It's still clear in my mind, the night that I decided I would hate my dad.
I was 14, young and impulsive. I was at my friend's birthday party when Dad called and shouted through the phone saying I should be home at that instant. It was 5pm.
Everyone else is abroad so it was just Dad and me for five years. I lived in the dormitory all throughout my high school years and I would only see my dad on weekends. I dreaded those weekends.
Hence, as a coping mechanism, I would spend my weekends at church, making myself busy with ministry, hoping Dad wouldn't barge in any time and shout at any of my friends. (but he did anyway)
I was never allowed visitors nor any guy friends. I always, always get shouted at. Dad gave me meager allowance, so insufficient that there had been days where I needed to spend 5 pesos for lunch. I was convinced that it would be that way forever, and nothing will change.
I was wrong.
I was in my senior year in high school when Dad had a motorcycle accident. The bones of his lower leg were crushed. He was hospitalized for months and I never visited him. He was on his wheelchair for a year but I didn't care instead, I took all the chance to go to friends and have sleepovers.. until finally, he talked to me.
For the first time, he talked to me as a father to his daughter, without shouting and plain anger.
He didn't say sorry, but it was everything that I felt that moment. I can still remember his words..
"I promised Jesus that once I walk again, I will devote the rest of my life for Him."
Dad was supposed to have a leg operation but the doctor thought it was not necessary. In no time, he was walking again. But he was a different man. He stopped drinking and became the "iced tea drinker" among his brothers. He stopped gambling. He stopped shouting at me. He went to church not just because he had to drop me off. He read the Bible. He became friends with other Christian men.
Soon enough, he was giving me goodbye hugs when I leave home and kisses me when I come back from the dorm. He always cooked for me, as if every weekend was a special weekend. He tried to be nice to my friends. He tried to be a good dad.
That was the time I decided, I would love my dad.
If there is one thing that I will always remember about him, it has to be grace.
God's grace. That amazing grace that we are undeserving of, yet continues to save us, rescue us, change us.
Through my dad's life I saw that God is real, that He is not just a supreme being devoid of emotions. He is a God who is relational to His core. He loves my dad so much that He revealed himself to him so my dad can live happily, peacefully, purposefully. He is a God who has amazing plans for everyone, even someone like my dad, or me, or you.
During the wake, I was trying to remember all the regrets I should have but instead Jesus reminded me of His love - his love for my dad.
I may not have been the best daughter and I may not have given my dad all the love and the time he deserves, but surely, without any doubt, for the last 5 years of my dad he was sinking in the love of Jesus. A love that is unfailing and everlasting.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Romans 8: 38-40
This same love is what keeps me going, the same love that gives me joy and peace despite everything. This same love gives me hope that amazing things are about to happen, to my life and to my family.
The moment my dad died, then, was the moment I decided that I would love Jesus. More than ever.
I love you Daddy, I will always be your little girl!