Remembering My Father
Father's Day always births nostalgia in me. I was just three years old when my father walked out of my life in Hawaii, never to reenter it. I have never forgotten that.
Larry Crabb once said, "In even the happiest of lives are deep pockets of incurable pain." I don't say this to elicit anyone's pity. I just want to say to you men out there who are contemplating leaving your wives for greener pastures: Divorce is an atomic bomb, and the greatest fallout is on the children.
A few years into my marriage Becky and I were visiting the Pacific Northwest. Through the grapevine I had learned that my father had remarried and was living in San Jose. I even had his address. I asked myself, Should I visit him on the drive back to Southern California? As we traveled through Oregon and Northern California I became increasingly anxious. Approaching the San Jose city limits, we pulled off the road. I recall being paralyzed with indecision. I began sobbing on Becky's sympathetic shoulder. I cried like a baby. Then we prayed ... and drove straight through San Jose without stopping.
Just before my father died of cancer he phoned me. I had never recalled hearing his voice before. Funny, I thought, he still has a bit of Hawaiian Pidgin in his accent. He engaged in some small talk and then said he wanted to reestablish a relationship with me. Without any bitterness I softly said no. It's too late for that, I thought to myself.
Someone has defined forgiveness as accepting the pain another has caused you and refusing to hold that person responsible. I had long before forgiven my father. But I was not ready to have a relationship with him.
Occasionally I think about that phone conversation. Did I do the right thing? I don't know the answer.
After the end of apartheid in South Africa, Desmond Tutu told his fellow citizens that they had no right to indulge in self-pity. He asked them to become, in his words, "wounded healers." If I have ever encouraged another human being toward spiritual health and wholeness, it is as a wounded healer.
When I was eight years old I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. God became my Heavenly Father, and I became His son. That relationship has made all the difference in my life.
But no one can ever replace a father in a child's heart.
Not even God.
June 18, 2010
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.