I decided to take a class at my church titled “making peace with your past”. Now i have always thought that my past was peaceful, but it is my present that has been the grand and uncertain adventure. But we read the first chapter of the book and I realized all of us have some oddity in our families, and those shortcomings affect who we are as adults, and how we live our lives.
And how we learn life from our parents affects how we filter everything we see, do and sense. That includes how we understand that God is our father. My dad was a hard working man, but it is only now as an adult that i look back in my memory and realize that he was deeply scarred by World War 2. He was a courageous paratrooper in the European theatre of war. I had never thought about it before, but there was a part of him that was not able to deal with tender times. Now he was a good man, and an engaged father, but his interactions were often one sided… telling me how something will be, or sharing his expectations only.
I realized that I have been viewing what a father is through these images and impressions. And I have been limiting God by thinking of him as a hard working post office worker who loves to drink beer and does not deal with the shadows of war memories that follow him. I loved my father, and tried hard to live up to his standards and hopes. But it is only now, at 52 years old that I look back with a sense of sadness that war can break down something deep in the core of a person that seems to forever prevent them from fully loving, fully participating in life again. And I have been thinking about my dad often this week. He did the best he could with the knowlege and abilities he had. And his best was good, but i grieve the thought that he never really made peace with the war he fought so valiantly through.
I never told you this while you were living – I am so proud of you, of your life, your work, your family and all the ways you showed me that you valued and loved me. I wish there was something I could have said or done to ease the memories of the war that followed you, limited you, haunted you. War is not easy, and not good, but you fought for freedom, for all things good and for the very freedom I continue to enjoy. I am so thankful for you.