“Will you marry me?” I whispered in Paula’s ear.
My long-time girlfriend’s jaw dropped at my question. She stayed frozen like that for what felt like hours. Finally, I raised my eyebrows and silently mouthed, “Well?”
“We’ll talk later,” she responded through pursed lips.
Perhaps my father’s funeral service wasn’t the best place to finally pop the question, but I had made some discoveries in recent days that had me reevaluating my life. Moments before as I thought of all my father had missed due to fear, a stubborn tear escaped and made its way down my face. When Paula noticed my tear, she squeezed my hand and offered a sympathetic smile. That shared moment, along with the fact that she looked stunning in her black dress, caused me to spontaneously skip my plan to propose the next night at a more romantic location.
My proposal was partially motivated by what I had recently learned about my father. While cleaning out his apartment after his death, I had discovered his journals. In the thirty plus years they covered, hardly a week went by without at least one entry. I was shocked that a low-achieving, unambitious man like my father would be so disciplined. I was also surprised that my not-so-elegant father was an eloquent writer.
I never knew my father even kept a journal, but as I read I finally began to understand his sad life. My parents never married. Growing up I received little more from him than the obligatory birthday visits, occasional phone calls, and child support. His first journal entry was dated 7 months before my birth.
Martha announced she was pregnant today... Her beauty and kindness stir my soul and dreams. Her very presence makes me want to try hard, achieve more. But I know I would be a disappointment. I could never be the father, husband, and provider that she or her child deserve.
As a young boy, I wondered why he didn’t want to spend time with me. I didn’t feel affection for him, but I craved his approval. Before his visits I would rehearse telling him of my accomplishments in front of a mirror. As a young man, I didn’t want his approval as much as I wanted to rub my successes in his face. He worked at a dead end job that he hated all his life. This was only one of the reasons I never respected him.
Today I found a book on the best seller list written by a high school friend. This caused me anguish because in high school I would edit his papers and tutor him in English. And now he is living my dream. Why wasn’t it me? But I am thirty and too old to be chasing fantasies. My job pays the bills and child support but offers me nothing more than money. Never-the-less, I will stay in my safe, life-sucking job. I couldn’t stand letting my son see me fail.
When I became a Christian at the age of twenty-eight, I passionately told my father of my new faith. He listened politely, but did not want a relationship with Jesus.
My son came for a visit today. He rarely visits, so I was surprised. I was even more surprised when he told me he found Jesus. Honestly, I could see a change. He wasn’t the same arrogant man who bragged continually about his every accomplishment.
He wanted me to accept his Jesus, but I couldn’t... What would Jesus ask of me? Most likely more than I have to offer.
After my salvation, I called and visited more regularly, but I never saw fruit from my visits. His last journal entry, dated the day before his death, caused me to shout for joy and cry buckets of manly, crocodile tears.
For several weeks I have been reading the Bible my son gave me. At first I read because I was afraid of death and Hell, but something has changed in me. I’m so ashamed that I wasn’t open to Jesus years ago. Oh, what I have missed... I’m thankful I finally found my Savior. I wish I had the courage to tell my son.
My father missed much because of fear, but I wasn’t going to let it prevent me from marrying the woman I loved. As I waited for the funeral to end, I was fearful of only one thing. Would Paula say “yes?”
8/30/2007 - My first journal entry
She said YES!
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