A Gift to Humanity – Remembering my Father-in-Love

A Gift to Humanity – Remembering my Father-in-Love August 14, 2020

Last week was tough for me. My Dad was in the hospital and all the news I was hearing concerning him was not good. I had a couple of meltdowns as I faced the real possibility of losing him.

I’m grateful that I have such a wonderful wife in Angela. She is my best friend and my rock. She helped remind me of all the things I’ve survived and all the things I’ve done to help others in similar situations.

My Dad was discharged from the hospital on Friday — which was a relief. However, there are still many hurdles to clear on his road to recovery.

Then we learned Angela’s Dad was hospitalized on Sunday. The sigh of relief was now a crushing weight and the same comfort she ministered to me, I had to render to her.

Monday morning was tough, as we learned that her Dad experienced some life-threatening complications. We made the decision to travel to see him and help Angela’s other Mom (because I detest the “step” prefix) in any way we could.

About a third of the way into the trip, we got the word that Angela’s Dad had transitioned. Angela, of course was devastated. I, too, was floored by this but I had to keep it together long enough to finish driving.

He was a good man. This is one of the trite things people often say when someone passes away but in this case, it’s as true as truth gets. He was, literally, the type of guy who went above and beyond the call of duty to help humanity. This is an area where we could all aspire to be more like him; I think we are most like Christ when we endeavor to serve others.

Like myself, my Father in Love (because I hate the suffix “in-law”) was a former pastor and preacher. He peeped out the hypocrisy in AmericanChristianity™ before I ever preached a sermon. As a good theologian, he was always willing to entertain my christian curiosity and answered all my questions of him with both integrity and intellectual honesty. He was a central figure in my ministerial “coming of age” but was equally influential in my religious deconstruction. One of the things I learned from him was that I could be straightforward about my beliefs without the need to impose them on others. He was never dogmatic about faith — he clearly understood the personal nuances of this.

More than anything else, I saw Christ in him. He was the epitome of love — that is, empathy and compassion. My Father in Love consistently manifested all that was good about humanity. When I asked him about why he stopped preaching, he told me that he believed he heard every sermon that could be preached and that he preached every sermon he thought should be preached. Angela often says she’d rather see a sermon than to hear one. Through her Dad, I can see how this philosophy was built.

I could go on and on about this man but I won’t. Some things about him people will learn about him through Angela, me, or my sons. Some things about him are not for everyone’s consumption.

But I will say this — I’m glad the universe lent him to us. And I’m especially glad I was blessed to experience him.

If nothing else, I’ve learned that we literally own nothing. Everything we experience is a loan from creation. I also learned that most of what he borrowed from the universe, he rendered an amazing return on it.

It is my sincere hope that I am half as faithful a steward over what has been lent to me as he was and that I manifest Christ to the world half as well as he did.


Derrick Day is the author of Deconstructing Religion. He is also one of the co-hosts of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast and the host of The Love|Forward Podcast.

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