger. He worked late and was less and less involved with the family. He was unstable, unpredictable, and oftentimes irrational.

In my teens years I really, really, did not like him. And once I left for college, I expected to see him even less. And the truth was, at that time, I was fine with that.

But a funny thing happened.

Through a series of fortunate events, I came to find out that my dad was not so much a bad man as he was a weak man. What I didn’t know growing up (and neither did my dad) was that he was suffering. My dad had severe sleep apnea which was causing him to lose more than 80% of his oxygen when he slept, and he was bi-polar.

I remember coming home from college one weekend and, unbeknownst to me, my dad had made some changes. He had begun using an air machine to help him breathe at night, and he had started taking medication to help control his mood. He was a totally different person.

He was kind. He was loving. When he saw me, he gave me a hug (a really big bear hug). And as I stood, trapped in the arms of my father, I thought, who is this?

Things were going to be different.

In my own heart there was still much anger and much pain from the wounds of the past. There was still confusion, and an extreme reluctance to take a step forward toward this new, unknown relationship. But the seed of healing had been dropped into the ground of our relationship. Over time it would blossom.

Over the next decade there would be many conversations, and many confessions (from both of us). There would be tears, understanding, and eventually forgiveness. And, to my surprise, there has been, is now, and always will be friendship.

This gives me hope.

I often wonder how my own three kids, as they grow up, will perceive me. I wonder how a decade (or two) from now they will describe me to their friends. Will they remember the laughs we had? Or will they remember the times I yelled at them? (Hopefully they’ll remember the times I apologized).

I don’t know which of my faults and weaknesses will drive stakes into their memories. But I do know this: That even if, for a time, they remember me as a terrible dad (I hope not); even if there is a time they want nothing to do with me (I really hope not); even if (hypothetically) I make every mistake imaginable… there is still hope of redemption and reconciliation.

My dad’s relationship to me is a testimony that Jesus Christ is bigger than our brokenness. That no matter how bad certain seasons of life are, there is always the possibility of things getting better.

I love my dad. I consider him a true friend, and a person I desperately want in my life and the life of my kids.

When I was a teenager I could not have imagined wanting such things. But that is the power of Christ.  Through Christ we have found the power to be honest about our shortcomings, the power to forgive, and the power to move toward reconciliation and healing.  Through Christ we have found the power to love again.

In Christ there is hope— there is always hope.

Father’s Day is a reminder of that hope. A hope my dad and I both share.

 

 

 

 

Butterflies and Hope

The other day I watched a video on the life cycle of butterflies with my six year old daughter, Adeline. I was reminded just how amazingly mysterious metamorphosis really is.

Curious, I did some research to find out how science explains this process. Turns out there’s some debate.

In an interview with NPR, biologist Bernd Heinrich, contended that one animal (the caterpillar) is reincarnated into another animal (the butterfly). As he put it, “The radical change that occurs, does indeed arguably involve death followed by reincarnation… the adult forms of these insects are actually new organisms.”

Yet others, like Ferris Jabr, tell us something else is happening. In Scientific America he describes the process of metamorphosis as a caterpillar digesting itself and then maturing into a butterfly by activating certain previously unused cells. He writes:

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on.

Did you get all that? Yeah me neither.

But here’s what I did get.  Whether through “reincarnation”, or “imaginal discs” there is something still kind of magical about the whole thing.

And this gives me hope.

Hope in a God who creates moments that are fun, magical, and mysterious. Moments that display his art, his work, for all to see, yet will largely go unnoticed. Moments that are just for his enjoyment.

Hope in his creation. That there is still so much more to be explored. And there is still so much more worth exploring. Hope that there are so many more magical moments to be discovered.

Hope that there are still things worth staring at. That there are moments worth watching over and over again. That there are still simple creations to marvel at, because their wonder never goes away.

In some strange way watching a video on the life cycle of butterflies with my six year old daughter gives me hope.

I hope it gives you hope too!

Here’s the video, enjoy!

Jesus is not fragile

Sometimes I think we approach Jesus as if we could break Him.  As if we could vent too much to Him, to the point where He would respond, “no more, that’s too much…quit it, you’re stressing me out.”

Of course we think that, because we have those moments…those moments when someone’s confession of pain or trouble starts to overwhelm us.  Sure we listen and sympathetically nod, but inside we’re thinking “no more, that’s too much…”

But thank God, Jesus is not like us. He is never stressed out by other people’s stress. Rather, He tells us to give Him all we’ve got.  Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)

Only Jesus is able to turn stress into rest. We cannot break Him, because He has already been broken for us. On the cross He felt the weight of all our pain, but now He has overcome. So now we can come to Jesus-the Mighty One, our Refuge, and our Rock. And now we who are fragile can lead others to the One who will not cower and will not break.

Thank God, Jesus is not fragile.