His Girl

A few weeks ago, my sister and I held our dad’s hand as he took his last, labored breath. For three days, we sat by his bedside waiting and remembering. Waiting for him to break free from his prison body and remembering all the little moments when his love shaped our hearts.

Dad was fearless. Whether he was straddling the back of an untrained quarter horse or taking on a cowboy who looked a little too long at one of his girls, Dad never backed down from a challenge. As a young man, his love of music gave him the courage to stand side-stage at the Louisiana Hayride week-after-week hoping for a chance to fill in for a guitarist too drunk to play. One night, his patience and confidence paid off when he got to play back-up for legendary country music star, Hank Williams. Growing up with a dad with such guts and gusto compelled me to be brave, too. After all, my daddy had my back.

Dad was passionate. Every inch of Dad’s heart was love. He would do, literally, anything for his family. He once fell on a porcupine trying to save his curious youngest child (me) from being “spined.” When I was a teenager, dad used to wake me up with a Coke over ice and a back scratch. He turned on my shower so it could warm up, took my breakfast order, and said, “Hit the deck” as he flipped on the light. When he became Papaw Bill, he gave so many piggy back rides that it’s a wonder he didn’t walk with a permanent stoop. No one doubted Dad’s love.

My dad was brilliant. Brilliant in mind and personality. For 40-plus years, he taught junior high and high school students how to do math and do life. He had a way of making hard things seem simple. If he didn’t know how, he figured it out. If it needed to be done, his hands were all over it. His spirit shone so that even strangers were drawn to him. At my college graduation dinner, we visited a steakhouse with a huge slide in the middle of the room. He slid down that thing with my nephew time and time again. Before long, every kid in the place was calling for Papaw Bill to slide with them, too. With a dad so intelligent and magnetic, I trusted his leadership and knew he always had my best interest at heart.

Of all the things my dad was, a strong Christian was not one of them. He believed, but he didn’t talk about it much. I don’t remember seeing him read his Bible or hearing him pray. In fact, Dad considered me the spiritual leader of the family. He always said, once I found the Lord, I traded my saddle in for a Bible, and he figured that was a pretty good trade.

While Dad loved his children well, he wasn’t always the best husband. He avoided conflict with Mom by saying, “Yes, Dear” and heading out to the barn with his horses and tractors. I resented that. I wanted him to lead our family, not bow down to my mom’s nagging. I wanted him to say, “Time to go to church” instead of me asking him if he’d like to come along. I wanted him to experience the rich reward of serving God, not just people.

Dad’s death and my concurrent involvement with Resignation of Eve have me reflective. Reflective about how influential my dad was on my Christian world view even though he wasn’t a strong Christian himself. Dad’s extravagant love helped me understand the love of God. Not just the “for God so loved the world” love, but the “swoop me off my feet” love.

My soul craves masculine leadership. While I look to wise women for mentoring and nurturance, I want my pastor to be a godly man. A fearless, passionate, brilliant man. A man my husband and sons can emulate. A man who knows how to stand up for God and be on his face before God.

Do I believe female pastors are out of God’s favor? No way! I am not prepared to tell anyone how they should serve God. After reading the diverse stories of my R.O.E. sisters, my eyes are open wide to all the ways God uses women for His glorious purposes. Go, sisters, go! But for me…I want a man in the pulpit on Sunday mornings.


His Girl — 14 Comments

  1. Lee, I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing about your father and the impact he has had on you. What a beautiful tribute to him! You must miss him very much.

    I respect your preference for a male pastor. What I love is that you’re not objecting to women being Christian leaders, you’re simply saying what works for you personally.

  2. I think this beautiful story perfect illustrates how we interpret our faith through our own experiences. I have heard before that people who didn’t have a positive father experience (or none at all) have great trouble seeing God as a masculine figure. I remember when I read “The Shack” and loved every part of it, including the idea of God as a black woman, but then, I had a close friend who said that she just couldn’t get past the black woman and that’s why she didn’t get into the book.

    I don’t see either experience as a problem, but I do think that when we start prohibiting others from doing what they are compelled by God to do, we are binding the work of the Holy Spirit.

    • April, thank you for sharing. I had no trouble with the heavenly father portrayed as a black woman. I loved the way she loved, nurtured, and expressed truth.

  3. Lee

    My mom passed away 2 months ago. She was not even a “pretend” Christian but she lived a life of faith and devotion to God that I rarely see in Christians. Since like our father Abraham we are saved by faith (trust and confidence) and not by knowledge (correct information or creedal assent) I feel certain that I’ll see my mom in heaven (if I make it myself 🙂 as Im sure you will with your dad. It’s too bad that we’ve inherited a way of understanding faith that is more dependent upon what we say we believe than how we actually live. But since Jesus sees our hearts and looks at our actions and even our intentions heaven will be filled with surprises.

    You are a very good writer and I appreciate so much your willingness to be part of this project. Jesus told us to love each other not agree with each other.

  4. What a beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing, Lee. My Daddy is not well… so I especially relate to the waiting. I just love that God made us in His image, male and female. We need each other – and the exact give and take of how can change over time. Hey, don’t be too surprised when you get to heaven and find your dad right up close to Jesus. Lot’s of people are quiet about their faith – they may not “look the part” of the ” good Christian”… but who’s to say, other than Jesus himself? I’m so happy you are part of the book.
    It’s funny, but I want men to lead, too. I definitely don’t want “yes dear…” as they head for the garage or barn. It’s not that I don’t want women to lead- I am one of those who gets tired of not being “allowed” to lead. I’ve said for years, if men would just lead, I would follow them – but so often they don’t. They often throw around their positional leadership role, (power) but they don’t lead! A true leader is not threatened by another leader – they are energized by them, and cheer them on. And I don’t think a man who truly leads like Jesus would be threatened in the least by a woman who is also leading – even if at times she happens to be leading him!

  5. Pingback: Spitting on a Bush | Prayer Gifts

  6. Thanks Lee!

    Laura, I love this: “A true leader is not threatened by another leader – they are energized by them, and cheer them on. And I don’t think a man who truly leads like Jesus would be threatened in the least by a woman who is also leading – even if at times she happens to be leading him!”

  7. Lee – this was a beautiful tribute to your dad. He reminds me a lot of my father. I was a Daddy’s girl, too.

    My father was a quiet (non-church attending) Christian, too. In the final weeks of his life, he told me he didn’t want me to worry for his soul because he was baptized as a child and believed in God. It was important to him to tell me that, but I already knew he loved God because of the life he had lived serving others…just not in church.

    As I came back to re-read your post and the comments this morning, it reminded me that my father in many ways was my model for my relationship with God. Perhaps, I’ll post about that later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *