Driving home in the dark. Deep in thought. Pulled back for the thousandth time to the scary room. I am small in my bed. I must be five or six. I am on the bottom bunk. I look up at the wooden slats supporting the mattress above me. The glow-in-the-dark stars are there so I won’t be afraid. There’s an amazing mural painted on the wall. The Cat in the Hat balancing on a ball. My mom painted it. My mom is the best artist I know. Two squares of light appear in the corner and move slowly across the wall, then disappear into the closet. After a minute they appear again, this time starting from the closet and moving in the opposite direction. The fading whine and rumble was louder that time. Must have been a truck.
The memory fades out and disappears. I can’t remember what comes next. I can’t remember why it’s so important. What happened in that room?
My mind wanders to thoughts of my father. I think about the prayer, the Big Prayer that went unanswered. I prayed the Prayer for years with all the child-like faith, persistence, and courage I could muster. I spent all my Hopes and Wishes on the one Big Prayer, the Prayer of my Life. I laid it all down. I bet the farm. When God said no, things were never the same.
I asked God to make him Good. I asked God to make him love Him. I Needed a dad. If God would just do this one thing, just this one small favor, I could live with the rest. The Big Prayer was, ‘God, please make my dad Good’. What I prayed in ignorance, I now know to be wrong. God’s hands were tied. He couldn’t answer my prayer. God won’t force love. It’s against His Religion.
Focused on the road and the lights of the cars ahead of me, a thought comes to me. It buzzes around like an annoying fly for some time before I even realize it’s there. Here it comes again, a little louder this time… Let me be your Dad. Hmm, I wonder. What’s that supposed to mean? Let me be your Dad. I think again, I’ll be your Dad. Now that’s just confusing. Let me be your dad? Whose dad? And why dad? Don’t I mean ‘let me be your mom’? This just doesn’t make sense. But here it comes again. A thought so tender, so pained, so gentle. Not controlling, not even urging. Just a simple, quiet invitation, a patient, hopeful expectancy. Let me be your Dad. I want to be your Dad.
And then it dawns on me. The source of the thought. God is my Dad. God has always been my Dad. He’s the one who somehow kept me alive, kept me sane under impossible circumstances. He’s the one, the only one, who has watched me and helped me build a life based on truth. A life not free of mistakes, but always pressing on in the right direction. He’s the one, the only one, who has always looked on with pride when I made the right decision, when I won success. He’s the one, the only one, who has always cried with me when I suffered. I bore up under the pain because of Him and only Him. God is my Dad.
I struggle to keep the car on the road as my body begins to shake. Tears flow freely from my eyes, turning the lights from the cars ahead of me into blurry X’s. I’ve been given a gift. A new Big Prayer. The Prayer of my Life for the rest of my life. God, you are my Dad. You are my Real Dad. You have always been my Real Dad. Thank you for being my Dad. Thank you for being such a Great Dad.