I got a clearer vision of God’s love through my father this week. It was a truth I’d known already but hadn’t quite understood.
You see, while I was practicing going in reverse and doing the three-point turn, I almost hit a parked car—Dad saved me by yelling at me to hit the brakes and by applying the hand brake (he saw the car before I ever did); the result was that the car made a scary noise and, together with my sudden braking, it jolted terribly. Needless to say, I was berated at length as I drove on through the quiet streets back home. It was a terrible drive.
The truth is that the overwhelming feeling of shame at my blunder was worse than the fright of having almost hit a car. I never in my life felt more stupid, and because I dreaded the look of disappointment in my dad’s face I dared not even glance at him. I was sure he would want me to return the car home. In fact, I was expecting him to tell me to get out of the car immediately and forget about ever driving here or in the world to come.
I turn into our street.
“Why are you turning here? There’s still time”
“I thought you’d want me to…” I don’t dare finish my sentence.
“Pull up over there.”
I obey, expecting the worst. We both get out and trade seats.
“Watch first. I’ll do it [again], then explain it step by step [again], then ask me all the questions.”
For the next few minutes he goes over the process again with a patience I didn’t know he had, pulling into as many driveways as necessary and answering all my questions until I finally understand it—in theory.
“Now you do it”
He ignores me and pulls over. We trade places once more. I beseech the heavens to help me before I even take the wheel. He tells me to be calm and helps me though the process.
And this time I am able to do it.
Time is running out by now so we return home. Thank goodnes I can park, at least.
“You’re too tense from this.” He says as I return the keys, “Go out and walk two turns around the park.” (there is one behind our house) “Breathe and relax, then come home and eat your breakfast. You did good.”
This just about kills me. I walk away, after murmuring numerous apologies, and hope he didn’t see me tear up.
Minutes later I’m walking in the park wondering why I’m crying like this. What affects me more? The shock of the near-miss? The shame of my blunder? Or is it the fact that Dad did not give up on me? That he told me I did good despite the near-hit? That he is being too kind to me? Yes, in part. But mostly it is because this brief episode opened my eyes to a sad truth. All these years I have been laboring under a misconception.
You have to understand that I grew up loving and respecting my father, but sometimes I resented him bitterly because his standards and rules of conduct for us (my sister and me) felt to be too high. He trained us with (what I thought to be) outmost rigor and discipline and which I often questioned because, in comparison to how my friends were brought up, it seemed too demanding. It was impossible to please him, and I often wondered if he could just love me as I was—just a girl who tries hard to do her best. Still, It was not good enough, so I became harsher towards myself than he ever was, and I became that more disillusioned in my inability to be better. As a result, there came a time when in my heart of hears I doubted my father’s love and trust AND my ability to ever live up to his expectations.
As I walk around the park and take deep breaths, I think and think over the episode (and pray in thanksgiving that I didn’t hit the car) a sudden truth sparks in my mind. This has taught me something deep about my heavenly father, and it makes so much sense to me
Do you think God is going to give up on you because you have failed in the past? Are you trying so hard to get his approval? You could never do anything that will make him love you more or less than he already does.
Do you think he has left you to struggle in this world on your own without any guide? Didn’t he suffer his only Son to come down to earth to lead in example, answer questions, and teach us to lead sinless and holy lives? He has sent the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us. We are never alone.
Do you think God is going to judge you—a contrite sinner—and treat you the way you deserve when you come into his presence seeking forgiveness? If you do, then you are also laboring under a misconception. Re-evaluate your view of God. He is not the stern, demanding deity you might think he is. He is your father. Yes, he will correct you, but he will never, EVER, give up on you.
And finally, Do you think that his law is harsh and expectations are impossible to live up to? By yourself and out of your own efforts it is impossible. But he is more than willing to help you in this respect! All you have to do is give him you hand with faith that he will lead you. Whosoever comes to me I will never cast out, for I have come down from heaven…that everyone who looks on to the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:37,40)