A Father’s Love {For When We Are a Disappointment}

It was a quiet little conversation, snuck away from the splashing of the pool.

I remember disappointing my parents…

And all our hearts sake with the heaviness of memory and the weight of prophetic awareness; my kids too will feel this one day. We’re called the sandwich generation–those caught between the care of their kids and the care of their parents. I think it’s more that we are squeezed like peanut butter and jelly between the expectations, {both past and present}, of previous and future generations.

It’s why so many of us have taken over the family business or followed in the footsteps of their mom or dad. It’s not that we grew up without dreams of our own, it’s that we couldn’t shake that ever-persistent ache to have our parents be proud of us. Cinderella got her glass slipper and at last she was transformed into the princess her daddy had always longed for her to be.

So what happens when the glass cracks? So what if Cinderella decides she’d rather paint pumpkins in the forest?  There is something oh so very powerful in every child that wants to make their parent’s dreams come true. 

I don’t recall my parents ever indicating they wished that I would do something different, but I do know they always thought I could do more. The smart, the strong, the determined can always do more. I remember discussing some schooling options for my Master of Divinity with my dad when he interjected, “…for you Ph.D. you need to consider The University of a M.Div. Isn’t Enough.” That’s not the name of the school, but it didn’t matter. The point was well taken to the adult girl now shrunken into her six-year-old self: I need to do more or I’ll disappoint my dad.

At six, my parents put me into gymnastics. Why? My dad had been a collegiate gymnast. I was petite. Therefore, I must be destined to be the next U.S. of A.’s gold medal gymnast. Not the case. I was the klutziest child in my class. The concepts of grace, flow, and flexibility were lost on me at every apparatus. He never said it, but even a six-year-old knew that dad was throwing dreams out the car window like flavorous,over-chewed gum.

We all have our stories, right? We have our questions, even today, no matter how old we’ve grown: Did our parents ever come to see us as we really are? That is, did they ever come to see us outside of what they thought we should have been or could have been? Are they proud of me?

When you dedicate countless hours to raising a little someone to walk, talk, and meet all the developmental goals of each stage it is  hard to one day release them to be the somebody they want to be. Parents are visionaries–they paint the pictures of bright tomorrows, but they do not always see all the possibilities.

Being a parent, helps me to see things clearer. I see that what has felt like expectation is really love. You know, a parent can’t help but look at a three-year-old’s finger painting as if it were a priceless Van Gogh. Love does that. Love makes the most of every effort and celebrates little successes. And somehow kids can’t help but get confused that the joy they see on their parent’s face is not all about what they do, but in fact is about who they are. That’s a perspective I only get as a mom whose heart has burst forth with love that’s takes the shape of “I am so proud of you!” 

No one ever tells you how complicated raising children will be. They never warn you that the hopes and dreams you have for your kids to flourish in life could also fall and crush them. They tell you parenting is not for the faint of heart, but forget to add that it is the most fragile thing you’ll ever do–you must breathe tenderly, move slowly, and grow hope in a greenhouse of possibility. The elements–ambition, competition, comparison–they will suffocate acceptance.

It’s with the words of honor and acceptance that the quiet kitchen conversation weaves us back around to a Father and His love. I feel a little undone inside thinking about His love. He loves us so perfectly. So extravagantly. I say a little pray, “Of Father, let my children know you love them so much and so much better than I have loved them. May Your love fill up the places my expectations have depleted. May they hear You say, ‘I am so proud you.‘”

And then I prayed it too for me and my friends tucked away in the sacred moment of memory and prophetic awareness.

1 thought on “A Father’s Love {For When We Are a Disappointment}

  1. Hello, good topic!!!! One thing that allows parenting to run smoother is communication, listening while educating. The expectations haunt us most of the time because we are too afraid to communicate our wants and desires. We forget that we are a part of the relationship and our parents have to also worry about disappointing us. Any great parent’s dream is to watch their child reach their potential for happiness. As parents we will dream of a creation that mirrors us but once we get out of the mirror and looking into our child’s heart, we will realize they are casting their own reflection. We will realize that we have created an extension that will continue to extend. Parent isn’t a science but it is a faith!!!!

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