This is one of my favorite stories about my dad. This happened I think in late high school/early college some decade or so ago. By that time my dad had moved back to Taiwan to work as an anesthesiologist because it would have been too much to redo all his medical training in America. He did so that my mom, my brother, and I could stay here in the states.
I visited him one time over break and he took me out to eat with a colleague. At that time, even though he had been in practice for awhile, he was driving an old beat-up Toyota. We drove to the restaurant, but actually parked a bit a ways away and we walked the rest of the distance. I figured parking was bad there so I didn’t think much of it.
I don’t remember much from dinner, but it was with this young doctor recently done with his anesthesia training. He had used the valet, and as we were leaving, he offered to give us a ride in his shiny new BMW. My dad politely declined, and as we were making our way back, it hit me that my dad parked so far away because he was embarrassed to have his colleague see his car.
In the Asian shame/honor culture, the image of the family is a pretty big deal so this was not a small thing. My dad should have been able to drive whatever car he wanted given how hard he worked and how much he saved. But every penny extra beyond what he needed to get by was sent overseas so that we could have more opportunities, tennis and music lessons, and nicer cars to drive in America. And he gave up not just material enjoyments, but he also sacrificed time away from the family.
Even though my dad is not a Christian, he has been one of the most significant influences in my life in understanding the sacrificial love of God. To me, his sacrifice was a tangible example of the lengths to which God would go for us because of His love. Of course I would have loved it if I could have spent more time with him growing up. But I thank God that He has given me an appreciation for what my dad has done for us and that I am able to see his choices as his way of loving us.
Thank you dad, happy Father’s day.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1