“My daddy would have been 102 on April 22…I still remember him asking me – when I was about 13 and we were riding in the car (just the two of us) – if I had considered asking Jesus into my life yet. He wasn’t pushy or persistent, just gentle, loving, and quiet spoken. (I learned at an early age that I couldn’t “ride into heaven” on my parents’ shirt tails.) He had a marvelous tenor voice and always led singing at the church we attended. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to have been loved by him.” (Sharlene MacLaren)
Tears welled up in my eyes when I read the following post on Facebook. My first thought was how blessed Ms. MacLaren was to have a daddy like that. My second thought was all the times I had yelled at my children, was impatient, or too hurried to take the time to have those types of conversations with them. Then, I thought: I bet Ms. MacLaren’s dad had his days where he was short tempered, irritable, and rushed. Yet, she still remembered him as being loving, kind, and quiet spoken.
My thoughts then turned to my marriage. When I think back over the fourteen years my husband and I have been married, I’m surrounded by thoughts of love. Give me ten minutes and a piece of paper and I’ll have a list front and back of all the great things about my relationship with my husband, the memories we have created, and the fun times we have experienced with each other alone or when we included our kids, friends, or extended family. Some big memories such as our trip to Disneyworld, but more importantly, little things like a back rub first thing in the morning, that lingering kiss either as we say goodbye or hello, camping in our backyard, or marathon family movie nights. Give me enough time and I’ll share about our joint dreams (some that have come true already and some we’re still working toward), our united faith and the shared thrill of discovering details of each other’s ever-changing spiritual journeys, “our song,” and cards he has given to me “just because.” I can’t forget to mention fun memories from our wedding, the three-mile hike on our honeymoon over volcanic rock, and the birth of three blessings from God.
Do I also remember the “not-so-fun” times? Sure. Give me the same ten minutes and blank piece of paper, but I will have to think a lot harder in order to list specifics. As I write down difficult times, joy still manages to find its way on that page as well. The time my husband came home early so I didn’t have to be told alone that our baby was no longer with us as well as the early morning (and late night) trips to the emergency room that included sharing private jokes while waiting to hear the diagnoses, knowing whatever answer given, we were in it together. Can’t forget to mention ways we got creative with our finances to help them stretch a little farther or one of us choosing to let an argument go when our nerves were shot, our defenses down, and bodies worn out.
That’s how God loves us. When we become His child, He sees us through the vein of Jesus on the cross. He still sees our mistakes, but He doesn’t dwell on them. He remembers the good about us, the positive qualities, and the ways we are becoming more and more like Him. In Hebrews 6:10, it states, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” God understands that we are human, we make mistakes, and we are covered by Jesus’ blood for our humanness.
That’s when it hit me. Yes, I may have my moments of irritation, stress, and crabbiness. That’s expected since none of us are perfect. However, if I want attributes associated to my name of “wife” and “mother,” and good memories to be the first thing my husband and children remember when they think of me, then I need to make sure to do two things consistently. The first is make sure the good times outweigh the bad. And the second is to admit when I’m wrong, being quick to ask for forgiveness.
My prayer in doing that is twofold. I want my children to realize that while it’s okay to mess up, asking forgiveness is important. It frees the person who committed the offense from guilt as well as the person who was offended from bitterness. And, no matter how messy life gets, attitude is everything. Learning to laugh is essential to moving past the hurt and seeing the blessings in life…and there are always blessing.
Thank you, Sharlene, for sharing about your incredible father. While you paid tribute to a man I can’t wait to meet in Heaven, you reminded me of the important truth that I don’t have to be perfect in order to leave a wonderful legacy of love for my children.
When perfection is taken out of the picture, I’m free to live loudly, love without restriction, mess up frequently, and make memories always. Thank you to my Heavenly Father who provides the best example of grace on a daily basis. Loving us despite our imperfections and helping us to love others with the same measurement.
Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell