I’m not trying to be cynical, but for years Father’s Day had always been one of my least favorite days of the year. I was raised with a father who carved out lots of time for family activities and was there for me the best he knew how to be. But his critical, controlling nature kept me at a distance. Then I married a borderline narcissistic, verbally and emotionally abusive man who was so broken he saw both his wife and his kids as inconveniences.
For years, as Father’s Day approached I would spend what seemed like hours at the card section at our local department store trying to find a card for both my father and my husband. Battling anger and tears I would read the sayings until I finally found two generic Have a Great Father’s Day type cards—one to mail to Dad, and the other one to present to my spouse on Father’s Day. As I tucked the cards in my cart I would long for the day when my children I could have a nurturing, healthy relationship with both my father and my husband.
On Father’s Day I would take the kids to church and listen to yet another great sermon challenging the men to be fathers that model the heart of God for their families. Following the service I would go and comfort my daughters who were usually at the altar begging God to make their Daddy love them. Then I would once again tell my sons and daughters, “Daddy loves you. He just doesn’t know how to show it.” (Yep. I was a major enabler in those days.) Then we would go home, throw on our bless bless daddy masks and celebrate Father’s Day, usually with a cake and some small gifts.
Year after year we repeated this ritual. Then Daddy left. There was still a card to mail to my Dad, but at home there were no more masks to wear on Father’s Day.
That is when I truly began to learn about my “Abba” Father God
I learned that God adores me.
I learned that He loves me unconditionally.
I learned that He doesn’t check me off His list when I am naughty, even though he knows it is in my best interest to be nice.
I learned that He always has time for me and loves to hear about everything going on in my life.
I learned that He gives wise counsel.
I learned that even though it might not feel like it, He has my best interest in mind.
I learned he loves to celebrate my big and little accomplishments.
I learned He loves to celebrate me!
I learned He loves going for walks and dancing in the rain.
I learned that He never forgets my Birthday and He knows my favorite color.
I learned that He loves blessing me–over and over again.
I learned that He is the only daddy without wounds and flaws, and no matter what the circumstances, He will never leave me nor forsake me.
The more I learned about my Daddy God the more my heart healed concerning my earthly Daddy.
The past two years God has blessed me with a close relationship with my earthly Daddy. In caring for Mom and my special needs sis, Daddy and I have both grown a lot. Instead of seeing his weaknesses, I have been blessed to also see his strengths. My father is a fighter. He never gives up. My mother was sick a lot when I was young. Dad had to take over the cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. He also took care of mom during the times she was confined to bed. He went with her to doctors etc. around the country trying to get help for my special needs sis. He might not have known how to express his heart, but he loved through actions. When half of our family of eight was severely chemically poisoned, he spent most of his money on medical expenses. Except for a few grants and loans, he also paid for our college and specialty schools.
No matter how difficult the circumstances, Dad never thought about leaving. his family. When Mom needed to stay in physical rehab facilities for a couple of months, even though he had great difficulty walking, Daddy went and saw her almost every day. His goal was to get her strong enough to come home. She did. Even though she never regained full strength, for a while she was able to use a walker to get from her room to the living room.
When Mom became completely bedridden and had to be hand fed, I suggested we put her in a home. Dad would have none of it. “Your mother wants to be home. And I want her home. So we will do whatever we have to do to make that happen!” he emphatically stated. Doing what we had to do meant us changing and feeding Mom. Since it took both of us to change her, Dad and I became quite a team. We learned that we really needed each other.
Daddy not only taught me perseverance, he taught me commitment. When Mom didn’t even know where she was, or who we were, he still lived for her smile. Not only did he faithfully care for her, he also never gave up believing for one more day with his bride. He was there for Mom the day they wed and he was by her side the night she died.
I am so thankful that I have gotten to know my heavenly father’s heart. I am also thankful that I have gotten to know my earthly father’s heart. Thank you, Daddy for showing me through your example that a Father never gives up on those he loves.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! I love you!