Random Blog Clay Feet: January 16, 2008
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Honor Your Father...

Yesterday I was working at the church and school near where I lived growing up and where my parents spent the rest of their lives as well. I was disassembling some cabinets that my own Dad had likely installed years before and discovered a strange setup that I suspect he may have done. A wire was run inside and through the back part of the cabinets from one side to the other and connected somehow to a switch mounted just inside the door of the last cabinet. On the end of the wire where it began was a plug that was plugged into a receptacle on the wall and at the other end was another receptacle mounted in the far side of the last cabinet. The switch was designed to turn off one half of the receptacle and had scotch tape over the switch to prevent anyone from turning it off.

It became pretty obvious why the tape was on the switch when I found what was plugged into the receptacle, although it did not make a lot of sense to me. A refrigerator and a dehumidifier were plugged into the receptacle, so I suspect that if the switch was turned off there was a good chance that the refrigerator would go off and everything inside would be spoiled.

As was my typical reaction to such discoveries, I began to mumble to myself about how ridiculous and amateur this was and was reflective of the kind of thing my Dad would do. He was known for things like usually cutting off the ground spade on most of his extension cords so they could be plugged into the old-style two-pronged receptacles. He was very much a handy-man in some areas like electricity and plumbing and had often taken things into his own hands to install or repair.

I too have become much like him in learning a broad array of skills in different areas of the construction industry. In fact my Dad often told me that I should learn everything about as much as possible for it would serve me well later in my life and that is how I have ended up in the remodeling business. But I viewed myself as being more advanced than some of the seemingly crude practices of my Dad and I have sometimes thought a little, maybe demeaningly of him for doing things that seemed like a shortcut that was not as safe or advanced as they should be. This wiring job seemed a classic example of that.

As I was thinking these things while trying to disassemble the wires and get the cabinets apart so I could reinstall them somewhere else, a strange feeling began to come over me suddenly. I began to realize how negative my feelings are when I think these kinds of thoughts about my Dad and secondly I realized how easy it would be for my own son to have the same kind of attitudes toward many things that I do if he were to look them over. Then I thought how I might feel inside if I were to hear him express his dim view of my lack of skills and realized how put down or discouraging that would make me feel.

Of course, by extension I then realized that if my Dad were still alive and here watching me work that my thoughts and attitudes about his work would likely make him feel put down though he would not likely express it. In fact, if he were there watching the work I was doing to improve the very buildings that he had worked so hard to maintain and improve over the years he would have undoubtedly expressed a great deal of pride in what I was doing and would have been complimenting me on my skills and making me feel really good about myself. At this I began to feel really ashamed of myself.

All at once it became much more clear how much resentment and negative thoughts still hold sway in some unexposed dark corners of my mind about my own Dad, even though I have tried to let go of them and have chosen to forgive the abusive and neglectful mistakes he made while raising me as a child. As I thought about these things, that by now I realized were definitely being brought to my attention one by one by the Spirit of God, the fifth commandment flashed across the screen of my memory. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12 NKJV)

I suddenly realized with a surge of tears that I have not honored my Father and Mother very much in the way that I think and talk about their faults much more than their strengths, especially my Father. Conviction grabbed hold of me and I immediately confessed and agreed with the conviction and embraced it. I sensed that I have been still living under a curse because of this. I do not want to live in this darkness any longer, it has been poisoning my life far too many years and I want to live in the light of heaven instead. I want to – I choose to embrace my opportunity for freedom each time conviction offers it to me so I pleaded with God not to stop the conviction but to intensify it as necessary to help me become completely free.

At that point I was able to suddenly begin to have new feelings and memories about my Dad and remember him as a man who was someone I could be very proud to be his son. I felt impulses of desire to find ways to really honor this man who had worked so hard to overcome immense difficulties and enormous obstacles to raise a family under very difficult circumstances and with great personal handicaps. He had no father to mentor him and his mother had been herself a negative example of parenting. On top of that he had been very sickly growing up and had nearly died a number of times because of that. All of his life he had felt inferior and at a disadvantage to most everyone else but in spite of many odds had worked very hard to educate himself as best as possible and learn how to become a productive man and a decent Father and provider for his family.

Since he never had many advantages he had to work extra hard to just break even. This was also during some of the very difficult years of our country where many were struggling just to exist. Then he had to meet jealousy and subversive elements working to ruin his life and his livelihood and his reputation by the very people he was working for and was supposed to trust. In the parenting department, since he had no one to model his life after, he filled his mind with the Word of God and inspired writings trying to figure out the best way he could to raise five children in the fear of the Lord. Yes, he made a great deal of mistakes when it came to expressing love or administering discipline which caused his children to live their later lives with a great deal of baggage to overcome, but considering what enormous disadvantages he himself had come from he likely did much better than the average person would have done.

As I thought about these things while pulling apart the wires and cabinets I wondered what it means to honor someone. The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins. While I have learned that it is very important to my own healing journey to face clearly the mistakes of the past and those done to me by others, at the same time I also have to learn more about the true nature of forgiveness. Forgiveness is definitely not sweeping under wraps all the mistakes of the past and trying to pretend they did not happen or ignoring them. But after I have faced them squarely, taken full ownership of the pain and processed them correctly in the light of the cross of Jesus, I need to reframe them in ways that I am still learning about.

I also realized that I cannot manage this schedule of personal healing or rush its progress even though I wish I could be free much faster. This conviction happened at just the right time and God used this circumstance to give me an opportunity to deal with this issue more deeply. Somehow I sense that my heart has to “ripen” in my own experience to a point where I am ready for the next lesson; to attempt to jump ahead and try to learn something I am not quite ready for would simply mean I might have to revisit it several more times. I have to trust the timing of God to effect my healing in each part of my heart. My part in this process as I see it right now is to align myself properly with the Spirit of God each day and practice listening more carefully to the very quiet voice of the Spirit so that I can respond and cooperate with the lessons He has waiting for me that day.

I am almost reluctant to even put this into writing because at times it seems that the very act of writing and the necessary process of left-brain distillation needed to write things experienced in the heart tend to interfere with the right brains ability to operate freely without interruption. It is almost like my emotions and heart are stifled and inhibited by the paparazzi effect of being peppered with questions and inquiries from the left brain when they are busy trying to do something more important. Even while I was experiencing this lesson yesterday my left brain was leaping into the experience wanting to collect notes and take snapshots like an aggressive reporter and I had to consciously force it to refrain so that I could continue to listen to what the Spirit might want to further say to me. I did not want to spoil an experience of the heart by allowing the external nature of the left brain to take me out of the proper context of living from my heart.

The main reason I am even writing it now is because I do not want to forget what I feel is a very important experience of the heart and I do not trust my increasingly forgetful brain to remember it very long even though I very much want to keep it. So if I get it down in writing as accurately as my left brain can attempt it then I can go back and review the lessons from my past and refresh them in my heart. And just maybe it will also serve in a small way to begin to honor the man that did so much for me that largely went unappreciated during his lifetime.

It is a very important principle of growth that we are likely to repeat the mistakes of the past if we forget the way God has lead us in our past history.

I want to figure out how to honor my Dad more. I want to live being openly proud of him and feeling good about my memories of him. I began to experience that very much in the afterglow of this experience and I really enjoyed it. It was refreshing and liberating. I suddenly realized much more that he was a man with a good heart in spite of his mistakes and problems. There are many things about him that I can and should be proud of in spite of his mistakes.

It also came to me clearly and strongly when I was thinking about this that the feelings and attitudes that I entertain about my Dad react inside of me with the same effects that they would have had on him. In a strange sort of way he is still alive as an inescapable part of myself. Because I see so much of my Dad in my own actions and attitudes, whenever I disparage him I am disparaging his image that is clearly embedded in myself and I make myself feel inadequate and humiliated just as I would him if he were to hear those negative things spoken to his face.

I also realized that my negative and fault-finding habits toward my own Dad as well as toward many others creates the strong potential for a mirror replication of that in my own children and encourage those negative feelings in them toward me, their Dad. I am actually reproducing much of my own baggage that I have held against my Father in the heart of my own children by my fault-dwelling reminiscences about my Dad's faults and failings with me. God have mercy! I knew things were bad in my heart but this is really exposing it more painfully. I need grace and healing and deliverance and thank God He is in that very business full-time.

God, I present myself to You today – right now – in an offering of worship. I give you full access and permission to do whatever You want with me today and continue the work of healing and restoration of You image in me that You are doing. Help me remain tuned and undistracted today so that I do not miss anything Your Spirit is trying to reveal to me about Your heart and Your perspective. Help me to honor my parents in the right way without hiding from their mistakes. Connect me with Your heart of compassion and love and align my thoughts and feelings and attitudes with Your Law – the description of who You are. Fill me with the joy of Your presence today and make me a successful experiment of Your grace – for Your name's sake, for Your reputation.