“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers,” – Proverbs 17:6
As much as I don’t like writing about my father issues (or rather, my fatherless issues), I have found that the closer I’ve grown with God, the more open this wound becomes. I know it doesn’t sound like a good thing; it seems contrary to the character of God to inflict pain on his children. Someone once suggested that my faith was doing more harm to me than good. But yet I – the one who is going through this emotional pain – do not see it that way at all.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick,” – Luke 5:31
Like a bite from a cobra, not having anyone to call “dad” has poisoned my heart. And also like a snake bite, the venom must be removed. This is an exceedingly painful process, which could lead one to believe that since Jesus is the physician – that Jesus is the one, the only one, who could properly treat this wound – then He’s the one inflicting the pain on me. Given this light, it would seem that my faith is actually harming me. But what we rarely consider is the end result: true healing.
Yes, extracting the venom is painful, but it beats being poisoned. Unlike a snake bite, the venom our Enemy injects into us is slow-moving. Oftentimes you feel fine – as if you will be okay, as if you don’t need a doctor. And little by little, you grow comfortable with that bite – you find ways to work with it so you don’t have to feel the pain. “If I just keep this to myself, I’ll be alright.” But then someone notices your wound and tells you that you need a doctor immediately. And so you react by pushing your friends away. You intentionally avoid the crowds, intentionally isolate yourself, intentionally keep the poison inside of you. And yet what none of us are very good at remembering is that no matter how deep our wounds go and how deep that poison runs; Jesus dives deeper.
Simply put, this is my life story. I recognized early on that something wasn’t right, that I desperately needed help, but I closed myself off. I stopped hanging out with my friends, kept church relationships to a minimum, and ignored it at all costs whenever I was alone. Ignorance is bliss, right?
God knows that we can only run so far before we bring our worlds crashing down on top of us.
Thankfully, it didn’t have to come to that for me. Why I cited Proverbs 17:6 at the top was because it hits home to me; I have never known my father, but I was fathered by my grandpa. Little did I know that as I was ignoring the issues brought on by my absent father, God had given me someone to lead, teach, and guide me. As Jesus waited to treat the venom in my wound, He gave me my grandpa; my IV-drip sustaining me until I let Jesus in.
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.”
When the government puts you with foster parents, there’s a sense of rejection you feel. Not only do you feel rejected by the people who left you to the state, but you feel like a burden to the new people designated to take care of you. This is how I often felt living with my grandparents. No, not at all the time; in fact, I’d say most of the time it felt like a long visit. But sometimes when my grandpa would get mad and yell at me, I thought he was annoyed with me. I thought he didn’t want me to be there. And yet this Proverb suggests something else.
The footnote to 17: 6 in my NIV study Bible says this; “To live to see one’s grandchildren was considered a great blessing.” Not only has my grandfather gotten to see me; but he’s taken care of me. I got to be one of the sons he never had. And when I think of my childhood with my grandpa in light of this Proverb, I recall all the moments where my grandpa showed his delight in me; like when he’d rub his beard in my face before I went to bed or how he’d pretend to hug me then unleash a sneak tickle-attack on my ribs. Those moments, as odd as they might sound, were moments when I felt loved.
As I talked about a week ago, I’m going through a major transition in my life that I wish I had a father for guidance and advice. Last night, after watching Pirates of the Caribbean 4, it really hit me. It hit me that my college life is over, that I’m truly on my own from this point on, and that I alone must figure out what I’m going to do. It’s terrifying – so terrifying that I wept for half an hour last night. Shaking, trembling, and pouring out tears, I longed for those moments with my grandpa – those moments when there were no worries, but instead nothing but love. And I wished that I had a dad if for no other purpose but to hold me as I cried.
I know, it sounds dreadful, but I’m still in surgery. Jesus is still digging deep into my wound to get every last bit of that poison. It hurts and I often feel like it’s never going to get better, but I believe in Jesus’ resurrection, which means I believe death, pain, and suffering can and will be wiped out. At any point in my life, I could turn away from Him. But the venom is only going to run deeper and cause more damage – so much so that the wound I was inflicted by will be the wound I inflict my children with. History will continue to repeat itself unless we let Jesus in – unless we let Him extract the poison.