Sunday, June 20, 2010

FATHER'S DAY SPECIAL: Someday you'll understand

Honor your father and your mother. – Exodus 20:12 (NIV)

My dear Michele, the letter began. Perhaps by now you are over the mad spell at me for scolding you the other night…

Printed on motel stationery and folded neatly in a yellowed envelope that bore a State College postmark, the letter brought back a memory from my high school years. I settled on the game room carpet while snowflakes twirled in the winter wind outside and let my mind drift back to a midsummer night when I was 15. . .

The warm July sky sparkled with a thousand pin-lights as my friends and I walked through town. It was just the kind of night that holds magic for a teenage girl on the brink of growing up. Heady with all the freedom and fun, I’d neglected to call my parents to tell them I’d be late. We had no cell phones in the 1960s, remember. By the time I climbed the front porch steps, it was past midnight. Dad waited at the door. . .

This is the first time you ever stayed out late without calling and letting me know your whereabouts, the letter continued. I was actually sick with worry after walking up to the bazaar and not finding you there. By that time I was imagining everything.

I couldn’t remember Dad ever being so angry with me before. After an ugly scene, I stormed up to my bedroom, grounded for two weeks. The next day Dad seemed to have gotten over his anger, but I treated him with icy silence. By the time he left for work Monday morning, I still hadn’t spoken to him. Since he worked out of town through the week, I knew I wouldn’t see him until Friday. The letter came Wednesday—after my mother told me that he’d gone out in his pajamas looking for me, even searching the bushes along the sidewalks I would have taken had I come straight home.

As I read Dad’s words that long-ago day, my stubborn resistance melted away as a father’s love triumphed over teenage pride. One moment of panic, I realized, doesn’t cancel out years of steadfast love. Four years later Dad died.

It is so hard for a parent to be cross with a child, but sometimes it is necessary for your own good, he wrote. Perhaps when you have children of your own, you will understand how we feel.

I thought of my own three children. They’d all had me frantic with worry and fear at times as I imagined the worst.

“Yes, Dad,” I whispered softly, holding his letter close to my heart. “I understand.”

Thank You, Father, for parents who loved me enough to discipline me when I needed it. Help me to be a parent worthy of being respected, valued and honored. Amen.
Special-Tea: Hebrews 12:5-11

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