In the last blog, I told you about my father leaving my mother, and returning without an explanation.
I was quick to judge, but I was also struggling to define my adult self, and where I stood in relationship with both my earthly Father my heavenly Father (God).
The church family where both my parents were raised, and where they raised us, was very strict in the approach to right and wrong. Dancing, going to movies, playing cards – all led to worse sins and were not allowed.
My maternal grandfather was a minister. I loved my grandparents more than I can say, and they were both a huge positive influence in our lives.
However, in the early to mid 1900s, this type of legalism abounded.
One time my grandpa (the minister) looked at my oldest sister, Terri, in horror – “Oh no! Not you! Toenail polish.” As the eldest cousin, she was supposed to be the shining example for all of us. (Maybe being a middle child isn’t so bad…). Yup, toenail polish was not on the good list back in the day.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age, but I was never sure I was good enough. Any type of perceived sin on my part could mean I “fell from grace”. I think I was very confused.
There were great things about the church and denomination I went to the first 18 years of my life. I was given a solid foundation in the Bible, and I developed a faith in God that sustains me to this day. I have life-long friends from my childhood church. However, the focus back then was less on grace and more on “doing”. (I just heard a sermon from this topic from our minister; he was raised in a similar manner. He pointed out that now many churches have swung the other way – where almost anything goes!)
I bring this up, because I was never sure of God’s love, and that I was eternally his child.
If right and wrong were based on what I did, why not just go ahead and sin?
I’m not blaming my church or my parents for my bad choices, I was an adult, and fully capable of knowing right from wrong. As time went on, I learned more about God’s grace of forgiveness. And now I know without a doubt that when I die I will spend eternity with God.
Listen to this song by Ryan Stevenson, “No Matter What”. He can articulate what I am trying to say far better than me.
Back to Dad and me – there were a lot of missteps in our dancing in those years. I was sure he was stepping on my toes on purpose.
Now I wonder, was Lewy already creeping in? Was his brain changing even in his 50s and 60s? Was he in mid-life crisis, male-menopause? Was he tempted, making bad choices? And why did I imagine myself the judge of his decisions?
Dad was his ambitious but humorous self, and generally people adored him.
Dad walking me up the aisle at my wedding. Dad after my youngest sister’s wedding.
Dad with various grandchildren. Note the hairpiece!
Life went on; through the next decade I was busy with work, family, volunteering, and not paying a lot of attention to what was happening with him. Little did I know what was ahead.