A Bowl of Chili
It’s Tuesday evening and I’m spent after a full day chasing my tail… accomplishing zero-zip-nada-nothing. I’m living life large on 3 cylinders futzing around the house hoping that by the time I plop my haggard soul into bed I will have, in some way, made a contribution to the Kingdom or at least to the general state of affairs in my domain (I reorganize my junk drawer, open the bills clipping them smartly to their envelopes and stacking them alphabetically, make a note to buy some AAA batteries, straighten up the bathroom sink…update my Facebook status and feed the dog.)
Mercifully Lori says dinner’s ready and I sit down to a hefty bowl of comfort food, i.e. chili topped with jack cheese, red onion, cilantro and sour cream. I’m taking my first bite as she updates me on our daughter’s weekend relational conflict with a friend saying, “You ought to read the follow-up letter she wrote to Audrey” (her out-of-sorts friend). I pull up my email and begin to read her letter. I didn’t/couldn’t take another bite of chili for 30 minutes.
The tears were familiar… pouring down their historic route. They were similar to the tears I shed welcoming my daughters into this world, akin to those saying “goodbye” when they each left for school in Europe, very much like my tears dancing with them at their weddings (as well as saying “good night” the night before the wedding, and the night before that…). They were very familiar… and very new. Catching me by surprise God showed up and began to touch, speak, move, stir… comfort and heal. I was overwhelmed with tears, the tears of a happy man… the tears of a blessed man, a man who could have died and gone to heaven that very moment.
Meagan’s letter in word, spirit, texture and affect blew me away. Her handling of, and speaking to her friend’s heart and soul was kind, forgiving, full of understanding, courageous, strong, inviting and authentic. Her world view, love of God, maturity and pursuit of her friend jumped out to me. She is the person I hope to be someday.
Is there a day a father doesn’t bear some weight, a burden we’ve grown so accustomed to we hardly notice it… a question about our children’s journey and who they’re becoming and how they’ll “turn out”? It lies just beneath the waterline of consciousness surfacing from time to time. Added to this acclimatized strain we carry is another question inseparable from the former… it’s a notch deeper perhaps and it’s all about us. “How am I doing as a father? Am I screwing her up… do I have what it takes… is all this effort ‘working’… will she be everything I have hoped and prayed… is God at work?” We are often and deeply afraid of what we’ve done, are doing and will do as a parent.
She’s too young to get her ears pierced… right? Is Barbie a corrupting model of femininity/beauty? What do I do about the influence her “friends” are having on her? Why am I so easily infuriated? What about the music she loves, movies she watches, clothes she wears… egad! Did the time I let her cry in her crib when everything in me said to go in and comfort her wound her… or was it that fit of anger when she came home late… yikes! How about the church youth group… it’s dead! Will she know and love God intimately or be merely compliantly religious. I think I blew it with the Beverly Hills 9012487 parties… and the NKOTB concert. Was my discipline too strict or lenient? I should have emphasized school more… the guy she’s dating is a flake!#$@? Oh God… dear God come for her… come for me!
I have worried and wondered… paced the floor, pounded the ground, cried out to God, beat myself up as a father and doubted God’s clear-strong-whispered words over the years… “Craig, your daughters… they’re mine, I’ve got them, we’re tight, we’re good. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid, don’t panic… trust me… love Me, love them.”
And until this letter I doubted God and his words to me.
Seeing my daughter through her letter made it all very clear. My every concern about how she might “turn out” was dismissed, every worry stilled, the questions settled. He said, “Craig, you are a good father… look at your girls”. I was happily sobered and embarrassed that I had ever doubted him and his work in her and through me.
I could not nor is it possible to be prouder of my girls at this stage of their lives. They quite simply are beautiful in every way.
As for me as a dad… God could not, nor is it possible for him to be prouder of me. I’m his, he’s mine, we’re tight, we’re good.
What a bowl of chili!
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