“What’s for supper?” my husband asked, peering into the kitchen. That was never a simple, face-value question. To me it meant I was not meeting his expectations. I wasn’t going fast enough for him. In the escalating self-inflicted irritation, I picked up my pace from sink to refrigerator to stove to counter to the cookbook and back to the stove.
That day my husband must have lingered a little too long at the kitchen bar, because he followed up with another question. “What did you think I was saying when I asked you that?”
With my eyes fixated on stirring the pot, I answered truthfully. “You were saying, ‘I’m hungry. Hurry up.'”
Immediately, I felt my husband’s body beside mine at the stove. “Judy, in our forty-eight years of marriage, I never thought that. Not once.”
How had I been so wrong for so long? Instinctively I traced the problem back to my father. In psychological terms I had been acting in the Parent part of me. According to psychiatrist Eric Berne, each of us is always acting in one of three ego states: Parent, Adult, Child. My husband’s simple “What’s for supper?” had stimulated a conditioning embedded in me by my father. Everything had to be done in a hurry. He could not be kept waiting. Even when he had driven me to a store on the morning of my wedding, my father told me to “hurry up” as I dashed from his car. (I revealed it and other father-influenced “hurry” incidents in Before the Door Closes.)
Whenever I think about having misunderstood my husband’s innocent question for almost half a century, I remember Jesus’ emotional reply after one of the apostles asked Him to show them the Father: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 ESV).
What kind of Father did Jesus manifest? Stuart Townend shared his enlightenment when he composed “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”
The Son of God displayed to the world the Father’s sacrifice of love in His quest for a personal relationship with you and me. We cannot choose our earthly fathers, but we can choose God the Father.