Two More Reasons God Sends Us to Scary Places

Last Friday, Facebook page “Humans of New York” reminded me of two more reasons God sends us to scary places.

Reason 1: He Wants Us to Know Him

humans of new york post about not knowing father 1

A woman told “Humans of New York” photographer Brandon Stanton that she wants to meet her father, but her mother isn’t volunteering information about him.

“I hardly know anything about him,” she said. “Never seen a picture or anything. He was my mom’s Samba teacher. His name was Benjamin. He was Brazilian. He had dreads. Long dreads. But that’s all I know. My mom promised me that she’d tell me his last name when I turned eighteen, but I’m twenty now. And I still don’t know. I think part of her doesn’t want me to know. …

“My father caused her a lot of trauma, and ever since then her life has been about moving forward. And I don’t want to make her go back. I don’t want to dig up the past. But he’s where I got my love of dancing. And my skin. And my hair. As much as she tries, my mom can’t relate to being a black woman,” she said. … “Maybe ignorance is bliss. Maybe I’ll just be disappointed. But I’d love to know what talents came from him. What features. What qualities. I just don’t know how to ask about the other part of me — without my mom feeling that her part isn’t enough.”

Reading this, I could relate. It’s been nice to discover little things like the fact my fondness for Peppermint Patties dates back to my 66-year-old father’s childhood, when my grandma used to send him and his brother up the street to buy them for her, but since I became homeless and showed up on my father’s doorstep with a cat in my arms last summer, I’ve often felt like I’m betraying my mom by befriending the person who beat and choked her for 15 years. God’s pretty serious about reconciling families though:

god's pretty serious about restoring families

Not surprisingly, considering I’d become homeless on my father’s birthday, part of that verse appeared on the only Father’s Day card I could find that suited our relationship.

father's day card

Also not surprisingly, the card excluded the “or else” part, which would be a bit of a downer on a holiday.

[But] “[i]f God’s Word steps on your toes, welcome to the club!” writer Steven Cole said. “That’s what it is designed to do. We wouldn’t budge from our selfish, sinful ways if it didn’t clobber us once in a while.” The key, of course, is getting to know God’s Word. “You can’t obey it if you don’t remember what it says,” Cole said. “You can’t remember what it says if you haven’t diligently studied it in the first place.”

Jesus instructed Christians to tell people about him. To do so, we need to learn about him, from admonitions like the one above to attributes such as omniscience, wisdom, and faithfulness, all of which led me to my father, who’s sustained me for the last year even though he disowned me when I moved out of my parents’ house in 1996. And that leads me to:

Reason 2: People Can Change

As Joyce Meyer said during a program titled “Getting Past Your Past,” which aired on my mom’s birthday July 3, the Bible is full of people who did bad things but later did good things. For example, Peter swore, tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross, and then denied knowing him three times, but he became the chief apostle. Likewise, Paul stoned Christians to death but became “one of the leaders of the first generation of Christians, often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity,” according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.

“Paul was willing to see truth and willing to change,” Meyer said. “If you’re willing to take ownership of your mistakes, you can have a brand new beginning.”

Giving my father the opportunity to show me he’d changed was the first step to mine.

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