Father’s Day has come and gone. Over the past several days, I watched many people post things about their dads. Some were good—happy memories they recalled, once shared with a now departed parent. Others posted their appreciation of their dad, usually with a picture. Still, there were people who posted of people who filled that role in their life. Finally, there were posts from those who felt no fondness of any kind associated with day.
Me? I love my dad. I’m a fairly sentimental guy. I draw roses for my wife from time to time. I cry when a movie or good book moves me. Heck! I cry when my own books move me. I hug and/or kiss my kids and parents as often as I see them. So, yeah, I love my dad. But, my relationship with my dad hasn’t always been perfect.
When I was a young kid, dad was often away of business. He had the kind of job that would keep him away, sometimes, months at a time. When he was home, we would play basketball, work in the garden, go for a walk through the woods, or any number of fun activities. He was my hero. To me, he was better than Mr. T, and that’s saying a lot. When he started working close to home, things were even better. Life always seemed an adventure. We even used to fill the back of his truck up with popcorn to dump it in the field and watch deer come out of the woods and eat it. Those were great times.
Shortly after that, something changed—adolescence. My dad got harder on me. I didn’t understand why. It seemed nothing I did was ever good enough. I remember bringing home a “B” on my report card in Math. That’s when he told me that no son of his should make a “B” in Math. I took that to mean I wasn’t good enough to be his son. I don’t remember my dad ever laying a hand on me. But, I remember that his words would sometimes cut deep. Although I knew he loved me, I learned that he was far from perfect. And while I sometimes made mistakes worth being scolded over, he, too, would make mistakes (which ended with me being scolded over.)
I was eighteen years old the first time I can remember my dad telling me he loved me. I was in basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. It was Father’s Day, and we were allowed to call home. My dad had prepared me for things in basic that others were completely caught off-guard by—saying “yes, sir,” sitting up straight at the table, knowing when to keep my mouth shut, and more. I wanted to tell him, “Thank you.” When I called, he heard the tears in my voice. I was somewhat ashamed for having felt at all as though I didn’t like him. Despite his faults, he was my father and loved me more than I possibly understood. Before I could tell him, he said, “I love you, son.” That was what I needed to hear. Finally, I felt I had done something right.
There are others in my life, that have been a father to me, much the same way that Apostle Paul had been a father to Timothy. These other men helped to feed me spiritually and as a man. Together, with the foundation my dad had already built, they helped to sure up the structure that housed who I would become. From these men, I learned that dad is perfect. I wanted to be the perfect dad, myself. That wasn’t going to happen. I realized I have shortcomings and weaknesses. And, others taught me that recognizing those things is okay, and that God works in those weaknesses to make us stronger. I learned to look to my Heavenly Father as an example of what a father should be.
I’ll leave you with this… If you’re a father who has lost his way, look to the one who can set your way straight. He’s never far. If you’re someone whose father let you down, look to the one who lifts up. He never grows tired. If you’ll soon be a father and are worried, look to the one who created that new life. He will guide you. Don’t let shame, anger, or fear stand in the way of the man—no, the father He has called you to be.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
God bless you,