Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I was reminded today, the importance of a fathers heart toward his children! The legacy of a good father is providing them with attention, affirmation, affection, endurance, humility, respect, mercy and most of all love.
Being rooted and grounded in this...it allows us to do much good in the communities around us. When we know how to Father rightly, we can also extend a fathers heart to the fatherless. Today I listened as a well know advocate for social justice was honored by those to whom he was known to. Colleagues, Officiates, Pastors and family members. A common thread was that you either loved him or you hated him.
It was difficult for many reasons to sit and listen to the Eulogies. I won't go into great detail, it's hard to listen to humanitarian accolades when at the foundation everything is flawed.
I truly believe that the BEST form of social justice, humanitarian activism comes from having a deep awareness of a Father's/Mother's heart. (You can have this even if you have never physically raised a biological family) This begins by making peace with your past. If you can't stand up and confront your past, you will never walk free in the future, which takes guts, courage, honesty, integrity, respect, confession and forgiveness (and many other attributes). It means that you look back, you recognize the lack and you move in a different direction. Not pretending it ever happened or make light of it...but rather, in honesty look it in the face and make peace with God, your self and others.
If this never happens, you continue the cycles those previous generations walked out before you. Sure you could probably look like all is well, but at the end of the day...do you? As you re-cycle the past instead of doing something different, you offer quite the challenge for those who are looking to you to leave a legacy or an inheritance (which is not about gold or silver). We can do good works, we can make a difference, but when there is no foundation, these accomplishments through time will whither, die and be forgotten.
For nearly 3 hours, I listened to all the GOOD this person has done and yet he missed the mark which saddened me greatly. Life is but a vapor and he chose to fulfill worldly fame instead of looking at what really mattered...being a father. I listened to a different challenge today as I sat applauding the bravery of honesty by a son. It was refreshing and truthful. It took a son to speak truth that didn't cause merriment; rather it produced gasps and the shaking of heads. Heads of those still stuck in the niceties of appearance, desperately hiding the past and present wounds, so not to appear ‘broken’ in any way, fearing the words of man, rather than fearing the words of God.
It caused me to take another look at my own experience. It wasn't great in the early years. I longed for affection, affirmation, attention and love, and if faced with the same experience these men were having 25 years ago, I might have replied with similar words, yet in the last 25 years, I have grown to understand my father, and truly love the man he is. He isn't perfect, nor am I...no one is. But one of the pivotal conversations I had with him was when he shared that with me his own reality. That he knew he wasn't the best dad and he didn't sugar coat it, or make it appear differently. He called it for what it was and he chose to do something different. I have learned the value of hard work, to endure, to show affection, and the ability to affirm my daughter because of him. He is generous to a fault and would give the shirt off his back for you. He now openly shows affection. It has allowed me to also walk free of walls of hiding and to be the man I am called to be. My earthly father will still fail in comparison to my heavenly Father and I too will fail my daughter, yet it is God my Father, who fathers me in the lack. He is my perfect Father. This continual growing knowledge of the Father heart of God comes with my own submission and acceptance of Jesus as Savior. If I know Jesus, I know the Father!
Yet this funeral today rocked me to the core. My father’s heart broke within me to see the longing and the empty eyes staring back at me as a son addressed the crowd. Honest and transparent, yet alone and fragile, walls built up from years of broken promises and empty words, a vow "I will never be like him" and yet shockingly he became the very thing he hated. I know that full well.
The experience enlarged my heart for the fatherless, those to whom their fathers are still living, but are emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually distant. I saw numerous men and women at the funeral with hearts breaking due to their own lack of being fathered. It breaks my heart.
It's time we rise up and speak a different type of social justice awareness, that it really does matter the legacy and foundation that we lay as a father or mother. But this will take a concerted step toward honesty and courage to bring things into the light, to address and talk instead of hiding behind walls, or through activism. When we've wronged someone, we make it right. When we haven't made amends or peace, can we even in all integrity stand for social justice and the rights of the down trodden when we have neglected the very ones to whom have been put in our care? The masks need to come down, the veneers stripped away...the pretense thrown in the garbage...and true men and women calling out for their sons and daughters to come home. It will take brave and courageous fathers and mothers to lead the way, who aren't afraid of words spoken behind the back, rather more afraid of the God who judges both the living and the dead.
May the Lord be merciful...and kind! Slow to anger and rich in love.