Father for a Day

The other night I had the most amazing conversation with my dad. My initial purpose was to inform him of Veronica’s time in Ann Arbor this Christmas and our general ideas about the wedding. One of the topics we talked about was the financial aspect of the wedding and marriage.

He then abruptly asked: “Are you guys getting a pre-nup?”

I was definitely taken aback, then I realized that in today’s world with an over 50% divorce rate and the global economic crises he was speaking as any sensible father would to his son. God opened up such an opportunity for ministry in what started as a benign family update phone call.

I finally answered that I had no intention to pursue this financial safety net and that I trust in God to take care of us. I wanted to hear more of his heart on the matter as I felt this was a doorway to talk more about spiritual things (My dad is not a practicing believer).

I then asked him: “Did you and mom get one?” He responded very similarly in his definitive ‘no!’

“You’re mother and I love each other so much and it grows deeper every week!”

I admit I grew slightly inpatient with what seemed like a subversive attack on the love Veronica and I share.

“Dad, I’m not saying you are insulting our relationship or intentions but it seems as if you’re not seeing our devotion and in who we trust.”

He answered, “I doubt this would ever happen but you should think about protecting yourself in case she tried to take everything. You have something she doesn’t. Stock portfolios, investments, eventually kids, these are things you should be thinking about.” God was now truly fueling this conversation and I responded confidently:

“I am comfortable in the fact that this is a possibility and in that case she could take as much as she wanted, I’ll end up ok. He’s blessed me with the skills/education to practice psychiatry and I’d start over again. The way I see it, my whole view has changed and I consider these tragedies as opportunities for God to minister to me. In fact, if she or I were to die in our sleep tonight we would be at peace with that individually and as a couple.” Frankly this passion and religious zeal both excited and frightened me as I had never been so intentional in evangelizing to my father.

We then got to talking about the rest of the family and he mentioned how worried he was about my sister and her finances. She is about to ship out to Kosovo for a one-year tour via the Army National Guard. Unfortunately the reasons are not altogether altruistic and she elected to deploy to offset severe financial debt. My dad had been receiving credit card and car payment bills meant for my sister for the past several months and was aching at how the overdrafts, non-payments, etc. were killing her credit. He was informed that for active military members, debt automatically went down to 6% interest, yet he kept seeing bills of hers which showed up to 4 times higher because no changes had been made. During the Christmas break he had been trying to have my sister sign Power of Attorney papers to let him deal with her bills while she’d be overseas, but she spent the entire break with friends and did not address this issue.

I could tell he was so stressed about this as he knew exactly how to remedy the situation and even wanted to sacrifice himself for her. In essence, he wanted to be her savior. I see how a father’s love can be so intense that it is painful to see any suffering. I also realized that no matter what he did or did not do, God is ultimately in control. My dad then tried to compare my success to my sister’s struggles and equate them to a general self-doubt in his parenting.

“There were a lot of areas I wasn’t the best for you guys.”

I responded: “Dad, you have been a good father and I frankly wasn’t the easiest kid to work with. In fact, if I hadn’t been blessed with academic gifting, things would have been a lot worse for me. You did the best you could and I truly appreciate that!”

I could tell he knew I meant every word, but I could not stop there.

“Veronica and I are going to be ok raising our future children because we know that ultimately it is our Father in Heaven who is guiding the steps. I could never love them as much as He does and He will more than make up for any of my mistakes as their earthly father. In regards to my sister, she is an adult and she is making very bad choices despite your offers for help. Sometimes the best thing to do is the hardest and to let one hit ‘rock bottom.’ Eventually they will repo her car and garnish her wages if she chooses to remain idle. You are loving her more by letting her learn from this and she can reflect, maybe years later, that you were there for her.”

He responded: “Interesting, that’s fatherly advice!”

We both laughed, yet knew we had come to a deeper understanding of the other’s viewpoint. I look forward to see the fruit from the seeds planted in this conversation. I am thankful to my Father in Heaven for providing me with a loving father on earth and I pray they get to know each other.