I am fairly certain that at the beginning of his parenting journey, he didn't know he was going to be the dad of four daughters, and he certainly had no notion of all that would entail. But I do know that if he ever wanted a son, he never mentioned it, and never seemed anything but happy to be the dad of all daughters, in good times and bad. And he always seemed to have a pretty good time with us at that. He was a pastor since before we could remember, and while that came with its own challenges and meant he was really "on call" 24/7, it also meant he had flexible hours that allowed him to be involved in our days. I always thought that was pretty neat.
My dad is also a little...um...quirky, which meant that our family was a little different in many ways, and while during some stages of my life I might have wished we were more like the elusive "everyone else," most of the time I really appreciated our uniqueness. I certainly appreciate it now that my own family is unique in many ways, and being familiar with being the upstream-swimming fish has proven to be useful. I also appreciate that my dad's quirky-ness meant that as we were growing up, we learned to explore the paths off the beaten roads and all the nooks and crannies of buildings we happened to be spending time in for one reason or another. Even now, any path or staircase that presents itself makes me ask, either my kids or even just myself, "I wonder where that goes?" (And often we go find out!)
My mom is busy and outgoing, and I've already shared how she has used that in neat ways for our family. Some of my sisters are like her, and that serves them well, too. My dad is much more introverted (although most people find him funny and friendly, so he's not completely anti-social!), and I am more like him in that way, so I've always found him to understand things about me that no one else would. So thanks for that, dad! He's a reader, as I am, and we like to share interesting tidbits about things we've read and learned, all of which I've appreciated over the years. And as one of the most knowledgeable people about the Bible that I know, he's also been my go-to person about all things biblical and spiritual. He taught us pretty much everything about the Bible and our faith that I brought into my adulthood, in fact, and he was faithful to give it to us straight. I was talking with a friend just yesterday about how I think tidy Sunday School lessons are quite destructive in giving kids a sanitized view of the Bible, and how grateful I was that growing up, my dad read to us and with us from books like Judges, which could hardly be described as tidy or sanitized.
In short, I really looked up to my dad throughout my childhood and into my adulthood...and then there came a time when he let me down in a rather big and public way. And it was awful. Now wait! Before you're thinking, "What a nice Father's Day gift! Would her dad like a little lemon juice for that cut?" I'm pretty sure he knows that was a bad time. I think our whole family can be honest about that. In fact, our honesty about that whole time was pretty raw at times, and I think my words now are rather tame! I'll also admit that it's probably just as true that I let him down and wronged him at times during that unhappy era, and I can't even remember if I asked his forgiveness for any of it. If I didn't, I hope he forgives me now.
At any rate, it's true that in that dark, dark time, I doubted for a time whether anything about anything he ever taught me was really true. Could it be, when it seemed he had turned the whole world on its head? And then, after a little while, I began to claim things I still knew to be true, and I realized that while my Dad wasn't the Way, he had still shown me the Way...and I still believed it and wanted to live it. That was more than a little something! I don't think he knows how that time grew me and stretched me in ways I never would have experienced otherwise. I know he wouldn't want to repeat things, of course, and none of us enjoyed the sadness and pain and everything else that accompanied that time, but out of the ashes grew life. There came joy and certainty in knowing that my faith isn't based on a person, but on something real that I chose, that I would still choose even if those who taught it to me gave it up (they haven't, just so you know). There came freedom in knowing that no one is perfect...and therefore that I don't have to be perfect. There came more grace and more mercy in all this, and all of that has been good.
On Mother's Day I talked about how my mom is a little crazy because she's this amazing woman who thinks she's not all that special. On this Father's Day, I also have a dad who thinks - or thought - that he failed us, when in reality, the life he gave us growing up was one we (or at least I, but I think I'm not alone) wouldn't have traded to be like "everyone else." In reality, even in the hardest times, he taught us and loved us, and I wouldn't want to have traded him, either. So thanks, Dad, for being different and quirky, introverted and thoughtful, so very knowledgeable and yet so very human (that really has been a gift, whether you think so or not!). Thanks for everything you've taught us and every path we've wandered, and also for all the Magnum P.I and Brisco County, Jr. episodes...because those were just a lot of fun!