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:
(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:
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)…
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?”
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…
(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).
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.
P.S. Pretty sure if all dads were good dads, a lot of the world’s problems would vanish in a heartbeat.