Let’s Write a Line for the Good Man

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On fathers, telling good stories of men and finding the Father heart of God.

By Sarah Styles Bessey | Twitter: @emergingmummy

Let’s write a line for the good man today.
For the men that are fathers to their sons and daughters, for the ones that are the fathers for a fatherless generation, loving well and widening a path to God. For the ones that showed up every time and the one that chased off that boy and the one that taught you to swing a bat and balance a cheque book and the one that taught you to pray.

I’ll start, shall I? Because I have a good story to tell about being my Dad’s girl.

Forest Walks

There is a small forest just behind my parents’ home, a glade of pine trees and birch surrounding a muddy bit of water. It’s not much to most, but it is where my Dad takes all of his grandies out walking almost every time we stop by. They call him Papa, these tinies, and they have spent many moments in this little forest, marching up and down hills, clamoring over logs, picking up leaves and remarking on the weather with every dog they pass. They started walking here when his first granddaughter’s legs still wobbled and she needed to be carried down every hill. Now she runs and hops and skips, long legs flying beside him, keeping all the littles out of trouble.

Papa always helps all these tinies choose just the right stick for the day and then they pretend to swing their sticks like fishing poles, arcing them high in the air, before they hold them, patiently, above the muddy water. Silence. Suddenly one of them yells out “I got a bite!” and there is much wrestling and hollering as they land their imaginary catch. (Every time it’s the biggest one they’ve ever landed.) Then they try to find a leaf as big as their head.

I watch them from the backyard just above the trail. I can hear them all talking, talking, talking and he is listening, listening, listening just like he does with me still. He holds small, nearly-new paws in his freckled and lined hands. His beloved’s own blue eyes, once again in small faces, are staring up at him. They all talk, their tongues seemingly hinged in the middle these days, peppering him with questions and observations.

Remembering

But on this day, it’s just him and one little girl, my eldest, out there in the dim. I’m watching him hold hands with her and suddenly a memory rises up:  I remember that I came home from university one summer, years and years ago, exhausted. I was too thin, too tired, too empty. My dad was in the corner of our plaid couch watching sports and when he saw me, he patted the seat beside him and I sank. He laid a pillow on his lap, without words, and I stretched out, resting my head there. Even–wait, especially when you grow up, a girl never really grows out of needing father-love, does she?

His freckled hands began to run through my hair, quiet and slow, smoothing without hurry. Is there anything that feels as good as being safe? I felt like a child again, at rest, loved. We laid on the couch for the afternoon, no questions, no advice, no admonitions, just me and my Dad, his hands gentle on my hair, knowing he was ready to listen when I was ready to talk. I remember that I closed my eyes and rested. He gave me the gift of his own strength to love when I wasn’t feeling very worthy of any of it.

A Good Man

And I’m seeing him teaching me how to swim and how to laugh at myself. He’s flooding our backyard in the winters so that we can skate on our own ice and he’s driving me to my first job and picking me up, one of the few who lets me be silent now and then. He is teaching me to make a plan and work the plan, to make “quality decisions,” and cheer for the Boston Bruins (sorry, Vancouver!). He’s admonishing me to “be not unequally yoked” which was how he liked to tell me to stop kissing boys he didn’t think deserved me. He is rising up in the morning to read his Bible and when I sneak peek in his leather bound book, there is my name with Scripture verses beside it because he is praying for me–every day. He is teaching me to love truth and mercy, to be bold and gentle. He’s in my face with love and the voice of reason and he’s given me a song to sing in the morning hours and never once has he belittled a dream of my heart.

They round the hill, dipping down into the valley. My daughter stops and looks around her forest, at her Papa, up into the cold blue sky opening above the black pine silhouettes.

Where is God, Papa?”

He tells her that He is everywhere. That He made everything and everyone she loves and He loves her very much. He tells her that Jesus lives in her heart, every day.

She accepts these fantastical things, easily pulling them into herself.

“I thought so,” is all she says.

Things like that make a lot more sense when you are already walking on a life built of love, I think.

Father of Life

She is quiet now. He holds her hand a bit tighter as they start up the last hill, the one before the corner, the path headed towards home. I know he’s thinking it too, how it used to be me there and it still sort of is and it will be again and he is this patriarch now, that skinny, red-headed man of his youth, now leading a family growing wider and the print of it is good.

You see why it’s not hard for me to see God as Love, to know him as a good Father of life?

Daddy-ache

And I’m not naive, friend. I know that there is a deep, deep Daddy-ache in many of  your hearts. And if that is you, my sister, read this: A Letter to The Girl With No Father by my friend, Lauren, because I can’t pretend to know what to say to ease that ache, but I know how good it is to know God and find in him a Father.

But there may also be another man, a father without the blood tie maybe, who helped you see God clearly and love better.

So will you tell us about him? Will you tell us about a good man?

And more importantly, will you tell him about how you love him?

About Sarah:

Sarah Styles Bessey lives in Abbotsford, BC with her husband and three tinies. She’s a happy clappy Jesus-lover, non-profit marketing director, blogger and simple living/social justice wannabe. She blogs at www.emergingmummy.com and can be found talking about everything except what she ate for breakfast on Twitter @emergingmummy.

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Idelette McVicker
If you only know one thing about me, I'd love for you to know this: I love Jesus, justice and living juicy. I also happen to drive a minivan and drink my lattes plain. (My life is exciting enough!) Nineteen years ago, I moved from Taiwan to Canada to marry Scott. We have two teenagers, a preteen, a Bernese Mountain dog and a restaurant. (Ask Scott to tell you our love story.) In 2010, I founded SheLovesmagazine.com and it has now grown to include a Dangerous Women membership community, a Red Couch Bookclub, events and gatherings. I'd like to think of it as curating transformational spaces for women in community. I long for women to be strong in our faith and voice, so we can be advocates for God’s heart for justice here on earth. As an Afrikaner woman, born and raised in South Africa during Apartheid, my story humbly compels me to step out for justice and everyday peacemaking. I have also seen firsthand the impact injustice has had on the lives and stories of women around the world. I refuse to stay silent. I am anti-racist and also a recovering racist. I am a Seven on the Enneagram, an INFP and I mostly wear black, with a dash of animal print or faux fur.
Idelette McVicker

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