Fathers and Forgiveness

I’m thinking about my Dad as Father’s Day approaches.  He was a wonderful man, although I didn’t realize it until I had children of my own. Growing up, my father and I had polar opposite personalities, and I was a bit of an anomaly to my dad.  I was the youngest of three, and the only girl and so he thought I should be a “refined lady.”  Instead I was a Tom-Boy and tagged along with my older brothers and climbed trees, played Cowboys and Indians with the boys, and played Three-Flies-Up on the neighborhood streets.  No dolls for this gal! 

My dad never quite understood my bubbly, outgoing personality or introspective thoughts.  He never came to one of my high school volleyball or softball games, nor did he come to watch me play when my high school softball team won the CIF championships my Junior year of high school. I even hit the winning run, no less! Likewise, I never quite understood him either, and couldn’t relate to his rigid, black and white thinking. 

He was an aeronautical engineer who had a pocket protector that held his mechanical pencils. I eventually learned that encouragement wasn’t in his DNA because his analytical mind and engineering background wired him to look at how something could go wrong or analyze how something would fail.  His lack of relationality was hard for me since I’m wired for relationship and he was practical, analytical, loved routine, was linear, didn’t color outside the lines and ate the exact same thing every day for lunch. So we didn’t speak the same language and as a result we didn’t enjoy a particularly close relationship during my childhood.

After I married and had kids, my parents moved to Northern California to be near us, and to be close to their only grandkids.  My son developed a love for Papa that was endearing.  “Mommy, Papa can fix anything!”  I learned to appreciate his practicality and the fact that although we didn’t speak the same language of love he still loved his family and cared for us by providing for us financially and with a wonderful home.  He wasn’t exactly knowledgeable in the emotional and spiritual aspects of supporting and raising children, but you do the best you can with what you’re equipped with.  As a grandfather, he loved his grandkids and spent a lot of time making up for lost time. I think he had regrets about things towards the end of his life, but being the practical guy that he was he chose not to dwell on it.  He died in 2001.

Could my Dad done better as a father?  Sure he could have. Could I hold onto bitterness and unforgiveness for things he wasn’t programmed to understand? Absolutely…and I dabbled in that for a season.  Could I bash him after he was gone and blame him for being the reason for my own lack-luster ability to be more of a positive encourager with my own kids?  Oh, that would have been the easy thing to do. But what I am learning is that the key to successful relationships (especially parental ones) is forgiveness and grace.  There’s that word grace again.  Ugh.  Grace!  Giving my Dad something that he certainly didn’t deserve!  But what if I want to hold onto the resentment for a little while longer until I’m feeling better and THEN I offer him grace when I’m good and ready?  Nope, that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

The place that I’m at now is this:….I certainly don’t deserve forgiveness from my Heavenly Father, but he outlandishly offers it to me.  And so today I choose to offer grace and forgiveness to the man who cared for me the best he could as my earthly father. It was the only way he knew how and I will continue to allow God to heal any broken places in my heart that need mending.  The happy ending to the story is that we eventually enjoyed a time of comfortable relationship; the outgoing bubbly daughter with the black-n-white unrelational father. Now that is God’s grace in action.

So today I will say “Happy Father’s Day” to my Daddy and rest in the knowledge that my Heavenly Father offers me the best love and support my earthly father couldn’t give me.  So it’s a win-win.  Forgiveness is for me to offer, and when I have trouble walking through that all I have to do is ask God for help.  And forgiveness is also for my sweet Dad.  

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Oh….and by the way….guess who now is just as linear as her dad?  I seriously want to roll down my car window and reprimand people whose bumper stickers aren’t placed evenly in the middle of their bumper. I’m also the one who is adjusting the pictures hanging on your wall when I come to visit. And guess who eats almost the exact same thing for lunch every day?  Uh huh.  However, I DO draw the line at pocket protectors!  Just sayin’. 🙂

Always in the grip of grace.

Vic and Ruth Sorensen
50th Anniversary
* This blog is a reprint of one I wrote in 2014 on Father’s Day.  I thought it appropriate to remember.


Do you remember when you were just barely old enough to see over the edge of the kitchen table?  I remember as a child so wishing that I were tall enough to look eye level over the counters in the kitchen, and when I finally got a little older and a little taller I felt like I had arrived!  I had made it to that place in stature where I could see what was going on above the table tops with the grownups.  That didn’t mean I had graduated away from the kids table at Thanksgiving dinner, but it meant that I had reached a milestone and I could pretend I was one step closer to being a grownup.

As an adult now, I find these situations continue to happen to me still. It’s that way with coffee.  My parents grew up drinking coffee, and when I first tried it (and consequently spewed it out) I wondered how I was ever going to be taken seriously in life if I couldn’t drink coffee like everyone else did.  I tried over and over again to stomach it’s taste, but felt like such a grownup failure.  I threw copious amounts of sugar and cream in with the coffee, and still couldn’t come to a place of relationship with it.  Everyone told me that I would get use to the taste when I went off to college and had to stay up late studying, but since I didn’t do a lot of late night studying, that never happened.  So the draw of Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee isn’t a thing for me.

However, I’m so excited because there now IS a coffee drink that I can order at Starbucks that makes me feel like I can pretend I’m a grownup.  I order it when I’m working off site and need a place to work, or I’m heading out of town with girl friends.  In reality, it’s really a watered down version of a milk shake, but it has the word Frappuccino in it, so I can look like I’m as cool as the other kids on the playground.  Deception is the key.  “I’ll have a Grande double java chip with vanilla…and light whip“.   Don’t I sound so cool?

It’s also that way with wine.  Again, I grew up in a home where my parents had mixed drinks almost every night, and then they learned to appreciate a good wine.  As a child, I would dip my little finger into their drink to see what all the fuss was about with these alcoholic concoctions, and my face would contort and my eyes would squish closed at the horrid reaction to the taste.  That was probably God’s way of protecting me through my high school and college years, because that reaction stuck with me.  Now, as my husband and I have tried new and delicious foods and beverages throughout our marriage, he has come to appreciate a good dark beer, and a good cabernet.  Me…I’m such a wuss and a good wine is completely lost on me.   Again, though, I’ve learned that with a super sweet Moscato I can pretend to be as sophisticated and fool some people into thinking I’m a wine connoisseur.  So our wine rack at home has several bottles of Casteggio Provincia DeiPavia Moscato.  Did you see how I did that?  I threw all those Italian words out there so you’d think I was very grown up.  My friends aren’t so easy to fool.  Cindy No. 3 is a wine enthusiast, and she says that Moscato is like drinking cough syrup.  Sigh.  Again…I’m not fooling anyone.

So how does coffee and wine and trying to pretend like I’m someone I’m not coincide with grace?  Well, I think once again it has to do with our constant desire to want people to think better of us than we really are. I get stuck in that place more often than I want to admit, but I’m learning that the grace of transparency is so freeing. My tendency is towards not letting people see beyond a certain layer, because the truth of who I am and my problems will change your mind about who I am. But when I try to go the other way and I let you see my hardships and trials, doors open up and we all realize that we are more relatable to one another when we let you see the foibles and warts. Rather than worrying about what we might lose by others seeing the truth, we find that we gain way more in the transparency.

This has happened to me several times this past year. I ended up sharing some scary details about my life, and lo and behold, the people I shared with were going through the exact same thing. God’s grace in action.

I’m no Mother Teresa, but I want to be more relatable to those around me. It’s the small things that speak love and encouragement into another’s life. A smile. A touch on the arm. A compliment. A hug. A hand up. We don’t get national recognition for those kinds of small things, but it doesn’t make them any less valuable or important. They add up and matter to the people who receive them, and they make us way more relatable. They break down barriers and let people know that we aren’t any less needy than they are. That we are bumbling through this life just like they are and no one is any better than the other. It allows me to be free to be me….a cracked pot that’s leaking and I’m paddling like crazy under the surface just to make it until dinner time. Me, who spews out coffee and drinks cough syrup. Me, who is flawed and unpolished. And perhaps there’s someone out there that is the same as me and has no idea what a Iced Half-Caff Ristretto Venti 4-pump Sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce Soy Skinny Latte is. I mean really!

It’s in the pouring out of yourself that you find Jesus. It’s in the giving grace to others around you that allows others to find him too. So I guess I’m getting closer to being a grownup and I don’t need to pretend anymore. And I’m OK with drinking sweet wine (hence the picture above that hangs in my kitchen) so I guess you can be a grownup and still like sickeningly sweet beverages. But please don’t get me started on margaritas. Yum!

Do some small things with great love. Help somebody. Maybe just smile….and you will find Him.” ~ Mother Teresa