So many people always seem to think, there is something wrong with them. Why?
Can God almighty, who is beyond perfection, who created the universe, create imperfection?
Parents give birth to God’s creations. Our parents live in a world of their own creation. A world that they believe is one of struggle, pain and limited resources and dreams.
Since parents think they cannot live in God’s perfect world, they tell their children about their own limited world.
If you believe you cannot be truly happy, truly rich and truly in touch with God, how can you pass a vision of perfection to your children.
Can a primitive person who has never seen an airplane, tell her children they will one day fly? Can a starving woman, remind her children that they will one day be able to eat steaks and drink Champaign? Even travel the world and meet kings and queens.
Where do we get our beliefs?
I an a child of these kind of limitation. My parents were victims of the Germans. The Nazis. They barely survived the concentration camps. My father had all eight of his brothers murdered in the camps. They came to America after World War Two.
Many years after being liberated from the unspeakable horrors and emigrating to America, my parents still lived in fear.
As if they could, at any time, be arrested, have all their possessions stolen and be tortured and murdered for no reason.
Why not? It was their reality. They had seen and experienced horrors, beyond the imagination of most people. Their lives were stolen. The lives of their children were stolen. Many of their hope’s and dreams never came true.
Do you know my greatest fear? That I would die like my father had died. Depressed, mostly alone, suffering from cancer. unappreciated and angry.
My life had been a struggle. Growing up to a childhood of abuse, beatings by my father, even being tortured by him. In spite of everything, I desperately wanted to believe I was part of a real family. That there was love in my family and life. To believe everything could all be forgiven and we could start life fresh. Become a real family.
When the doctors told my father he would die, of pancreatic cancer, in a few months, he starting going to worship regularly. I could tell he was asking why God had punishing him. Trying to make up for what he saw as a tragic life. I think he thought God had given him a life of pain, struggle and suffering. Not a gift from God, but a life of anguish from God.
I tried to visit him more often. To support him. Maybe even to become friends with the man who said he was my father.
One day, I asked him if he thought he would go to heaven? Didn’t he think that after all he had been through, he would finally have peace? He said he hoped so, but that God he would judge him after he died. He did not know what would happen after his last breath.
Finally the day came when we all knew my father would pass on soon. Perhaps in a few days or perhaps week or two. I remember the last time I got to talk to my father. I was not sure, I even wanted to say goodbye to my dad. But my wife convinced me to go. She said, after he died, I would never get this chance again.
I remember seeing him. The last time I would probably get to talk with him. I had come to say one last goodbye. I had great hope. To say I love you and hear I love you back from my father. Something my father had never told me.
Here I was almost 30 years old. I had never heard my father say I love you and I am proud of you. Even when I got my first job or graduated from college. That’s what I needed. For my father to say a few words. I wanted to receive his blessing.
I entered his bedroom, apprehensive of what might happen. Seeing my father, barely alive, so weak, he could not sit up in bed. It was shocking. He had once been strong, handsome and had piercing green eyes, like my eyes.
Here was the man I was afraid of my whole life. He was so week, he could not even lift his head, even though he used to take his hand to hit me, his oldest son.
I told him I was sorry, he was so sick. I told him I knew we had disagreed on so many things. And even though we had struggled in our relationship, I wanted to tell him I loved him. That he was my father, that I appreciated that he had raised me and provided for me.
He listened quietly and then told me about his upbringing. How poor his family was. How hard life had been for him. His mother died when he was only 4 years old. He said he had never hugged his father and his father had never said he loved him. And when he was only 16 years old, the Nazis came for him and his family and took them to the death camps.
I listened. I knew some of the stories. But then it started. I was an ungrateful son. I was a failure. He was disappointed in me. He did not know where I got my strange ideas. I was someone who would never make it in life, because life was tough and I was a dreamer.
He told me that almost everything I did in my life was a mistake. He even said, they had wanted me so badly, to have children. But then realized how hard it was to raise kids and perhaps they had made a mistake in bringing me into the world.
That, because I was different than him and did not listen to him, I would always be a failure. That my dreams were a waste of time. That they were impossible to achieve.
After about 30 minutes, our conversation ended. I was barely able to get out of the chair and leave. I could not believe what was he said. I was devastated. This is what my dad really thought of me. He said it so clearly. He believed it in his heart. So, I left wondering if it was true, even a little bit.
I wanted to believe, my father, on his deathbed, would at least be kind. Say a few nice words, knowing that they were probably the last words I would hear from him.
That he would say he wanted the best for me. To say that even though we did not agree on many things, that I would be ok. That I was smart and would figure things out and find my place in the world. That America was a different world, than the one he grew up in Eastern Europe, before the war. That I had a chance to be happy.
But he couldn’t do it. I think he could not give up his view of himself and the world. He was secure, had a modest home, but for years he had hoped to do even better, to start a business, to build something he was proud of.
But he believed he could NOT become more. He was an immigrant and a Jew. He did not believe in America, as the land of opportunities. He never thought things would get better for him. He thought many people hated him, because he was born in Poland and practiced a religion foreign to many people.
I think my father thought, if he gave up his identity, he believed he would not have anything of himself left. That perhaps all the pain and suffering he went through would be in vain. That God punished for a reason.