|Brent Moore (CC)|
So it was no surprise that when—on a different day—a fastball flew towards my head that it struck me squarely on the jaw. This time though, the pitcher was my dad.
My dad used to pitch to me and my brother and sister for hours, and as I got better at seeing the ball I begged him to throw as hard as he could—a request he claims to have indulged. Whether or not his pitch that day was his heater, when the ball hit me I fell to the dirt more out of surprise or a sense of duty than from the force of the blow.
My dad rushed to the plate as if I’d just bunted for a squeeze, but instead of taking the force at first he helped me to my feet in obvious concern. My memory is not the greatest, but I remember standing up and assessing the situation more like a spectator would: amazed and wondering if the victim was okay. After a minute or two I picked up the bat and asked for another pitch to my dad’s dismay.
Looking back, my disregard for getting smacked in the face was born from a few factors:
1. I just plain loved hitting baseballs and wanted to hit some more.
2. Despite the scariness of the situation, the impact didn’t hurt all that much (at least not right away).
3. I knew my dad cared about me and would never intentionally cause me pain.
That last one is key. While only the scummiest of dads would intentionally throw fastballs at their son’s heads, not all fathers have the emotional capital to withstand the kind of withdrawal a ball to the head might require. Every moment prior to that one my dad had worked to build me up, so why would I think even for a moment that he was trying to cause harm? And would I willingly step back into the box if I had my doubts?
That implicit trust has spilled over into my relationship with God (not that I’m a great or even good disciple of Christ). Because my dad (and mom) cared for me, it’s not a stretch to believe that God cares for me too.
But what about those who don’t have loving fathers? Or who don’t have a father at all? How do they view God?
More often than not, these people have a distorted view of our heavenly Father because of the wounds caused by their earthly dads. If your father was hot-tempered or unjust, you’re more likely to see God this way. And if your dad wasn't present in your life? Well, I’d imagine it’s a whole lot easier to believe God’s not there either. Intellectually we know our fathers aren't God, but something deep in our psyche tells us otherwise.
This is what you ought to know about being a dad: fathers wield untold power and responsibility over their precious little ones in regard to their relationship with God.
Quite frankly that scares me because I am the most terrible representation of God. But at the same time this fact emboldens and challenges me to be an ever-better dad in attempts to demonstrate more patience, more love, and more grace in the hope that they will have an accurate view of God.
(And also so that in case I bean my own son with a baseball he’ll be more likely to forgive me.)