A conversation with daddy on the family chat, as my parents vacation in Baguio for his birthday (translated into English):
Dad: …Love you guys. I miss our family vacations in Baguio. Maybe someday, we can do it with the grandkids. (*three laughing emojis*)
Me: Ahhhhh hahahahahahaha!!! Even without grandkids, lezzzgoooo.
Patty (my sister): DAD. IT’LL BE A LONG TIME BEFORE GRANDKIDZZZ.
Me: You gotta have faith dad. #prayersalone (#dasallangtalaga) And very very very good health.
Patty: LONG LONG LONG HEALTHY HEALTHY HEALTHY LIFE
Dad: (changing the subject) #notexpectinga1000wordFBgreetingonmybday
Me: Oh dad, don’t expect it at all. (*laughing emoji*)
That, right there, is a true story. Hashtags included. And in that short exchange you immediately see three things about my dad. His love for family (and his yet-to-be, unknown grandchildren), his sense of humour (complete with #dadjokes), and his great expectations.
Now there is probably not a sane parent out there who has not had grand dreams for their children. Yet not every parent approaches this in the same, level-headed manner.
We are fresh from a wedding in the family—one that many of us jokingly refer to as the only wedding we’ll be having in a long time. It is in moments like these, that get me thinking of how my dad has graciously dealt with the many unmet expectations heaped upon him in 34 years of parenting.
Many people ask why none of us in a family of six children have followed in his footsteps to become medical doctors. The more kaypoh* ones may go a step further and pry about why we have yet to settle down and give our parents grandchildren.
While I’m sure dad has his hopes for us, I didn’t feel that overbearing burden of expectation upon us. There wasn’t one course to take—not a case of medicine or bust. There wasn’t one way of living a life—not marrying for the sake of it, as if it were the only inevitable option. There wasn’t just one mold of thinking, being or doing, which looking back, may have been simpler for a young person finding her place in the world. Of course, we were well-aware of his preference, but in the end, the choice was still ours to make.
Well, he asks for a 2 million-word piece for Father’s day in June; and instead he gets these 977 words—as a belated birthday greeting, at that.
Growing up, dad was the one to start the fun and jokes at the dinner table (especially when he was in a very good mood. Ahem.) And admittedly, it was mom I would run to for the serious talk. Still, when it mattered, dad always came through with his words of love, encouragement and wisdom, usually written. I’d like to think I get my inclination to writing from him, among many other things. This is one old email I keep from the time I hit a rough patch in a previous relationship.
“…(you will find) someone who will share your dreams and aspirations…You are a beautiful person not only outside but moreso inside. I am sure that one day (maybe even sooner than you expect), Mr. Right will come your way.
Again, I know that right now you feel that the world is coming down on you but please don’t feel so. I will tell you now to pray, pray harder than you have prayed before. Ask our Lord for guidance and strength. Prayer is powerful. Part of my daily prayers is that nothing but positive things come out of your relationship, no matter what happens. I am certain that even with your breakup, something positive will come out of this.”
I read back on this email five years later, and it astounds me how it was indeed prayer that saw me through that time in my life. Back then, I had my own daddy remind me to go to my Father in heaven. And out of that dark period, the light of a renewed relationship with God came forth.
We recently concluded a series on prayer at church. Pastor How preached that prayer is a posture of humility, a petition to the highest authority, a position to defend and hold, and that secret place where we encounter Him. It lifts our spirits to rejoice in Him and stirs up faith to expect great things from God.
Dad, on your birthday, I come before God grateful for you, my father here on earth. Through you, I have felt what it is to be loved unconditionally and to receive freely. And because of this, I can approach my heavenly Father with even greater expectation.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20, NLT
So yes, I pray not just for a life abundant in years, but one rich with love for and from God, and those around you. Yes, let’s pray you will be walking your children down the aisle, or enjoying with your grandchildren in due time, but also pray that you would walk with Him closely and enjoy His presence daily. I am expectant to see what God can do in and through your life in these golden years of wisdom.
The Message version of the Bible puts it beautifully: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
So dearest dad, hope and dream far beyond what the world dictates. For if there’s someone who gives above and beyond what we expect, that is our Father God.
I love you always. Happy Birthday! 🙂
*kaypoh: (Singlish), (noun) a busybody, (verb) to pry into someone else’s business