Once Upon a Memory

Due to the fact that my Dad’s birthday was on November 2nd, Dads have been on my mind. As I was writing my thoughts about why I loved him, I quickly realized that my list could have easily turned into an essay, maybe even a best-selling novel, given the chance. My mind went down a lovely memory lane, from being rescued from the top of a magnolia tree when I was seven, to teaching me how to ride a bike at five, and most recently, walking me down the aisle. As I sat and just simply reflected (maybe shedding a few tears, to be honest), two main characteristics kept coming to mind throughout my memories.

“Just one more time. Don’t forget, squeeze the glove when the ball hits the inside.” I rolled my eyes, already my weakness of not liking correction being shown in my youth pursed my lips, and readied my stance. My Dad leaned back and threw the ball high up into the brilliant summer sky. I looked up, losing the form for a second in the glaring sun, and then, regaining sight, tracked the ball as gravity took over. I felt the pressure hit my glove, a slight sting on my palm, as the ball slapped my mitt…and rolled out to hit the ground. “I hate baseball!” I yelled to no one in particular, threw my glove onto the ground, and began to stomp away. “Sarah Beth.” I knew the difference between hearing Sarah and Sarah Beth, and decided to wisely stop. The conversation that ensued was filled with encouraging words, stories about my Dad’s past baseball failures, and even a joke about being better than my older brother one day (I’ve always been motivated by competition). My Dad never once reprimanded or belittled me. He simply spoke with patience and grace.

One of my favorite home videos shows four small Quigg children, clad in an assortment of colored pajamas, standing on a red plastic picnic table near the front door. We are all jumping up and down when suddenly a voice is heard through the camera. “Who are you guys waiting for?” My Mom asks. “Daddy!” The four small voices chime together. Suddenly the door opens and a bearded hard-working man enters the scene. No audible words can be heard, simply squeals and giggles and excitement. Our Dad has returned, and he acts just as excited to see us as we are to see him. What I didn’t understand when that video was filmed was that he had just returned from a long hard day at work. He didn’t walk in the door to a quiet and peaceful home. He entered, and although was met with much love, there was (some may admit) a much harder job ahead of him. And some may watch that video and comment on how cute those Quigg kids are, but I watch and see a Dad that was available when needed. A Dad that never missed a sports event. A Dad that would return home and spend hours playing with his kids. A Dad that chose us over anything else.

I have been blessed with the greatest earthly father one could imagine, but also the most amazing heavenly father. This past month the Gospels have helped me fall in love with Jesus again. In Matthew 14, the story is told when Jesus feeds the five thousand. I saw the beginning of that miracle for the first time the other day…where it says, “When Jesus heard what had happened (the beheading of John the Baptist), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Jesus, in his 100% humanness, needed some time alone. He needed to mourn the death of a friend. Then the verse continues, “Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” Any natural responses could have been annoyance, irritation, maybe even anger. He wanted to simply be alone to mourn a death, and the crowds followed. Jesus amazes me in every response throughout his life, but this one might be my favorite (and the hardest to imitate). “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Wow.

Jesus demonstrates such patience in this moment. He sees the people. He sees hurting, needy, lonely people…and has compassion and patience. He doesn’t send them away. He doesn’t disappear and abandon their needs. Jesus is available. And he’s as patient and available then as he is now. He wants you to tell him your thoughts, your doubts, your deepest desires. He is waiting. He is waiting for you.

Sarah Quigg Santos, GEM missionary