Why I Love My Dad: My Bristlecone Pine Featured

Written by  Hannah Desouza -- London, United Kingdom Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:13
Editor's note: The following is one of the third place entries in the "Why I Love My Dad" series. Click here for more >

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” -- Philippians 4:4

This scripture is one of the first I learned as a child. I would recite it with a sense of indignation.

hannah dadHow can God expect me to always rejoice, to always be happy?! Yet now, writing this article, I feel confident that I better understand what Paul was commanding the Philippians to do because it has been embodied by my father, Mike DeSouza. 
He did not have much. After the tragic death of his sister, he became the youngest of three boys raised by a single mum in a property that featured in a BBC documentary as one of England’s worst homes. Racist remarks and loneliness became part of life after he was sent to boarding school where, out of 865 students, he was 1 of 10 black children. Yet, amazingly, not once have I heard him speak with self-pity; rather, he is quick to see the ways God used his negative circumstances for good. 

In 2003, the church in London encountered huge difficulties. I watched my parents lose their jobs in the ministry, many close friends and our house. People stopped coming to church and, one week, I also asked to stay home. I will never forget my dad’s shocked expression; the thought of skipping church, of avoiding problems and taking the easy way out was never an option for him. He taught me that “Rejoice in the Lord always” does not mean “wear a constant smile”, but that our joy should come from a deeply rooted relationship with God, and not our circumstances. 

My dad is my compass. I come to him with my dreams, doubts and anxieties with the confidence that I will always be redirected to God’s Word. This Father’s Day, I want to thank him for being my spiritual Mr. Miyagi; for teaching me to be frugal but also generous; for reminding me that “do not worry” is a command, not a suggestion; for instilling in me a hunger for the truth; and for not just telling me to “Rejoice in the Lord always”, but showing me how.

methusula treeWhere I am in California there are Bristlecone Pines. They are not the tallest or most impressive trees, but they can survive in the harshest, most extreme and windswept environments because their deep roots act as anchors. Instead of fighting severe winds, they bend and move with them, resulting in each tree being uniquely shaped by the winds it has endured. The Bristlecone Pine has stood the test of time. The oldest tree (appropriately named Methuselah) has been standing for nearly 5000 years in the White Mountains of Inyo County in Eastern California.

My dad is a Bristlecone Pine. 

Many have fallen and been uprooted by the unrelenting winds of life, but he – being firmly anchored to his Creator – has allowed them to mold him. Dad, I will forever be indebted to, inspired by and grateful for your steadfastness, and I take great pride in being your daughter.

Hannah is a member of the London Church of Christ.
Read 6375 times Last modified on Friday, 13 June 2014 10:40