When my dad was in his fifties, he began a change.
These ways were limited to my view, as I was just beginning to visit him again after a three year hiatus. He was no longer a part of the family in any way, as he had separated from my mother and I perpetually. It was not until he and I reunited that I noticed the drastic change in his overall demeanor. His independence began a new chapter for him and he seemed to be content within it.
I cannot say for certain what his life had been about (in his personal perspective) up until that point because my knowledge of it was limited, and I was a young man who really didn’t care anyway. My father not being there for me had shaped me into a distant acquaintance instead of a son. During those latter years, I had chosen to stay away from him, and I didn’t get to see the progress/process that shaped him into the peaceful man.
When we did finally meet up again, we shared the joys of life. Pushing aside our differences and embracing the shared frustrations of my mother, we bonded in a way that we never had before. Of course, that bond included drugs and alcohol, but that was helpful for both of us. We were both very standoffish, and certain conversations could have easily lead to fights. So, the booze and smoke eased the tensions. At the time, my mother and her new family–her husband and his daughter–were causing a lot of strife within my personal life. Being at dad’s house was a relief. He eventually allowed me to move in with him.
My dad helped me to see the Lord during those years. Yes, the drinking and drugging guy helped me to see the Lord. He aided in me finding my first full-time job and he also helped me establish a bank account. Instilling these essentials within me was important to him, even though it took me years to see the importance of them.
I saw many things within the man during those few years of living with him. He was different in positive ways. Yes, he also had his vices. Overall, peace was evident in his nature.
As I sit today and think back to those days of watching the man who sat across from me at his kitchen table, smoking his cigarettes, pot, and drinking the evening beer, I remember him talking about God. He always had something to say about God. Now, people can judge and point fingers, but any walk with the Lord is a process, and that process is different for all people. For anyone to say contrary is a lie they have convinced themselves of! His process was advancing, and I believe mine was just beginning, during those days of us living together.
My father died a year and a half ago, and knowing what I had found out from his family, he was closer to the Lord than he had ever been. He had given up the vices. He had made it through death, having that “experience” people claim to have when they die and come back. He fought off cancer and suffocated most of life due to lung damage. He wore his bladder on his hip, due to his real bladder being removed. He was cut from one end of his core to the other in order to have his aorta repaired. The process that evolved throughout his life led him closer to the Lord. I believe he found what he was looking for in the end.
I am currently in the middle of a crisis of faith. I just don’t know what I believe outside of the simple faith I put in Jesus. For me, HE–alone–is the only way. I believe all of my lifes’ experiences have allowed me to reach this current place, and I believe God knew it would be this way for me anyhow. Within this life He has given me, I have the faith, but I also have the vices I fight, the frustrations I possess with the lies of the church, the self-chastising tendencies (learned behaviors) I was exposed to within the church, and the teetering peace. I say ‘teetering’ because this crisis of faith makes it that way. Being exposed to so many people who claim to know “the truth” makes it that way. I avoid people who claim to know the facts of God. I have His Spirit to guide. Jesus said that He was/is the truth, so I stick with that. Within His truth, I’ve learned that His perfection made me perfect within the eyes of God (according to the Bible), so I hold on to that. All the rest of this religious crap is just a bunch of misdirected and convoluted jargon to me. Most people are just delusional in their faith and determined to know that they spit the truth. It’s just not for me.
Dad helped me to see that I just need to know that God is always there, that He paid the price for my crazy ways, and that I need to keep looking for the peace within; keep moving forward with myself, finding the good fruits. Moving in a direction that always keeps me away from those places that do me no good, while accepting the fact of progress being a process. A process that has no specific time attached to it.