A couple years ago I planned to celebrate my birthday on a party boat. I’d never driven a boat and I wasn’t ready to learn how to. My dad loves driving boats. So, I called and asked him if he would be willing to be the driver. He agreed and the plans were in motion.
About an hour before guests were scheduled to arrive, my dad and I went to pick-up the boat. After taking a quick safety lesson, it was time to complete paperwork. That’s when we realized my dad had forgotten his driver’s license. Without a driver’s license, management could not release the boat to him. I would have to drive the boat or cancel the party. Though full of fear, I choose to drive the boat.
With my dad’s instruction, I successfully pulled the boat from the dock. As I looked out at all the water ahead of me, my hands began to sweat. My heart began to race. I felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the task at hand.
I was driving at 10mph, when my dad urged me to speed up. “I’m driving as fast as I can,” I argued. He explained that anytime another boat or jetski passed by, the waves would take us away from our destination. He warned that I had to pick up speed. I responded that I was doing the best that I could. The thought of touching the lever to increase speed nearly caused me to feel faint. He recognized my anxiety and he allowed me to go at my own pace.
What should have been a 20 minute trip took an hour. By the time we made it to the dock, I was sweaty, my hair was a mess and let’s just say, I had to touch up my deodorant. I was not in a mood to party. But after freshening up, I relaxed and everyone had a good time.
Later as I reflected on how overwhelmed I’d felt about driving the boat, I realized that my father’s patience helped me get to my destination. He could have grown frustrated, but he chose to allow me to learn to drive at my pace. Sadly, I’d often been guilty of lacking patience with him and demanding that he be strong in areas where he was weak.
As I dealt with my fear of driving the boat, I wanted him to understand that I was doing the best that I knew how to do at that time. But there were many instances when I refused to accept that he was being the best father he knew how to be at that time.
When the waves led us away from our destination, he gently helped me find my way back on course. Yet too often I had mistakenly taken the rough detours in his life as a personal attack against me and I attacked back. But just as my decision to be directed by the waves was not an attack against him, his life decisions were never an attack against me. They were the result of his life experiences.
At some point, poor decisions have led each of us down paths we never planned to travel. Hopefully, you’ve had someone to gently help you find your way back to the route of your destination and hopefully, you’ve extended the same gentleness to someone else.
Is my dad an ideal father? No. But he taught me that there is no failure that I can’t bounce back from. He taught me to keep my head up in times of adversity. He taught me that with God’s help, people can be redeemed and relationships can be restored. He taught me to drive a car and a boat. Is he an ideal father? No, but God gave me the perfect father to help bring out the best in me.