After Kelly Flores and I exchanged some Facebook posts on this Father’s Day, I thought of another of my adopted daughters who had texted me quite a message today also. (Kelly is the young woman described in the “Another Kind of Adoption” article on this website.) Michelle Garrett, now residing in Colorado with her family, moved to Phoenix in 2005 when we were on staff there. I was leading the ministry region into which she and her husband, John, moved.
They came from the San Diego church at a time when most of the congregations in our movement of churches were going through some challenges. Leaders were not easily trusted, both because of mistakes we had made and because of something similar to a mob mentality that had invaded the thinking of not a few church members. Suffice it to say that it was not an easy time for leaders or for those whom we were trying to lead. With time and God, most of us worked through it all and grew from it.
This gives you some background for my first meeting with Michelle. She and her family attended our service one Sunday when I was preaching. After the lesson, Michelle came up to introduce herself and inform me that they had moved into Phoenix and into our Region area. When I gave her my name, she said simply, “Yes, I’ve heard of you,” to which I replied, “Well, what did you hear, good or bad?” I was attempting to be lighthearted, but she was having none of it. She said quickly, “Some of both.” I continued, “Well, what do you think?” She replied very seriously and honestly, “I don’t know yet; I’ll let you know when I know more about who you really are.”
Wow – pretty interesting introduction! But I appreciated both the honesty and the bluntness. That is my MO and I appreciate it in others. That’s probably why I loved living in the Northeast for 16 years. The people there are nothing if not blunt and often even what has been called “brutally honest.” I far prefer that to the kind of deceptive communication described in Psalm 55:21 – “His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.” The concept of discipling (by whatever term) has long appealed to me, and my need for honesty in both speaking and being spoken to is at the heart of it. Proverbs 27:5-6 puts it well in these words: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
At any rate, I was immediately drawn to Michelle and quickly grew to love her hubby, John, as well. Some weeks or perhaps a couple of months after they joined us, she came up to me after a sermon with tears rolling down her cheeks. She looked at me very intently through those tears and said simply, “Thank you for being you.” That was one of the most touching compliments I have ever received. I get emotional every time I think about it, including right now. From that moment, our father/daughter relationship started to grow and continued to deepen. She writes (texts) me pretty often and tells me ways in which our relationship makes her feel special. In so doing, she always makes me feel very loved and very special.
Here is her note to me on this 2018 Father’s Day.
Happy Fathers Day!! For years of my discipleship, I wrestled with God as Father. With some professional help and a whole lot of God being patient the last couple of years, I’ve been able to settle into his wings and not just be okay but be proud that my dad is God Almighty. Throughout my years, even in my pre-disciple days, I see how God placed certain men in my life to father me, to show me more of Him. Some were for only seasons of life, and some who will forever be near if I call. Thank you for taking your calling from God to be a Papa to many and yet make each of us fatherless girls feel closer to God. You and I are so similar in spirit, backgrounds and personalities it makes me giggle at God. I love you, Happy Father’s Day Papa! ️ Michelle
Once again in my life, Mark 10:29-30 has been beautifully fulfilled. It’s a good day to be a father in the complete sense of that word spiritually.
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.”