Sunday, August 26, 2007

our fathers are our models for god

i talked to my dad on tuesday. it's amazing to me the level of dysfunction that existed under the guise (or perhaps in the disguise) of normalcy in our family. i am only beginning to grasp that now. how many lies we lived. and it has been with an increasing sense of shame and horror that i have watched as my father turned from this guy into this guy over the past year. i cried for the first time in over a year after i talked to him. my insides were twisted and i felt sick. i spent the next three days nearly immobilized with a deep sadness. and as my luck would have it, i also had the flu. but you know the interesting thing is that in the middle of all of this shit i am getting a clearer and more distinct picture of what being loved by jesus is all about.
i really shouldn't drop a line like that and leave it hanging. it seems so cheap doesn't it? it's almost a non sequiter. but i started this blog precisely so i could work these things out, and do it in a public fashion because there is nothing for me to hide anymore. i don't pretend to understand paul (wink wink) when he says he is the worst of sinners, i get it. that's all i used to get. in fact, that was where my understanding of the gospel ended. i do bad things=bad dude=not loved by god. perfectly rational. just not the gospel.
i can remember a good friend who used to look me in the eye and tell me he loved me. it was all i could do to keep from laughing/crying/punching him on his tongue. why? i didn't believe it. my line was this: "just around the corner is my next screw up. it happens to have your name on it. when that collision happens, and i've screwed you over you won't love me anymore. end of story."
like i said, totally rational. in fact, i think people tell themselves that same line in differing variations every day, all day long. but the more people came into my life that looked into my eyes and saw how very screwed up i was, and more they continued to tell me that they loved me, the more i began to understand that grace was something much bigger than i had ever thought it was. and that the cross had something of infinite importance to say about my worth. and that my sin was not the most lasting or true thing about me.
i get angry when people toss grace around like a bean bag. a thing to be thought lightly of. i get angry when people bandy words like "brokenness" around as if there is something romantic about sinning against other people. the reality of sinfulness in this world is that it comes with a body count. sin is not neutral. and the grace that conquers it has been hard won for us.



you might wonder why i posted this clip. the fact is i think tyler durden is right. our father's do model god. so when our father's fail what happens to god?


is the failure of my father a model for god's failure in my life? or...is it somehow illuminating the way jesus really loves me? i'm not going to (nor am i trying to) solve this issue in a blog post with a pithy saying and a video clip. i think it is enough at the moment for me to hold both of these things, tight fisted, in a kind of tension.

there are things i know to be true. not just true in some syllogistic way, but true in a deeper sense. felt truth, experienced truth, having lived and seen something work itself out true. i wouldn't have put grace in the title of this blog if i didn't think that it was the central issue threading through all our lives. by grace you are saved.

4 comments:

michael said...

powerful post. i do think there is connection between our view of our father and of god. for me, i think the things i inherently long for as a human i have demanded from my father (full attention, deep relationship, etc.) and have been left wanting and hurt.

john-jack said...

thanks micheal
i wasn't sure if i really made sense of how jesus' love for me has been made more clear during this time. the thing is i am not done yet being pissed off at my dad. the other part of that though is that he is, whether or not he ever asks forgiveness, forgiveable. and as i wrestle through that hard part of forgiving, i see how much jesus has forgiven me and what that forgiveness cost him. so even as i struggle to extend grace, and i am seeing the extent of grace more profoundly in my life.

michael said...

god's forgiveness for his people is often times so theoretical to me. i intellectually understand the extent of jesus forgiveness let alone what it cost him. however i know it like i know the pain of others who find themselves in the midst of an actual war...its not really knowing. is that because i never really have known how much god has forgiven me or even that i never really had to forgive something awful that was committed to me...i dont know about the former but i am sure the latter is true.

Stephen said...

it's interesting that you include that scene from Fight Club. dealing with the failure of our fathers is really painful. and if we really deal with it and don't just check out then it is excruciatingly painful; at least it is for me in my particular situation and the way my father's love for me seemed directly related to my performance.

i think it is precisely in seeing the distinction between our fathers and our God that we are free from so much that paralyzes us. the more i let the pain (what i believe about myself due to the way my father treated me) creep in the more i realize that God is nudging me and saying something like, "I am so not like that and you know it."