When you’re caught up in the difficulties of life, it’s often difficult to see the things that shine through the cracks in what you want to be a perfect life. I feel like a “perfect” or a “normal” life, without difficulty, without challenge, would be rather boring. Also, if life were easy, how on earth would I know what it’s like to really depend on the One I want to learn to love the most? I say “want to learn to love” because I’ve re-learned that my love for God is so small and so imperfect compared to His love for me that it can only be compared to an elementary education whereas He is the professor, the genius, the One who has to learn no more in study and application of that which is perfect love.
“Okay Hunter, where are you going with this.”
Well I’m glad you asked 🙂
There’s something that my earthly father just doesn’t have when compared to my heavenly Father, and this goes without saying. God is perfect in every way. He loves perfectly, disciplines perfectly, answers perfectly, orchestrates perfectly, and everything beyond this. He does all things well. So I’ve learned that it’s entirely unfair to humanity, especially my own father, to compare them via their actions and words to my heavenly Father. I promise I have a point in all of this.
Today I was doing Zumba in my living room (yes, it looks as funny as it sounds), and I was contemplating how challenging tomorrow is going to be. My father is coaching Gracie and Jimmy’s soccer teams, girls’ and boys’ teams, and he’d asked me to be the female assistant coach until I leave for college. This “position” includes doing everything the players are doing, from running to scrimmaging and from push-ups to jumping jacks. I was thinking about how difficult wrestling on my father’s wrestling team was when I joined the team my senior year in pursuit of writing a book about wrestling. And then, as I reminisced about how much I enjoyed the challenge of practices, the feeling of victory after winning a drill and even, at the end, winning a match, and how good hard work and sweat and, yes, even blood, tasted at the end of each practice, I realized something very important:
My Dad is awesome.
Lately I have (leaning on God’s wisdom and love and absolute grace) been practicing deliberately loving my family members despite themselves and myself. We’re all a little rough around the edges. We all have hard heads and have our own creative and effective ways of doing and responding to different things. But I know, because I’ve witnessed it, that underneath the “yeah, I know’s”, the “well, that’s what I said, isn’t it?’s”, and the “okay whatever’s” we’re reaching out for each other to respond in kindness, even though our words are less than gentle. Or at least I know that’s how I am.
So I’ve decided to not wait any longer for others to extend a loving arm to me. I want to love them first, even if they don’t care for or love me back. I’ve already fallen on my face a few times because I’m naturally rebellious and HATE to be the one to apologize first and HATE being told I’m wrong, but God is gracious and patient when it comes to helping me…and oh am I so glad He doesn’t think I’m a lost cause.
Anyway, the other night I was asleep and something knocked up against my wall. Now, my house is old; it creaks and settles in the night and sometimes my room makes weird noises. But this was a hard bang against one of the family heirlooms hanging from the wall above my head. I slowly opened my eyes, listening to a fluttering sound paired with an odd squeaking noise that sounded like…
Yep. There was a large bat flying in figure-eights around my room near the ceiling. The first thing I thought was how, exactly a year ago, I’d faced a bat in the basement, and my attempt to slay the stupid thing was far from successful. Anyway, so I turned on my lamp and grabbed my latest read from my bedside. I know I know, what in the world is a novel going to do against a speedy bat? Look, it was three in the morning and I’m not trained in bat extermination.
I tried once or twice to hit it, but it flew into my face and kept coming lower and then flying near the ceiling, avoiding my swings.
Me: Nope. I can do this by myself. I don’t need to wake up Daddy. I’ve got this. I’m gonna have to kill bats and all sorts of nonsense when I move out in the future, so I might as well get used to it.
I covered my head with my book and shuffled across my bedroom floor, opening my door, slipping out into the hallway, and shutting the door behind me before the bat had time to escape.
Tip-toeing down the hall to my father’s room, I hesitantly knocked on his door. I felt bad for waking him up, and I felt like a completely helpless idiot for not being able to handle the situation on my own. But before I heard my father’s muffled words from the other side of his door, I said a quick prayer, remembering that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t handle it: God placed people in my life who could handle it much better than I, and this was an opportunity for me to learn how to, even with something so small, depend on someone else.
We searched for the tennis racket with a flashlight (our ceiling fan/light thing in the laundry room, where we keep the tennis racket and broom, is currently missing its bulb…don’t ask) and grabbed a broom before heading back upstairs. My dad wonderfully and bravely slipped into my room with the racket in one hand and the broom in the other. I felt like a princess watching her father going off to slay a dragon for her. Corny, I know, but hey, it’s how my brain works.
I heard rustling and aggressive movements from inside my room for a few moments until my Dad called to me, asking if I had anymore light in my room. I offered to come in with a flashlight, but I was answered with the sound of repeated poundings on my bedroom floor and a maniacal, but incredibly comical, laugh.
Hearing my father laugh sent relief through me, and I felt less terrible about waking him up to kill the bat for me. As I cleaned up my bedroom floor (I know, I was pretty grossed out too), I marveled at how blessed I am with my parents, especially my father. We don’t always see eye to eye, and, as I’ve said before, our relationship has never been mushy or anything like that, but I know my Dad loves me.
Today, as I thought on these things, I couldn’t help but think about how many kids don’t have Dads like mine. And then I couldn’t help but wonder if they knew that, even though they don’t have a good earthly father, they have a heavenly Father who loves them infinitely more than an earthly father ever could. I wonder if they know.
God does this thing where He reminds me that people will always let me down, but then He makes up for the times when they do, showing me that though everyone around me will change, though they’ll fail and fall and falter, God will never do any of those things. He will never fail me, never let me down. But He’s taught me with this that even though we’re less than perfect, God has given us a capacity to love one another that serves us every day. I see it in how my father slays a bat for me at three in the morning, and how Jimmy is gracious towards me even when I offend him, and how my Grandma looks at me when I surprise her with a visit on a sunny afternoon. If human love apart from God is commendable, how much more so is human love through God? If human love through God is this wonderful, how much more so is the love of God?
“If God’s love is made perfect in us, we can be without fear on the day when God judges the world. We will be without fear, because in this world we are like Jesus. Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is his punishment that makes a person fear. So his love is not made perfect in the one who has fear. We love because God first loved us.”
—1 John 4:17-19 ESV