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Posts Tagged ‘Father’

*Wordpress ate my post. The whole thing save the first two lines. I was mad. I spent over an hour just trying to retype because of my distractions children. Add to that my screaming, teething, walking, frustrated 10-month old bursting my eardrums, and the first week daddy is back at school, and the five-minute escape to my bedroom to finish this should make sense. What a morning.

The other day I was in the Word, and I came upon the story of the Prodigal Son. I’ve read this story dozens of times, heard many messages on it, and read a couple of books about it (most notably The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen). But since I was up at O’dark thirty and it was the first day of school, these thoughts struck me particularly squarely.

Was it hard for the prodigal, skin stretched taut across his thin ribs, to enjoy the feast in his honor? Was his stomach able to process the rich food after subsisting on carob pods for so long? Was his heart able to receive the nourishment of family and friends? Or was he instead thinking about how instead of being served, he should be serving his father, and even that a concession he didn’t deserve?

And his brother, was his heart so hard because the denial of his own imperfection was so deep? Did he remind the prodigal day after day, hound him and taunt him with the memory of his previous life? Did he seize every opportunity to try to co-opt that into shaming and I-told-you-sos?

How, then, did the prodigal stand firm in his father’s love? How did he refuse the voices of shame and condemnation that tried to tell him he was too soiled, too sinful, too far gone to enjoy this place of position and power? How did he come to reconcile having what he didn’t deserve with the knowledge that indeed he’d never deserved it, that he had been the recipient of his father’s goodness all along?

After his return, he knew for the first time that living the other was was painful. Is that what kept him from getting proud? Was it pure gratitude that did the job, rather than the fear of being punished and sent right back to the pigs?

Perhaps he continued to struggle with feelings of worthlessness, of having cost his father greatly both financially and emotionally. Perhaps he was honest enough to admit the struggle with shame (and isn’t pride just an attempt to cover shame and keep it at bay?), his fear of being unloved, his fear that his father would one day relegate to servitude instead of sonship.

Perhaps he told his father all of these things, and his father reassured him that he was in the right place because being a son means forever, it’s in the DNA. Perhaps he told his boy that he loved his honesty, delighted in his struggle because it gave the father another chance to proclaim his joy over his child. And he loved hearing his son’s doubt because it meant he hadn’t forgotten the price they’d both paid being apart from one another.

But mostly he loved hearing his son’s thoughts, errant as they were, because it meant they were together, in relationship. As the father he was able to hold and reassure beloved child that all was forgiven, all was well, all had been made right. Because he was the father, and that’s just how it works.

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At my last session, the Not-So-Casual Observer and I were discussing a conversation I had with Jesus earlier in the week. She “suggested” that I write what I’d just told her and submit it to the church newsletter (apparently there ARE weird things about being in the same church as your therapist; if I were still at AVC, she couldn’t have given me that homework).

That led to a conversation wherein she casually said, “You’ve always had a good relationship with Jesus, but . . . ” and went on to say that now it’s really rich and defined, strong. It made me smile, but not for the reason she thought.

I doubt that she remembers asking how I experience God a few months back. She had asked about my relationship with Jesus, and I told her that He and I were getting acquainted. I had just expressed that, having daddy issues, I don’t really do well with God as Father. She asked if I related most to the Holy Spirit, but wasn’t true, either. I just sort of experienced the totality of the godhead as Creator, distant and powerful. Interesting what a difference a few months can make.

I’ve know Jars of Clay’s “Love Song for a Savior” since the first days of my faith, but now I get it. I’m now in a place where I can’t imagine going back to the religion I gave up just four months ago, because I’d have to give up the vibrancy¬† of my relationship with Jesus and, you know, that’s just not an option. Wow. I think that’s authentic transformation.

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