A Dad’s persevering love

truth
Some of life’s most profound moments can happen in the most ordinary of moments. Like the time my entire life’s truth came undone in the kitchen last year.
I always believed I was unwanted.
A nuisance. The wrong gender, that my dad had wanted a boy and I was a disappointment.
Instead of the son I believed my dad longed for, he got a daughter as his only child. A fair skinned, freckled strawberry blonde daughter; he often shortened my name to Chris, only furthering this belief.
That afternoon at my kitchen table, decades of the wrong thinking came unraveled like a cozy sweater.
Warm and comfortable, but with one loose yarn, the entire thing came unraveled until I was free and understood the truth about myself.

I sat at an angle across from my dad as we sipped from our coffee. We were enjoying the slow-paced afternoon with coffee in my kitchen.

“Dad, do you remember that time that I was staying the weekend with you in Florida, when I was five or six years old, and we were both sick all weekend?”

Seemingly out of nowhere, as I stirred my coffee, a memory of this had flashed before me. “Yes, I remember that. I’m not sure if it was the flu, but you weren’t staying the weekend. It’s when you lived with me in Baton Rouge.”

I quickly shook that off, perturbed. “I never lived with you. I always lived with mom.” My parents divorced when I was very young, and I don’t have any memories of them together as a couple. My earliest memories are always with mom, and living with her.

Dad insisted. “Christi, you lived with me. You don’t remember?” Whatever, Dad. I wanted to know more about this sickly weekend and why we felt so bad. “What happened? Did we have food poisoning?” Dad persisted and asked again if I didn’t remember living with him, which I didn’t. I wish he’d stop saying that!

“Christi, I thought you knew. I thought you remembered. Or I would have told you and talked about it. I never brought it up because I didn’t want to bring up painful memories. I figured if you wanted to talk about it, you’d ask me.”

WHAT?! I sat there, stunned. “What?” I felt as if the world suddenly stopped spinning on its axis. Time had stopped for me. Again, I demanded, “What are you talking about?”

My dad, now over seventy years old, is gentle. He placed his hands on my knees and leaned in. “Christi,” He said my name, as if to stop the surreal experience that had my fragmented memories falling from the sky and bring me back to the present moment. “Christi, do you want me to tell you again what happened?”

 

He explained the early years of my life. My parents had separated when I was young as I’d remembered, but somehow I’d permanently altered other facts in my memory. I had, in fact, lived with my dad for some time.

He had custody of me and after a few years, before I was five, I moved back in with my mom and my new little sister.

I’d completely blocked this out of my memory.

I sobbed with relief as the truth washed over me. “You always wanted me.” He hugged me as I cried. We cried together as he patted my back, “Yes, you have always been my girl, I’ve always wanted you.”

“I never believed that. Now I know. You WANTED me. You FOUGHT for me. I MATTERED to you.” The tears were not from sadness, but more of a filling up that was happening in that very moment in my soul.

I pulled back and looked at my dad. “Do you realize that I’m forty-five years old, and my ENTIRE life I’ve believed the lie that you never wanted me? That you thought I was a nuisance and a mistake and you wished you’d never had me?”

We hugged and talked more. He assured me of the love that he’s always had for me, however imperfect. I felt as if I was walking on air for the next several weeks as I would sing-song to myself, “My daddy loves me. My daddy LOVES me!”

And for maybe the first time, I actually believed it.

 

As this reality has sunk in, the deeper reality of God’s love for me has permeated my soul and mind too. He is a Father, yet a perfect One. His love has persevered when I have believed Him to be mean. He has pursued me and fought for me. His love is costly.

Ordinary Miraculous Moments

No matter our relationship with our earthly dad, or lack of it, our Father God sees us, loves perfectly and powerfully. May we all let this truth sink in so we may live it out.

3 things running has taught me about discipline

truth

3 things running has taught me about discipline

If you ask me, running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is a little crazy. I’m not a total weirdo…the only reason that I started running 14 years ago was that I was bored with cardio machines. But training for these runs has taught me some great truths about discipline that applies to all of life!

If you’re not a runner, you can still glean insights from this, but without the sweat and pain! 🙂

Here are my top three:

1.To accomplish hard stuff (like running a half marathon), you have to do some hard stuff. This is for real. There’s a reason that only about 1.9% of the population has run a half-marathon this year. (source)  And only .05% have run a full marathon. (source)  The reason is that it’s hard. 

Long runs in sweltering summer months are brutal. Sweat pours down your forehead and into your eyes; it stings.You swallow gnats while running. When there’s no bathroom in sight, and you’ve gotta go, you (ahem) improvise. Sometimes it’s just hard.

2. Running a marathon or half marathon requires sacrifice. Training runs often start long before dawn breaks. It’s not always easy to go to bed early on Friday nights to get up for a 6:00am ten or longer mile run on a Saturday morning.

3. The sacrifices made now will pay large dividends later. Here’s an example: Last Sunday was the race day for the Houston Half-Marathon. I knew that I’d be running 13.1 miles. However, on my regular shorter training day, my running partner couldn’t join me.

Words can’t express how much I didn’t feel like going on my own. In fact, a slow and heavy sense of dread covered me. Here’s what got me out there to do it…I knew that the race on Sunday would be affected if I didn’t do my regular training run. In other words, I wasn’t running for Thursday as much as I was running for Sunday’s results.

THIS is my very favorite thing about running and the most important truth about discipline that running has taught me. I decided to push through the dread and the not-wanting-to and did it anyway!

Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as completing a long run when you just didn’t feel like it. This is true for all disciplines. You don’t have to WANT to do it, or FEEL like doing it. However, if you do it ANYWAY, you’ll reap the benefits!

2016-01-09 07.32.15

Long runs have their benefits! Quiet and beautiful sunrises like this one.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts

suffering, truth

Most of us have experienced things in our life that cause us pain. I have endured, survived, and thrived after pains, joys, traumas, and the normal ups and downs that are common to man.

For many years I struggled to make sense of traumas in my youth, abuses to me and to people I love. I agonized over trying to make sense and reconcile two realities that I know are true: God is love, and He was there; and there is real evil in the world and there are people who do horrible things.

I can’t tell you exactly when or how it happened, but one day I suddenly realized that I no longer was pained over these two coexisting realities. Glorious freedom and peace ensued. It’s not that I had it all figured out, but just that I made peace with the fact that I would never figure it out.

However, I am faced with the frustration of this type of thing again with physical limitations in my health. I do know that God is love. He is fully aware of my plight and cares for me. At the same time I am not fully healed. This causes me to feel as if my brain is on overdrive at times.

I know that you and I cannot make sense of evil and sickness and suffering in the world and the truth that God is real, He is present and He is all-powerful. My assignment for myself this week is to stop thinking so much and to stop trying to make sense of it all.

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Does it ever feel like your brain looks like this? Mine sure does!

Instead, I will meditate on truths that are real and unchanging. God is good.

Psalm 119:68

You are good, and what you do is good; 

teach me your decrees.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

 

Photo credit: charlottesiems.com

 

The power to change a life

Christianity, Jesus, new creation, righteousness, sin, truth

Wow. I had a moment recently. Have you ever been talking with someone, and as you are saying something you think is factual, the real truth will wash over you? I was talking with my college-aged son about a heinous crime that was on trial. My son is very compassionate and insightful, and he had a much kinder perspective than me. He sympathized with the victim, but also the accused. He emphasized that the accused is a human being, a person with value and feelings….I interrupted, not surprisingly, to argue my point. Yes, the accused is a person made in God’s image. BUT, they must stand before a judge to face the consequences of any wrong-doing. I emotionally presented my case; I was so certain I was right that my fingers may have been in my ears as I talked, wanting to block out anything else he was saying.

It was then that the real truth came over me, making my face feel flushed as it went downward to my chest. I realized that I was judging someone by one of their worst acts. What if you judged me by my worst acts, my worst habits, or thoughts, or attitudes? I would certainly be convicted of being a horrible human being. You would cease to remember anything good that I have ever done, because the horror of the bad things would overshadow any good. I think I suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence, but I’m not sure. Then I told my son, “Hold on, I am having a God-moment.”

If you were to judge me by the worst things I have done and said, I would be GUILTY

I saw myself clearly for a moment. If Jesus’ blood and righteousness had not ever covered my sin, I would be toast, to put it very lightly. The power of Jesus Christ to change a life is almost indescribable. If you knew me just 15 years ago, you would certainly see that God has made me into a new creation. Not a perfect person, but definitely a NEW person. A person who thinks and acts and believes differently than the old me. And now, because of the power of Jesus to change a life, when God looks at me He doesn’t condemn me to the burning pit that I deserve. Instead,  He gives me a new heart and mind, and looks at me as righteous because of His Son’s shed blood.   Does this sound a little churchy or weird? Don’t take my word for it. Check out what Scripture says in Romans 4, concerning the righteousness of God:

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (emphasis mine)