I've been thinking about this post for about ten days now.
Two Wednesdays ago (I think), my dad posted something similar to this as his facebook status: If you've had a daughter that has touched your life, post this as your status. Daughters are an amazing gift. He then added: 'Thank you, Jessica, for the sunshine that you bring to my life and the lives of so many others!'
I needed to hear that on that particular day. My dad has a way of saying the right thing when I need to be reminded of truth. When I was a college freshman and trying to figure out my path in the world (and not always selecting the best path), he wrote me a letter. God has used that letter in so many ways. In that letter, he told me about the joy that I had brought to him, the concerns he had for me as his daughter (knowing the ways of the world). It wasn't preachy; it was just honest. I read that letter over & over again when discouraged - in college and after - or when I just needed a reminder that life is worth the wait. One thing he wrote was, "Jessica, you have an enthusiasm for life - and that enthusiasm is catching - so don't lose it!"
I love my dad. I have been blessed to have him as my father. Knowing my dad has helped me to know my heavenly Father. Often times, when I am talking with my dad about some situation where I need advice or to vent, I'll find myself saying, "God, it just doesn't make sense!" (then I correct myself because I'm talking to my dad, not God) It's easier to understand God's caring, providential heart for me because of my dad's generous, wise love for me. (My dad has not given me everything I have wanted - but I believe his example has taught me that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence to find aid when we need it.)
To say all this, shouldn't in any way take away from my love for my mother. I am equally indebted to her for the lessons she has taught me. Our relationship is different, though. She's the one that you want to talk to after you wreck your car - because as soon as you hear her voice, you know that you can just let it go. It's okay to cry. You don't want to talk to Dad right after something like that (you might get in trouble), but your mom - she'll give you a hug. :)
I believe that God has a design in families to point us to Him. I think of how I equally love and yet differently respond to both of my parents. I believe that we respond to our fathers as we respond to God the Father (fear & trembling, deep respect); and we respond to our mothers as we might respond to God the Son. In both, we respond to their strength, love, grace, mercy, justice, kindness & compassion.
I think the family is the first place that God displays His plan for us. I know that it was through my parents that I finally understood what it meant to 'live for Christ.' It breaks my heart that there are those who haven't known the love, provision & strength of their earthly father or the compassion & kindness of their mother. We have the choice to how we'll parent/love/discipline our children and how we'll respond to our parents...and we may not always do it "right." But, I do believe that God can use even that to turn us toward His heart, as well. We are but human; we cannot do it on our own. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence to find what we need, in the hour of our need.
In Deuteronomy, God says that the sins of father will be carried out through the third & fourth generation of children; but for those that love Him, He will provide for them through his covenant of love to the thousandth generation. Psalm 61:5 says, "You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."
Surely, God has graciously blessed me. I am humbled by that gift and responsibility. I pray that I will provide that same heritage for my children.
Thanks Mom & Dad, Grandma & Grandpa, and all who came before you.