A Dad story

When I was 19 and home for the summer, my father asked me to clean out his garage. While he was at work, I proceeded to pull everything out, wash down the floors, sort things into keep, give-away, and throw-away piles, and organize everything that was worth keeping as I put it away. After a hard day's labor in the Texas heat, I had the place looking pretty good! When my father arrived home, he immediately began pulling stuff out of the give-away pile that he thought he should keep. He even retrieved several items from the throw-away pile! Now, it should be noted that the things in the give-away pile, while potentially useful, had not been touched in years. The stuff in the throw-away pile was broken down and/or worn out and of no use to anyone, near as I could tell. But for almost every item, he had this idea that he might use it someday or be able to salvage parts from it to repair something else. By the time he had gone through everything, almost all of it ended up being kept. The garage was cleaner and more well organized than before I had started, but no less full or cluttered.

I was furious! "Why did you have me clean out the garage if you were just going to keep all this junk? If I had hauled it away before you got home, you'd have never missed it!" With many loud and disrespectful words, I told him exactly what I thought of him and his rules and his stupid sentimentality. He raised his voice as well, mostly to get a word in over my ranting, trying to explain that it was, after all, his stuff and he could keep it if he wanted to. We raised such a ruckus that my mother came out to the driveway to find out what was going on. She listened for a few moments, then began to cry, at which point, I exploded: "See what you did? You made Mama cry, you (expletive deleted)!" Mama finally calmed down, dried her tears, and asked us just to quit screaming at each other. So we called a truce for the moment, though I continued to hold onto my anger.

A few years later, after I had grown up a little, I would remember that day every once in a while. Every time I did so, I regretted treating my father so shabbily. After I was out on my own, I sat down with him during a visit and apologized for the things I had said that day, the names I had called him, the disrespect I had shown. I will never forget his response. He said, “I don’t remember that. I remember you cleaning out my garage and I appreciated it, and I remember keeping a couple of things that were probably trash, but I don’t remember anything you would need to apologize for. If it was bothering you, then I’m glad you said something but I guess I must have already forgiven you.” And he meant it! I began describing details of the incident and he honestly had no recollection of the events. “Love is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:5. I learned something about forgiveness that day. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” – Hebrews 8:12. My dad modeled godliness and integrity for me on a regular basis, not that I always appreciated it.

And that’s the thing. Opportunities to exercise grace arise regularly, but are not always obvious. In fact, they usually require Holy Spirit guidance to recognize and navigate. The path God has invited us to walk is not the easy one. It requires humility and sacrifice. Whether you are breaking a bad cycle and setting a new standard for your home, or blessed to be standing on the shoulders of giants, I pray you seek and accept His invitation today.