Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Boogus

When I was little, my dad used to call me Little Boogus. He was Big Boogus, naturally. These special names we had for each other were only one of the many ways he made me feel treasured. And since it's Father's Day, I wanted to tell you about him.

But I hesitate to. I know the quality of my relationship with my dad puts me in a small minority of women. I've been in enough women's groups to see that I have something rare, and I've seen women consequently struggle to relate. Because I've come to realize that most women have had some degree of pain inflicted on them by their fathers, I feel an awful thankfulness that I have not. A girl's relationship with her father is a powerful one, and I am humbled that my dad wielded such power to build and heal and teach, rather than to break.

Maybe your father did things that weren't right. Maybe he misused his power, maybe he wasn't a man. And while my dad wasn't perfect by any means, he did a lot of things that were right, things that worked. Things that ultimately pointed me beyond himself, nudging me safely and confidently toward adulthood and toward God.

And let's not forget something very, very critical in speaking of my dad's success as a parent. My mom was always his biggest fan. She was the one who modeled faith before he had any at all. She was the one who encouraged, prayed for, and inspired him to be the man he was created to be. Their unity was divine, really, and her undying, unconditional support for him is a precious model for me as well.

Today, many of my dad's ways have become interwoven and inseparable from my ways, particularly in mine and my husband's parenting. I hope you too can glean something from them. When you read them, remember that a girl's impression of her father quickly translates into her impression of God. This is one reason why the relationship is so powerful. And this is really what I'm getting at here. The end of the story is not that my dad was the hero. He loved me in a way that simply reflected God's character. I learned that God is my hero and the best Father I could ever have. That's what good parenting does; it points a child beyond oneself. So here are a few landmarks of guidance from my childhood, this Father's Day, in honor of Big Boogus.

When I was little...

I was "Little Boogus;" I had a special name, a name only he could call me.

He taught me to nurture a living thing, whether a hamster or carrot seedlings in the garden. He showed me a passion and a respect for all life.

He showed up. He coached my team. He watched, listened, and proved over and over that I was very, very important.

I learned that he didn't just love me, but he liked me. He wanted to be with us. We went on vacations, celebrated special events, and laughed together. To my dad, I was always smart and funny and pretty.

He always found something to buy from every Girl Scout, every neighbor kid selling candy bars, and every down-and-out kid selling magazines door-to-door. He supported ambition and showed compassion for the less fortunate.

He disciplined me when I was disrespectful or defiant, always very calmly.

He gave me hugs, kisses, and said "I love you" often.

When I was a teenager...

He taught me to strive for my personal best simply for the sake of excellence. He imbued confidence in me by offering encouragement at every opportunity without demanding performance. I never felt that his level of love for me was attached to my level of success at something.

He complimented me constantly, and it never got old. I knew also that it wasn't forced or fake. He was genuinely fascinated and delighted by me and the person I was becoming.

He said sorry when he hurt my feelings, and would take responsibility for being too critical. He was never afraid to admit his shortcomings.

He said "No." He was strong enough to choose being unpopular with me over allowing me to put myself in an unsafe situation. (We're talking the drive-in. In the "valley." EVeryone else went.)

He understood that during these years, social acceptance was important. He let me buy the expensive jeans once in a while, he got me a car when I could drive (it was used, but it was not lame), and he taught me cool things. I never felt uncomfortable around boys because I could hold my own, whether in conversation or in shooting pool.

He took me on dad & daughter "dates." Sometimes they were events at the church, but other times, he'd take me to a special restaurant or a movie, careful to demonstrate how I deserved to be treated by a man.

When I was old enough, he took it one step further, explaining the value of purity to me, and that some of the most special things about me should be especially protected for the person I was to marry. I was that valuable.

And then, he did something semi-terrifying: he began trusting me to make decisions on my own. At some point in late high school, he said he was going to stop steering my choices and that I had all the tools I needed to make wise ones on my own. What courage that must have taken. I was thus pushed out of the nest.

Now that I'm an adult...

He is still my biggest fan. And he is still modeling wise living to me, not so much now as a parent, but as a human being. He pursues knowing God with humility and hunger. He sees others' needs and generously tries to meet them. He spends his days with joy in his heart, constantly setting negativity aside. And perhaps one of the most inspiring things to me personally is how he loves to pass on what he's learned in life. He is available to be used by God to share his story. I'm sure if I didn't have a dad like that, I wouldn't be writing for this blog. I wouldn't be passionate about sharing my stories, and I certainly wouldn't realize how important I am in God's story.

Thanks, dad, for being my hero for so many years, and then helping me understand who the real Hero is. I pray I can do the same in my kids' lives.


  1. That's him! Beautifully spoken~a true depiction and a wonderful blessing.

  2. loved this post! i feel the same way about my dad... and know i am so blessed!! thanks for putting into words so beautifully!