Daddy Issues

This one might hurt a little.

‘Cause Father’s Day isn’t just fun and (baseball/bags/poker/tennis/golf) games. Sadly, this third Sunday in June can toss up all kinds of heartache and here’s why:

There’s a whole slew of troubled guys out there who happen to have reproduced.

And more than a few of their kids grew up… hurt. So many battle-scarred adults were wounded by the person responsible for protecting them:

Dad.

(Others were just collateral damage in his own private battles.)

All this means there’s a mess of kids – young and old – for whom Father’s Day seems a little ridiculous/offensive/pointless/painful. Or a lot.

I’d venture to guess that most of those troubled dads got that way because their dads were troubled.

(Unfortunately, it’s often an inherited trait.)

Doesn’t take a PhD in Clinical Psychology to figure out that a lot of deadbeat dads were raised by men who were chronically distant or distracted. Dismissive or demanding. Demeaning or downright mean.

Or maybe Dad just took off. Without thinking twice about the fallout.

Either way, daddy issues almost always come back to haunt somebody. Usually two somebodies:

Parent.

And child.

The sad truth is there are a lot of lousy dads. And even more mediocre ones. But the good news is there are some really fantastic fathers out there too.

My kids got one of the all-time greats.

His name is Steve… but he mostly goes by Dad, Daddy, Dizzle or (my personal favorite)…

Hoosier Daddy.

He’s the best of the best. Steady, strong, hardworking, humble, faithful, fun and fiercely devoted. He counsels, coaches, comforts, consoles. He folds laundry and settles disputes. He’s good with a mower, shovel, glove and putter. And he can grill a mean rack of ribs.

He plays with our kids and prays with our kids.

And he practices what he preaches.

He loves them. Dearly. Deeply.

Day after day after day.

Real love means sacrifice. For dads, it means willingly relinquishing their desires (perhaps their dreams too) so their kids can grow up healthy, safe and strong… and pursue their own dreams.

Being a good dad requires intentionality and investment.

Because you know how kids spell “love?”

T-I-M-E.

The best dads give their kids that gift, again and again.

(Even when it’s inconvenient or seems “unimportant” in comparison to other demands.)

If you got a dad like that, it’s pretty easy to respect, appreciate and celebrate that guy. But what if you didn’t?

Honor your father…

Anyway.

(Because God said so.)

Notice the lack of conditions/caveats/qualifications. It doesn’t say “Honor your father if (fill-in-the-blank).”

If he was honorable. Or admirable. Or available. (Or even around.)

It just says honor him.

Sometimes that means expressing gratitude (for a job well done) and admiration (for a life well-lived).

Sometimes it’s just acknowledging that he did the best he could. (Often this requires some hindsight… and humility.)

But if your dad was someone who abused you – physically or emotionally, intentionally or repeatedly – how in the world are you supposed to do that impossibly hard thing? Honor him?

Honestly, I have no idea. Because my dad didn’t abuse or abandon me. He didn’t belittle or manipulate or prey on me… he protected and provided and prayed for me.

Maybe “honoring” your dad just means allowing God to be your Father… and asking Him to help you not repeat the cycle of abuse.

Or maybe it means mustering every ounce of mercy and bravery that God offers and saying, “I forgive you.” Even if you’ve never gotten a glimpse of remorse or a whisper of “I’m sorry.”

Because forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

(When you open it, you’ll find buried treasure inside. For some, freedom. Others, healing. Some, transformation. Others, a whole new identity.)

The truth is it’s our Creator who defines us. The real question isn’t who your father is… or even who you are… it’s whose you are.

Who’s your Daddy?

If you don’t already know Him, I pray you’ll get to know your Heavenly Daddy.

I just hope you’re not too wounded or bitter to even try.

Maybe you blame “our Father who art in heaven” for your troubled/absent/abusive one. You figure if He’s really God (all-knowing, all-powerful and all that) then He’s responsible for the dad you got (or didn’t get, as the case may be).

Fair enough.

But God’s not a dictator. He didn’t “make” your father do – or not do – anything. He isn’t responsible for that great big gash your dad left on your heart.

He just wants to be the one to stitch it up. (And make it better than new.)

He promises to be the Dad you never had: protective, patient, kind, strong, gentle, wise, merciful, fair, full of good humor and giver of good gifts.

He really is the… Best. Dad. Ever.

And He loves you like crazy.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you a Heavenly Father‘s Day.

Wendy

P.S. Pretty sure if all dads were good dads, a lot of the world’s problems would vanish in a heartbeat.

The Definition of YOU

My dear reader,

Recently, a friend of mine remarked that she wasn’t feeling like herself. I’ve heard that comment from others before, but this time it struck me as odd. I understand feeling “out of sorts” or “under the weather” or “down in the dumps.” But I can’t really comprehend not feeling like me. Unless I was given a chance to feel like Cleopatra or Coco Chanel… or Jane Austen (when she was completely and perfectly and incandescently happy). In that case, I might consider making the switch. For a day or two.

What about you? Do you feel like yourself? How so? Why not?

Or more pointedly…

Who do you think you are, anyway?

I know, it’s a loaded question. But have you ever really stopped to think about it? Or were you just involuntarily swept away from dreaming about what you wanted to be when you grew up to… adulting… every dang day. Work/bills/laundry/dishes/dentist/DMV.

(Sigh.)

Did your life turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed it would? What about you? Did you turn out like you hoped/prayed/dreamed you would?

Good questions. Take some time. (I’ll wait.)

Sometimes we get so busy answering the little questions (What’s for dinner? When is trash pickup? Where are my keys?) that we forget to ask the big ones (Is God real? What is love/truth/the meaning of life? Who am I?)

These are the $64,000 questions. (Not that I’m going to pay you if you can answer them. Sorry to disappoint.)

At some point, we all try to figure out who we are. We delve into our family history or start therapy. We take a DISC or Enneagram or Briggs-Myers test. We search for (or armchair analyze) our birth parents. We travel to our ancestral home or do a DNA analysis. And while these things can be helpful, they can’t possibly fully reveal your identity, estimate your potential, or capture the essence of you.

What defines you?

Your past? Your personality? Your pursuits or possessions? Your looks? Or your “likes”? Your resume? Your relationship to someone else?

Perhaps you simply defaulted to accepting others’ definition of you:

Who your parents said you were.

Who your friends say you are.

Who your colleagues or classmates think you are.

Maybe you’ve been believing what other people have said about you all this time. Because you didn’t have the gumption/grit/guts to not let them do that to you, define you.

Or maybe you’ve crafted your own “self-image”… and it comes down to this:

Who the virtual world perceives you are. (Smiling. Styling. Living it up in the city.)

But the fact of the matter is… deep down… you know who you are/where you’ve been/what you’ve done.

That’s the “closet” you.

But most of us don’t really like that person, do we? Because deep down, we’re unsure (or ashamed) of that person. And that isn’t who we were intended to be, anyway. (Like Lady Gaga says, we were just “born this way.”) But even that – all our innate shortcomings and errant thinking and inevitable sin – doesn’t have to define us.

Somehow, we’ve got to find our way. The way to become ourselves.

The real, true, free-to-be you (and me).

Here’s what I think. I think the only way to find our way is to find… the Way. Get to know the One who made us and knows us inside and out. The One who’s always there for us. (Even at our ugliest and worst. Even in the deepest pit. On the darkest night. When we’re convinced we are utterly, irreversibly alone.)

I’m amazed at how well you know me. It’s more than I can understand. How can I get away from your Spirit? Where can I go to escape from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there. Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east. Suppose I travel to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me. Your right hand would still be holding me close. (Psalm 139: 7-10, NIRV) 

Unless we know our Father, we’ll never have any idea who we really are.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! (Psalm 139:13, The Message)  

Unless we plumb the depths of God’s wonder, we can never know ours.

And we’ll have zero chance of being utterly, eternally secure and permanently, profoundly significant. No hope of ever really/truly/unalterably belonging. No shot at averting a full-blown identity crisis. (Adolescent or mid-life or any other variety.)

Getting to know God is the way we begin to become ourselves.

Don’t you want to meet your Maker? (Oh, you’ll meet Him when you die. That’s unavoidable. But I highly suggest getting to know Him beforehand.)

You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. (Psalm 119:73, NLT)

You didn’t choose your eye color or vocal range or skin pigmentation, did you? Of course not. And even your parents didn’t have final say on the colors, characteristics, design, and details of the masterpiece that is you.

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Your DNA only scratches the surface of who you are and who you were meant to be.

It’s your divine soulprint that divulges the details.

Aren’t you curious to know why God gave you that artistic eye or your mechanical ability or that great golf swing or your infectious laugh? Don’t you want to find out what He’s got in store for you?

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, The Message) 

God has given you a place on this planet… a mission to accomplish… a future… a hope.

Get after it.

Wendy

P.S. If you fear it’s too late (or think you’re in too deep) for a do-over, think again.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. (2 Corinthians 5:17, AMP)

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.  My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.  I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. (Philippians 3:12-14, CEV)

Now that’s good news.