My mom had surgery on her knee last Friday to repair two tears. She was in too much pain to go to church so we had to take the day off–I didn’t feel right going without her. Needless to say my dad was THRILLED to hear we weren’t going to church. Every Sunday he’s mad that we go. Any time something has gone wrong with our cars he gets a power trip knowing that if for whatever reason we can’t afford it–that there’s a chance we will be unable to drive to church.
Anyway, this Sunday even though she was still in pain we didn’t want to miss church again. That started an argument when we got home and my dad threatened (in typical fashion) to not pay an important bill. Now my brother is mentally ill and on disability–he can barely afford his own bills. My mom is recovering from a surgery and isn’t working. Then there is me and my dad. When he fails to come through–I don’t have a choice. I.e. if he doesn’t pay the car insurance, I have to. If he decides he doesn’t feel like food shopping and only buys food for himself while he is out, I have to.
I have been doing this for so long that although it isn’t fair–I’m used to him not coming through.
As I drove my mom this morning to pay the bill before I needed to drive back home to catch my bus to work, there was a group of landscapers sitting on our stoop. They do this every morning for as long as I can remember. I usually avoid them completely by going out the back but I’ve been parking in the front of the building because it’s easier for my mom to get to with her bad knee. Anyway. We barely open the door and the rowdiness starts. “How does it feel to be the breadwinner of the family”, one says to me. “Did you guys go to church the other day?”, says another. One makes a mockery of how my mom is limping to the other guys and says “Heal me!!!! Heal me!!!!”. As much as I genuinely don’t care what these people think of me or my family it’s just the fact that they are so hateful. Between living with my dad and his abuse and then the neighbors and other people in the area–it gets old. I’m not ignorant to say we’re the only ones who go through this, but so often it can feel like you are totally alone as a Christian. That somehow other people are on the shortcut, the paved path, and you are on the road less traveled. It’s not pride. It’s confusion. Why did you bring me here? Why am I here? Where is the relief?
After texting a few of my friends from church for prayer–one told me to pray for my dad. Ugh—right? Anything but THAT. I don’t hate my dad, but I can’t honestly say that I like or respect him. He resents being a father, a husband, and 9 out of 10 times he has something negative to say about you or a situation. I waited until I was really groggy before bed and sent up a quick prayer. Something honest like “I don’t want to pray for him, he doesn’t deserve it, but soften his heart to pay the bill..I don’t have anything in my account. I haven’t been paid yet.” Not verbatim, but to the same effect.
1 John 4 tells us that if we claim to love God but harbor ill feelings toward our brothers and sisters we are liars. If you can’t love the people you see how can you love the God you cannot see? And quite frankly that verse is awful–because who really wants to love someone who is awful? For me it’s easy to love strangers, I like people, I can even like people who don’t like me. That’s fine. But it’s a whole different story to be kind to people who go out of their way to spew garbage on you. Who deliberately want to make life harder for you.
When I woke up today my mom showed me the cash my dad left on the couch this morning for the bill. In a way–cool right? An answer to my half-hearted prayer. But in another way it’s still unsatisfying because he pulls this all the time. And a good percentage of the time–he doesn’t give the money enough to trust that he may have a blow-up but it will fizzle and he’ll come through. He’s not that trustworthy unfortunately.
However I am grateful for this time. And through gritted teeth I will try to pray for my dad every day–a task that honestly–I don’t look forward to.
Luke 6:37-38The Message (MSG)
37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.
But I will remember that ultimately it isn’t for my sake, or my dad’s sake, I merely just want to honor God. Like this photo says I want my Heavenly Father to be proud and look at me and say “That’s my girl”.
Photo Credit: flickr.com