They Shall Be Comforted

Posted by admin in February 4th, 2010
Published in Heaven, missions, obedience

Mourning isn’t just about loss of life. We can also mourn the loss of a dream, the realization that a situation isn’t going to get any better. I realized lately that I’ve been in a state of mourning—grieving actually over something that simply isn’t going to happen.

We as human beings are pretty much who we will always be by the age of five. I’m basically who I was then—bigger, literate, with more experience, but I’m not that much different from when I was five years old. I still get very impatient waiting in line; I still like to get my own way and I still struggle to keep my finger out of my nose, my nose out of other people’s business and my hands to myself. Yup. Pretty much the same.

Also, I keep hoping and believing with the bright-eyed, unrealistic optimism of a five year old that things will get better in my relationship with my Dad. I have just recently come to see, now nearing 51 years of age, that things with my Dad aren’t gonna get better. I’ve had to die to the dream that my Dad is going to be joyful and loving and affectionate and full of affirmation. My Dad is aging, rapidly. Mini strokes have left him struggling to make connections and unable to care for himself. Sometimes when I visit him he’s clear as a bell. Others, not so much. This is the final chapter of my Dad’s life. He falls frequently so he’s in a wheelchair. He’s angry and frustrated and wants to go home and who can blame him? I see him fading, slipping away and along with him goes the too idealized, warm and fuzzy daddy/daughter relationship I’ve always longed for and yes, craved. This is simply out of the question. There’s no funeral for unfulfilled dreams. Just the harsh emptiness they leave behind when they’ve evaporated. Gone. Done. And then mourning begins.

So, what remains? Well, I have a Dad I can be very proud of. For the most part my Dad was a genius. Glimpses of that still break through on occasion. (He recently named every airplane, gave its year of manufacture and its purpose. Didn’t miss a one simply by looking at their photos). Every Boeing 700 series you get on my Dad designed the air conditioning systems and the emergency inflatable slide (something he designed for the Apollo spacecraft after the Apollo 1 tragedy in 1967). My Dad was a part of the design team for all the Air Force Ones up through Bill Clinton. He was once ranked the most sought after aeronautical engineer in the country in 1969. He could build anything and he did all things with great perfection. He did things with excellence. My Dad was hard working. In all his professional life I knew him to take only one vacation. It was not unusual for him to work 80 to100 hours each week.

I got an email a few years ago from a retired US Navy admiral in Florida wanting to know if I was related to Troy I. Hodges who served in the Korean War. “He was the best damn cartographer I’ve ever worked with!” He wanted to know if Dad was available for a project he was working on off the coast of Florida.

Dad was brilliant. He was tireless. He didn’t hug. He did punch me in the arm occasionally. He never said congratulations, good job or I’m proud of you. He did ask me to always try harder and to not bask in successes but move on to the next thing. He taught me how to tie a knot, ride a horse, wallpaper flawlessly, drive a stick shift, really wash a car, make the perfect sandwich, write left handed without smearing the page. Everything I learned from him I learned to do well. He didn’t tolerate slackers!

But I mourn a warm, fuzzy, cuddly, affectionate teddy bear of a Dad. I wish he and I could have been closer—bonded. I wish he could have been kinder, more affirming, but he did provide for me. He kept lovely roofs over my head and beautiful clothing on my back. He helped me buy my first car and took me on my first flight in a small airplane. (He was a licensed pilot). He also did something incredible—he always financially supported me year-after-year while I was on the foreign mission field. “Teri, you do what you believe God has spoken for you to do and I’ll take care of the rest.” And he did.

Did I get the Dad I always wanted? No. My Dad was distant and harsh and sometimes even violent. He had his own demons to battle. Even now as he sits in the wheelchair at the VA Center, weak and thin, he can still be very intimidating. His mind works more accurately than not. His piercing blue eyes still shine brightly. He still has his Paul Newman good looks and his stubborn personality. Same prejudices, same opinions, same strong will—after all, those are the very things that make him…well…him.

But here’s what I have, this is his legacy to me: God has used my Dad in my life. God has actually spoken through him. Which is a curious thing. My Dad drank, too much at times. He smoked and still sneaks a cig every chance he gets. He cursed like, well like the sailor he truly was. (He was a member of the elite Navy SEALS during the Korean War). But once when I was preparing to move to Moscow something amazing happened. War broke out in the capital city in August 1991. I was holding a ticket in my hand to fly out on August 26th. I was packed. I had a teaching contract. I was ready to go. But the news coverage of this upheaval in the USSR looked ghastly. There were tanks on the streets. The Russian White House was burning. Gorbachev was out. Yeltsin was in. The city was in total chaos and I was scheduled to be there in four days. I was in my room rethinking my suitcase when my Dad came in. He burst through the door and was shouting, “I forbid you to go to Moscow! It’s too dangerous. It’s a battle field there. It’s not necessary for you to take such a risk. You’re not going!”

I didn’t know what to say. I believed with my whole heart I was to go to Moscow. I also believed that as a single woman (I was 31) my Dad was the authority over me. (Too much Bill Gothard? Maybe.) I always tried to obey him or at least comply. I stood there in my room that day conflicted, dumbfounded. So I said, “Okay Dad. I won’t go. But one day you and I will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. He’s going to ask me, ‘Teri, why didn’t you go to Moscow?’ and I’ll answer, ‘Because Lord, You said I should honor my father. And I did. He told me not to go.’

“What will you say Dad? ‘Cause if you’re gonna make a big decision like this, you’d better be prayed up and know for certain God’s will for my life.”

He started to say something. Then he stopped. And he left the room.

Four hours later my Dad came back in my room. His face was covered with tears. (Quite unusual. I didn’t remember seeing my Dad cry before). He struggled a little to speak. Then he said words I will never forget, “Teri I’ve been praying and I’d rather you die in the center of God’s will than to live safely outside it. You can go to Moscow. I give you my blessing.” And I went.

When I was a little girl my Dad had a supernatural experience with God. He was on the way home from work and God spoke to him. Very clearly God told my Dad to commit our entire family to missions. (My parents never told us this story when we were kids. I heard it from my Mom the day before I left for Moscow). He got home and told my Mom what had happened. That very day God had also spoken the same word to her. The very next Sunday, my parents and we three daughters walked the aisle of our small country Bible Baptist church and my Dad dedicated us as a family to the foreign mission field. Cindy was nine. Denise was eight and I was five. That was Sunday. By Wednesday night Denise had died as a result of inoculations.

My Dad never mentioned it again. It was never talked about and something inside him was forever changed.

So I mourn. I mourn the loss of ever having a warm, cuddly, papa bear of a Dad. I mourn the affirmation and praise only a Dad can give his daughter. I long for the closeness and the comfort only daddies can give to their little girls. But we who follow Christ are not like those without hope. My hope and joy-filled expectation is centered on this one truth: my Dad and I will have a perfect, blessed and wonderful relationship in Heaven! He’ll be whole and new and healed from all of his hurts and frustrations. He’ll be free to love and to receive love. He’ll be shiny, bright and he’ll be everything God intended him to be in the first place. And so will I. So, there it is. And in the meantime I have a Heavenly Father who has promised to meet my every need and lovingly allows me to call Him Abba. Daddy. Peace.

10 users Responded In This Post

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338. The Big Guy said,
February 4th, 2010 at 2:04 pm


339. admin said,
February 4th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I just read the blog. It was a mixed bag of tricks, huh? Nevertheless that is our dad–a mixed bag of tricks. I know that in heaven he will be perfected and finally out of his earthly misery and torment. We can rejoice for him when the Lord is finally ready for him to go home. I, too, find myself grieving some part of every day – it’s quite strange. The depth of your words is something quite rare – I think it must be the ‘backing’ of the Holy Spirit and His gifts that are alive and vibrate within your heart, your soul, your very being. I love you sis and thank you for honoring God through the expressiveness that I believe will bring healing to many daughters (and sons) who haven’t known how to put into words some of those most difficult of feelings.

341. Tiff G said,
February 5th, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thank you for sharing this. I was blessed with a loving and affectionate daddy, but even with all that he gave me, he was far from perfect. I also have my share of unfulfilled dreams. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to reflect, mourn, and receive comfort from the only one who can bring it. I honor you for your transparency and thank you for your courage.

342. jalling1 said,
February 5th, 2010 at 7:56 am

Teri, you have touched the very depth of my heart. I think all of us have some relationship that we mourn over. Why can’t it be better? Why can’t it be like Christ? Thanks for sharing your heart. It gives me hope to know that in heaven all will be healed.


343. burnettbs said,
February 5th, 2010 at 8:09 am

Teri, thanks for the story. As a father, I take it as an extra “push” for me to be the proper daddy for Rebecca. Fortunately she and I have a good friendship and relationship. We hug each other often. She is now 14, and is growing up quickly. But so far I sense from her a love for her papa. I will continue to work on this. Thanks!


344. Lisa said,
February 5th, 2010 at 8:46 am

Teri, thanks…my sister and I have spent the last 2 days cleaning out my parents’ house. Dad is in a nursing home (again) and will never be able to care for himself physically again. We’ve moved mom to a senior apartment across the street from his nursing home…I think my mom may be quickly disintegrating mentally to the point where she can’t care for herself, much less him. As we went through their stuff, we had to make the decision that they won’t be coming back to their house to live again…and it’s time to divide up the household. We both just mourned the passing of what we wished had been, just as you spoke of your dad. My husband lovingly reminds me that they are where they are because of poor decisions they made, and that I have tried to offer alternatives, but they got to make their own choices. That includes their choice about whether to accept salvation…so I pray, and I mourn.

Thanks for the reminder that I don’t mourn without hope, my friend!

345. Texas sister said,
February 5th, 2010 at 11:28 am

i grew up with a father ripped from my home by his adulteries. it was good & healthy for my mother to divorce, even if it was scandalous for me at school. i had learned so very much from the man i adored as a little girl. riding a bike, telling time, tying my shoes and much more. he also served in Korea. A place of unspoken horrors for a green kid from Iowa. he too was brilliant, a captain by age 22. over many older men. a member of Mensa,a bona fide genius. he went to Drake University when he got back from Korea,law school at University of Tulsa, after law school became a successful corportate atty. working for TVA. living 650 mi. away, I only saw him for 6 days in the summer.I lived in TX, he in TN.
finally- the goodbyes were too painful so I quit…just quit.
thinking about him, talking about him or anything else. I sought him & some form of love in every man i encountered for the next 18 years.
father’s days were anguishing for me. there were no cards that expressed our relationship.
in 1985, i was born again & met ABBA and my thoughts immediately were of my father. i wrote a lengthy letter telling him of my experience with Father God, and of my sorrow at my having quit him. i asked him to forgive me. we began corresponding again.
in 1990, i married for the 3rd time; a godly man with 2 boys to match my 2 girls. my daddy & my wonderful step-father walked me proudly down the aisle and into my new life.
after this, he called me every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM for the next 17 years just to talk!
in 2007 he suffered his 4th stroke which left him completely disabled, dementia and other changes. this stroke, however gave me a daddy again. it changed his personality into what i believe he was always supposed to be: charming, loving a good joke, proud of me and saying so,quiet and shy,with a childlike delight over a box of Little Debbie muffins or bologna& Velveeta cheese. affection and kisses, hugs and giggles at my quirky sense of humor.

at this point in his life, i will not see him in heaven…he doesn’t believe.
I too mourned for a long, long time over things that will never happen. But I have the same Father that you have and every other hurting child in an adult body has…and He is closer than an earthly father could ever be.

this is pretty long, but I write with tears streaming down my face. filled to overflowing with the sense of our shared losses, as well as our shared HOPE

346. admin said,
February 5th, 2010 at 11:43 am

I love you dear SC. I pray for your Dad’s salvation this very day!

347. JoyceB said,
February 6th, 2010 at 11:49 am

I love your blogs, Teri! Even though I’ve never replied. My grandfather was an aeronautical engineer at GD for a million years (actually some Chief Engineer at some point). He retired in 1967. Your dad never worked there did he? That story about letting you go to Moscow is precious!

358. BBQ Girlfriend said,
February 21st, 2010 at 8:25 am

R-E-S-O-N-A-T-E! Having a believer as a father doesn’t equate to a special relationship . . . I know.

I remember the exact moment my dream to have children died. That event led directly to my being a missionary today.

Thank you for your blogs.

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