When I was 47 years old, I was shocked when my mother’s sisters in Pennsylvania told me how she had died.
Even up until a few weeks before he died, I remember my dad being hard on me. As a 10-year old pitching manure as hard and as fast as I could, his comment was, “I wouldn’t take you to a dog fight!” I didn’t know what the connection was between pitching manure and a dog fight, but I knew my performance was substandard to him. This was representative of my relationship with him. I was never good enough. Even in later years, as I poured the footings and walls for his last house, I was never fast enough.
One of the results of this pounding at an early age was that in high school I would not even consider asking a girl out for a date, because in the back of my mind I knew that I was not good enough.
Even though I never felt good enough, it did not stop me from working and playing hard. My hard work in the Navy Construction Battalion division (CBs) resulted in commendations and even getting the title of “CB of the Year” and a 2-week trip to Europe in 1992. I spent time working on the isolated Alaska island of Adak. And that’s where I started to believe that God was there for me.
My buddies and I decided to go repelling of a 150 foot communications tower that had been secured into the jagged rock-covered island. They told me to just push back and trust the rope. It was threaded through the slow-down device at my side. But, the slipped out of the slow-down device and with my gloves smoking, another problem became evident. We never thought to measure the rope. A 135-foot rope is not long enough for repelling of a 150-foot tower. As I reached the end and the rope left my hands, it was like the hand of God gently found a safe resting place for me between all those jagged rocks.
I never believed that God felt I was not good enough. I know it was because that I believed that Jesus died for my sins, and Jesus made me good enough. My wife and kids thought I was good enough. And, as I prepared to be baptized, I believed that my fellow Christians also believed that Jesus made me good enough for life with Him and with them.
One evening, after getting up from the hard, wooden floor to help my father the last few weeks of his life, he apologized and asked for forgiveness for the way he had treated me. I think he blamed me for the suicide of his 36-year old wife, my mother. That death had to have been excruciating for him. As I expressed forgiveness to him, I think he realized that I was probably good enough all along.