She quickly moved to make room on the counter for the groceries her father was bringing in. The scowl on his face told her he wouldn’t have much patience for waiting. When he’d hoisted up the last grocery bag, they both unloaded the food quietly.
She noticed that his complexion was looking healthier, a little more rosy, a little less gray. At age 72, any less gray was an improvement, she thought.
“You look good, Dad. How have you been feeling?”
“Shut up. Can you just shut up, please?” he grumbled.
Her father’s words were amplified by the look of disgust on his weathered face. She felt the sting as though she’d been slapped.
“Dad, I’m trying to encourage you,” she said. “I’m just saying you do look a lot better since you quit smoking.”
“I don’t feel any better, okay,” he snapped. “I wish you would stop talking and leave me alone. Go away.” He waved his hand as if wiping the image of her from his presence.
He turned his back to her, furiously unpacking the food.
She stood in his dusty kitchen, watching a line of sugar ants march along the edge of the sink, wanting to believe it was only the withdrawal of the addiction steering his mood, but she knew it wasn’t that. For all the forty-year span of her existence here on this earth, as long as she could remember, her father had been predominantly angry.
She couldn’t forget the younger years of hot heavy dread at the sound of her father’s car pulling into the driveway in the evenings. How she and her mother would scatter, scrambling to the refuge of their bedrooms because when he entered the house, the air would leave the room. Depending on how his day went, anything would set him off. A messy room, the volume of the television; even the sight of a slouched posture or lack of eye contact could send him into a relentless tirade. On bad days, his wrath was unbearable. On good days, she was grateful to skirt by him without much interaction at all.
At seventeen, she’d left home to live on her own, mainly to escape the stifling atmosphere he created in the household. She stumbled into young adulthood with her eyes closed, feeling her way through most of it. She made terrible mistakes, some of which were life altering, leaving her feeling ashamed beyond measure and terrified of God. She couldn’t understand the love, grace or forgiveness offered by God, the Father. She could only imagine His wrath, punishment and rejection. So, she hid from God in the bedroom of her heart, hoping to skirt by him without much interaction at all.
Isn’t this a perfect example of how some of us can come to such a distorted view of our heavenly Father?
Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Unlike her earthly father, God did not pound on her hearts door, demanding she open it. It was His loving, patient persistence. It was years of quiet gentle taps that finally convinced her to open the door and let Him see the mess she’d made. To her sweet relief, He didn’t condemn her; He knelt down softly beside her and began cleaning up. He scrubbed at the sticky self-loathing until it left no trace. He folded up the dirty shame of each mistake, put them in a box and carried it away. He carefully tended to her bruised spirit and thoroughly washed her soul until she felt fresh and new again.
He does the same for us all.
This is our Father.
God is powerful, yet He is so gentle. He nurtures our spiritual growth with a quiet loving understanding and His character does not change like the wild blowing wind. He is steady and constant. He can be trusted. When He is near, don’t hide from Him. Run to Him, get as close as you can, curl up on His lap and never leave His loving arms. God is your refuge. God’s love is stronger than your pain. Stay close to Him. And cling to this truth, precious daughter- There is no wound, this fallen world can inflict in you that your heavenly Father can’t heal. Be still and listen. Can you hear the tapping?
Her first passion is God. He makes her world brighter, her days joyful, and her heart tender. Once her spiritual eyes were opened, His presence all around her was undeniable. She’s committed to writing about how she sees Him at work in the smallest places, the unlikeliest people, and the most impossible circumstances. Miracles are happening everywhere. God blessed here with the perfect for her, husband, a grand partner in life, who sharpens her spirit and makes her laugh daily. Not just laugh, but inspires guttural, can’t breathe, pee in her pants giggle fits. They have three loving children, who share the same birthday, even though they were born years apart. She can’t imagine life any better than when all of them are home together.
Find her @ michelleathens.com