Saluting Spiritual Fathers

I know. I am nearly two months late with this post. This should have been done back in June around Father’s Day.

I guess that’s because I’m conflicted on two counts. The first is that my relationship with my own father was rocky. As much as I’d like to lay the blame at his feet as being a conservative stick in the mud who couldn’t change with the times (and he’s dead so he can’t defend himself), part of the blame is mine as I could be difficult to handle and creative in finding unwise ways to test boundaries. In addition, I never kissed him goodbye the morning he died; I knew he was terminal, but I was helping mom deal with all the things that were going wrong and raising three special angels and working full-time, so I rushed to get to work so I could rush home to spell mom that afternoon. I forgot that life can be quickly snuffed out, and within six hours of my leaving the house, his was.

The second is that I find people with mismatched chromosomes incredibly confusing. Some seem to focus more on the physical than the intellectual, while the intellectual seem to come with a whole bunch of baggage that make relationships difficult. I’ve managed to attract my share of the hypocrites as well. And then there are the control freaks: the ones who think my matched chromosomes give them every right to tell me where to go and how to get there and what to say on the way with no thought for what I think or feel.

So, without further adieu before this becomes a misanthropic rant, let’s salute some of the men who, though not related to me, tried to take on the unenviable task of parenting the strong-willed woman-child I’ve been most of my life. (Funny, most of them are life partners to the women I mentioned as spiritual mothers; maybe I’ll explore that in a future post, but for now, I digress.)

Peter: Peter was Maria’s husband. He was managing kids, a career, and a church. I used to watch in amazement the close relationship he had with his kids. Now, over two decades later, I could see he used the same skills with me. Although he saw women in more traditional roles, he could see women like me needing something more and he often worked to try to challenge my intellect regarding faith. He also tried to challenge some of the more unwise decisions I was making; unfortunately, I just didn’t have the skills to verbalize all the emotions and logic (okay, illogic in this case) that I was going through. My favorite thing was watching him be so in love with Jesus that he would try to dance as he led worship with his wife and the rest of the worship team (and yes, he truly proved that even under the power of the Spirit, white men usually can’t dance). I lost touch with them shortly before I found out I was carrying my third child in two pregnancies.

John: John is the husband of Martha. I think in some ways he just sensed the lack of connection I had to my own father. I picked up common sense things about handling vehicles from him. I also watched the time management and division of labor in action that he and Martha used to manage church and jobs and extra-curriculars for seven in a family. As I grew, I saw him handle some pretty tough life events with prayer and courage and wisdom and humor and prayer.

Paul: Paul is married to Rose. Being an engineer before he became a pastor, he was the first male Christian I was insanely curious about because he came from a logical world that usually precluded faith, unlike medicine or teaching. I loved to watch him. He could humbly admit sin areas like anger, and then turn around and graciously admit “I don’t know” to some of the tough questions I asked because I didn’t follow a traditional path. He wasn’t afraid to show up and put in sweat equity helping someone move or put in an addition or clean for someone who’d been sick for a while. In watching him, I learned that it was okay for me to be a real human around my own kids and yet strive to look more like Christ.


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