Father

Memories of My Father

I hear my friends talk about their fathers. They talk about their quirks and likes. How their dad always uses a certain type of pen and when they see that pen they think of him. They reflect on stories or mentos and karaoke, homecomings and weddings, projects and just being there. My anger at my father is quenched. I don’t feel a wrath towards him. If anything I feel a pity.

The more stories I hear the more I grieve the memories that never were. When you have someone in your life who makes it more difficult, your brain never keeps the good moments. You work so hard to dump the bad, that you drain everything out. You are left with tiny fractured pieces that didn’t find their way to the recycling bin. I know nothing sentimental of my father, that I can reflect on and smile about privately.

My ultimate hope is forgiveness and restoration. My family is not perfect. We are a bunch of people fighting our demons. Many of us have slain the dragon, but for some, the war persists.

Dear Dad, 

I hope you have not given up fighting. You don’t have to do it for me. I don’t need you to. Do it for the sake of freedom. Happy Father’s Day.

Your Daughter, 

Tosin

Lenten Prayer #10: Spring

Father, 

You make all things new. I remember reading Genesis 1. Your Spirit hovered the earth. You felt oppressive. I felt oppressed, but the light is not bad. Your Light is not either. I welcome the sunshine spring. Knowing that the death of the seed really was its pathway into resurrection. Into the new life as a new creation bursting from the old. Do the same with me. Please do the same with me. 

In Jesus Name by the Spirit’s Power, 

Amen

Lenten Prayer #3: Triune God

God,

Holy One arrayed in majesty before man could whisper majestic. Father present with the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead. Three in One. May, I embrace your divine beauty on unity. May, I behold the splendor of your majesty. May, I understand You more and continue to marvel at your mystery. Teach me. I have much to learn. 

Amen

Lent Prayer #2: Rushed Spirit

Father, 

I’m already at a loss for time and the day is just beginning. It seems logical to ask for more time in the day to the One who is eternal. However, You give me peace. You give me patience. You remind me to slow down. Not to dwell on traffic unmoving, but the people all around who may be in need of Your Light. Slow me down to the pace of Your Son, who was able to notice a woman at a well, a paralyzed man at a pool, and me amid the billions. Let patience and perceptions be Your grace poured on me today. 

In the Name of Your Son, by the Way of Your Spirit, 

Amen

The Language of “I Love You”/Loving My Teens

I have never met three little words as simple and complex and these. Each individual word is only one syllable, but it is as if every letter carries the weight of Kilimanjaro. Because each word means a million other words.

At the conclusion of my first year of foster parenting, I wrote a post titled Loving Your KidsThis post chronicled the beautiful agonies of loving someone with your whole heart and constantly seeing them go. There are several little boys and girls who will never remember me, but they carry fragments of my heart.  The way a parent loves their child is essentially a replication of how God loves me: unrelentingly, at my worst, sacrificially, unconditionally, furiously, purposefully. I don’t think I ever loved people as passionately and ferociously as those little ones. Until now.

I enjoy my job. It is interesting and beneficial and challenging. However, I love my teens. Working with them reminds me of each and every day of being a foster mama. In dozens of ways, God used working at Casa de Esperanza to prepare me for working with my teens. I look back on my adolescence and having a conversation with my friend Jon Butts. It was about those three little words. I remember in my adolescent melancholy telling him, “If you say I love you too much, people won’t think you mean it.” I still hold to that statement, but it is with the added phasing, “If you show I love you, then people will know you mean it.”

Saying “I love you” communicates you have an affect on me. You. You as you are, are so worthy of love. In fact my love is a gift. I want you to accept it, but if you don’t it is always here. Because in the midst of the cursing and fighting I realize, for me to love my teens it requires absolutely nothing on their part. They don’t have to change. They don’t have to like me. I just love them. Know, I don’t do things perfectly. I trespass against them and am rude. I am annoying, and sometimes don’t know when to back off. However, they respond, I love them.

It is a humbling love.

It is a love that let’s another human call you a b#&$@ and not respond in wrath. 

It is a love that forces you to sit in silence as another human pours out their rage on you. 

It is a love that seeks healing for the brokenness. 

It is a love that makes frightening police encounters opportunities to prove you are there for them. 

It is a love that cries the tears that have already dried on their face. 

It is a love that drives throughout Downtown Houston looking for truant teens

It is a love that when someone yells, “$@&# you” all you want to do is hug them. 

It is a love that allows you to sit and paint the nails of a girl who doesn’t speak English. 

It is a love that moves you from your desk to the basketball court while wearing a dress or a skirt

It is a love that finds opportunities for them to grow

It is a love that lobbies for the best possibilities. 

It is a love that does not look past faults, but corrects them. 

It is a love that sees potential and nurtures it. 

It is a love that opens you up to empathize deeply and many time painfully so. 

It is a love that daily wipes the slate clean. 

It is a love that brings you to a place of utter transparency. 

It is a love that desires to know the deepest yearning of their heart. 

 

I don’t do all of this perfectly. I barely do half of them averagely, but the more I look at this list, the more I realize my Father’s love for me. His love knows and drives and moves and seeks and allows and nurtures and finds and desires and cleanses. And, His love is like this unrelentingly and perfectly with the same intensity at all times. His love is best. We are best equipped to love others when we know many of the ways our Father loves us.

There are dozens teens who probably will never remember me, but there are little mason jars, abbreviated authors, troublemakers, teen mamas, and many more who hold fragments of my heart. My hope and prayer in this moment is that they realize it was never my heart in the first place, but the heart of the Father.

Do We Really Need Dads?

I try to write solely about my experiences and myself. I conscientiously do not talk about my family in immense detail, as I know people who know my family might read this blog. Today, I am writing about my dad, because it is 2:30 in the morning, and I have spent all week denying that Father’s Day is today. Moreover, for self-preservatory reasons, I need to divulge. If you are someone who is in Atlanta who knows my family, just pray for us. And if you do feel the need to comment please do so here. Do not ask for more details and feed your gossip demon. Recognize that when someone shares with you, you are experiencing a moment where someone who trusts you is being vulnerable. Do not be the wolf to this sheep, be a fellow sheep and if you can be a shepherd.

All holidays pertaining to my father, I do not celebrate. I do not wish him a Happy Birthday or acknowledge Father’s Day. As of recent, my father and I are consciously estranged. Now, I made this decision recently. I do not call him. I do not text him. I do not email him. He has minimal to no knowledge of what I do, where I am, or who I am. The distance between Houston and Atlanta is so great that it is easy to pretend he is not there. In order for some understanding to be had, you need to understand some things.

Around age 12, I realized my father had no interest in my life. Not only did he have a massive disinterest, but also in no way did he attempt to hide it from me. The only moments where he did show interest is when, I did something he could brag about to his peers. I remember having to beg him to come to recitals and concerts. Senior year of high school, I was nominated for homecoming court (which was a MASSIVE deal). Friday night, you are supposed to walk the field with your dad. Two Sundays before, my family is eating Chili’s, and I ask my dad if he could walk me down the football field at half time during the Homecoming Game. He looks up and effortlessly says no. If it were not for my mother’s intervention, I would have walked alone. Sadly, comparatively, this is not the worst thing he has done to me.

You would think as an adult that, I would be done with all of this…nope. Even in adulthood the ramification of my interactions with my father, affect me. God has healed so much of my brokenness; there is still much more to go.

Since, I was a child; I could see myself as a mother before a wife. I knew I wanted to adopt, but I did not know if I could handle marriage. Often my saying was, “I don’t need a man”. Having a husband antagonize me seemed more of a burden and less of a blessing. God used college to do some work on my heart towards men. He is still working on it now.

So to the question of “Do We Really Need Dads?” My answer is yes, but we need ones marked with humility and love for others more than self.

  1. We need dads because girls who do not have them are stunted in their development with men.
  2. We need dads because boys who do not have them are given many incorrect views of what manhood looks like.
  3. We need dads because God gave them a role in the family to fulfill.
  4. We need dads because moms and dads are meant to be partners in this journey.
  5. We need dads because…because…well, because we do.

One day, I will choose forgiveness; I will choose reconciliation; I will choose love. However, today is not the day.

Father, forgive me. Soften my heart.

Forgiveness…Even if You Don’t Love Me Anymore

“Forgiveness is not a feeling it is a purposeful decision” June Hunt

I remember reading those words for the first time on a rainy summer day on my bed during the summer of 2012. The last two years had been an unexpected development of my faith. Never had I felt love for Christ as passionately as then. It was a love so grand that it forced me to come face-to-face with a sinful foundation in my life: hate. As my love for my Father blossomed; a hate for my father bloomed. God is amazing, but He cannot co-occupy a heart still burdened with sin. With this in mind and knowing I would be leaving home in 3 months, I decided to find a book on forgiveness.

Those word pummeled me. Obviously, I burst into tears with this overwhelming revelation. If forgiveness was a decision, it meant I have to intentionally choose it. Feelings come passively. We choose our attitudes, which dictate our feelings. No one has to tell you to feel sad when a friend dies. No one reminds you to have joy on your wedding day. However, forgiveness is a choice. It was something over the course of reading that I chose. I chose to forgive my father. I am continually walking that out, but I continually choose to forgive him.

Most times, I don’t find it necessary to forgive someone as I don’t really think people offend me often. Even if they do, I know to some degree I have offended them as well. Yet, there are moments where I did not commit an offense. Nevertheless, I am still offended.

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17

“Bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28

With my life as it is, I have found it hard to forgive those who put me in this position. My life was interrupted in the rudest of disruptive of ways. I lost so much in a matter of hours. Bitterness, would be a justifiable carnal feeling to have and honestly, I have felt it. However, it is not Christlike. My bitterness does NOTHING, but thwart the will of God in my life. Far greater than that, I have begun to consider two scenarios. Humanity broke a utopian world that God had so intricately created. He sacrificed Himself as Jesus for our redemption. If He can forgive I can forgive, especially when I am slapped in the face with this block of truth found in Matthew 18:23-35 (NASB)

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”

But, I also have referenced this scenario in my head as well.

He wakes up with a sick feeling in His stomach. He knows what the night will bring Him. He knows what is coming. He hears the men he has journeyed with for three years outside his tent. He exits and greets them. He sees Him off to the side. He knows what is coming. Boker tov Judas. Judas repeats these words to Jesus. They smile at one another, as Jesus knows in a matter of hours, Judas will betray Him. He will turn Him over to the Jewish and eventually Roman officials to endure an amount of human suffering unbearable to a mere mortal. This level of human suffering is beyond the physical and extends into the spiritual realm. And here they are walking as if nothing it going on. I love Judas. I was there when Judas was crafted. Father, forgive him; he does not know what he is doing.

The He in this except is Jesus. I imagine Jesus knowing about Judas and still choosing to love him and forgive him. It amazes me, but also reminds me that I must forgive. Honestly, it was just a job. It may have taken me by surprise, but God was not shaken or stirred by this. And if the Creator of all humanity can forgive me, and Jesus can forgive Judas I can forgive them.

“When you pray for your enemies, it redirects your heart from the offender’s faults to the offender’s need for restoration.” 

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore