I think the exact wording was, “This step is irreversible!” It was in bold, appropriately decorated with an exclamation point to signal the importance of the user seeing the statement before moving ahead of themselves and creating a problem that couldn’t be fixed. Me and my dad were the users. And we didn’t see it; at least not before it was too late. We were putting together a new basketball hoop for my boys and were a little too excited to bring our project to completion. We snapped two of the pieces together and then grabbed the directions, only to realize we had done exactly what they warned us not to do. Whoops.
Fortunately, at least in my experience of the last forty years, nothing is entirely irreversible with my dad. He really is one of those guys that can fix anything, a bit of a superhero with his tools. He’s messy, unpredictable, and a tad overconfident, but his determination and know-how leave little to be desired. His style is best described as “MacGyveristic”; aptly named after my dad’s favorite show from the 80’s. The main character, MacGyver, would get into seemingly impossible situations yet always managed to narrowly escape with the gift of his ingenuity. My dad would be the first to fix a pair of broken glasses with a paperclip and we salvaged the use of our old tv for years by warming up the tubes in the back with a blow dryer for ten minutes or so before we wanted to watch a show (much thanks to our guardian angels for seeing us through that idea).
Three years ago, my family was blessed to move into a new home. After spending ten years doing several refurbishing projects in a home built in the late 60’s, it’s been a true gift to concentrate on more creative ideas in a house that is already soundly built. Me and dad have tackled many a project together; we’ve built a headboard, decorated one of our walls with shiplap, built a set of shelves from plumbing pipes and wood, replaced a window broken by an errant soccer ball and constructed four large flower boxes for our front deck. The results are beautiful and have helped to create a home out of our house. My favorite part of these projects however, is the part that no one sees; the part that involves time with my dad all to myself, conversations that might not otherwise happen and a finished product that holds special memories.
Several years ago, during a bible study with a group of cherished friends, I was introduced to a woman who is a gifted author and speaker (by introduced I mean on YouTube). Funny enough, this woman’s name is also Nicole Johnson. She gave a talk titled, “The Invisible Woman”, and in it taught me one of those life lessons that should have come wrapped with a bow. Each time I am reminded of it, I find myself re-energized in my role as a parent. The lesson applies to both fathers and mothers and is one that deserves revisiting as we prepare to celebrate the men in our lives that serve the role of father.
Nicole constructed this particular lesson through the comparison of parenting to those that spent long, tedious years building the great cathedrals throughout the world. She highlighted the story of one builder in particular that was carving a beautiful and intricate bird in a corner of the ceiling. The carving rested beneath a beam and would most likely never be seen. When asked why he was spending so much time on something no one would see, he replied, “because God sees.”
I’m grateful that my children have a father that would have spent just as much time and put just as much effort into that bird. And I’m blessed to say I grew up under that same kind of selfless, unassuming care. I love that my boys have the kind of father that plays soccer in his work clothes with an empty stomach because he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend time with his kids. And I’m grateful that I have a father that sees each new project I place before him as a fun opportunity, rather than just another thing to check off his list. I love that my husband teaches me again and again how to serve, even when no one is watching and no accolades are up for grabs. I’m thankful that when I look at my father, I see only genuine, non-judgmental love.
The influence, the inspiration, the impact of our fathers is priceless. The love and attention our children deserve is as intricate and unique as the bird resting beneath the beam. Nicole Johnson beautifully summarized the love of a parent in the following message from God;
“You are building a great cathedral. It will not be finished in your lifetime and sadly, you will never get to live there, but if you build it well, I will.”
Happy Father’s Day to my husband, father and father-in-law; three of the most skilled builders I know.