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An Ode to my Father (On Father’s Day)

My Father… where do I start? Well…

As a young child my father and I weren’t exactly close. In fact I’d explain the extent of our relationship as awkward. My father didn’t know how to act with daughters and while he was still virtually in his youth, he wasn’t ready to give up the luxuries of his child free life when Rachel and I came along.

Despite his care-free lifestyle though, he was clearly head of household in our home. We *feared* him, but not in a physical way. My father set high standards for my sister and I and we both strived to meet them. And when we wanted something outside of our typical or reasonable requests, Dad was not the person we turned to, it was Mom.

He seemed unapproachable to us; someone meant to be taken seriously and not joked around with. And it wasn’t that he neglected us in any way, it was just that he couldn’t relate to us – girls. He was stuck in a house full of girls, when he’d grown up as one of four boys. Also, it’s just his nature to be loud and direct. He openly just stares at people when he sees fit, not concerned whatsoever with making the opposing person uncomfortable. And with his tone, even a real and passionate “I love you” sounded like a command. It didn’t sound like something one would feel with the emotions attached to the words. Quite simply, Dad was terrible at showing his affection for us.

But then, when I was about to enter 9th grade things changed. Dad found God… again.

He was raised Catholic, strict catholic that attended catholic school in PA until he moved here to MD, in high school. But as an adult he found himself questioning, not Christianity, but the catholic division of his base faith.

A neighbor of mine had asked me if I wanted to attend church with her one Sunday when I was a little girl and since her grandsons were some of my closest friends at the time I said yes. Aside from being somewhere different than my street with someone cool like my neighborhood friends, I loved Sunday school and church and I reveled in this with my parents when I returned in hopes that they’d take me every week. And surprisingly, they did.

Mom had actually attended this very church when she was a child (although it had grown quite a bit since she’d attended a service) and she was excited to return. We had tried out several different denominations of Christianity prior to that, sporadically on Sundays and found none of them worth returning to. But this one, a Baptist church, seemed to somehow ring home to my family.

Many of the members were older versions of the people my mother once knew. It made it easy to assimilate and reunite with familiar faces to her. And my Dad seemed gung-ho about this new arrangement. The church was technically within walking distance to our house, although we always drove, but we went every Sunday after that. And then, that summer before 9th grade my Dad wanted me and my sister to be baptized with him.

This request seemed reasonable to me. That very summer I had attended church camp at Camp Wo-Me-To and had accepted God one night during bedtime prayers (to myself). I hadn’t told anyone yet, but when my Dad finally wanted to reunite with God it made me happy to announce my already professed self. Rachel also came forward to be baptized in the name of Christ. It was truly a family moment, and more meaningful than I could have imagined at the time.

My Dad fully sought out God, more than any of us truthfully, and it officially changed the man I knew for the majority of my youth. My Dad became his servant, and every thought, every action my Dad did after that point was in the name of God. If you ever want to see visible proof in the way God can change a man, take a look at my father.

Our relationship wasn’t corrected overnight of course, but now my father and I have a far better relationship than I would have ever expected growing up. The same goes for his relationship with Rachel.

He’s still the strong head of household figure I always knew him to be, but his heart has softened a bit and allowed him to show love in a proper way. And he wants to be more involved, to relate to us more since in reality we both share a lot of things in common with him.

Witnessing these positive changes in my father has given me so much more respect for him than I had as a child. I look to my father for difficult decisions, he’s helped me create my career by leading me to follow in his footsteps, and when I’m in need of prayer or anyone important to me is, my Dad is the first person I ask to pray for me/them. It just feels like his absolute devotion gives him some sort of direct link to God. Even other people, people without faith, come to my Dad when they’re in a hard place, asking for his guidance and prayers. That has to say something about the way in which my Dad not only presents himself, but lives his life now.

While he still remains himself, he is a different person now than the one that brought me into this world and it’s all because of God. I have been and will forever be grateful for that day he “found” Him again because I don’t know where I’d be today without knowing the man my father is now.

*I love you Dad – Happy Fathers Day!*

Peace – Sarah

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