My pastor used that phrase this Fathers’ Day as he prayed for the dads in our congregation and I was floored. The truth and responsibility of that observation was sobering, as it should be. Father. Oh, how wonderful it would be if all fathers aspired to be worthy of sharing that title with God. And thankfully, many do.
But today I read a blog post by a dear woman who was only able to overcome the damaging influence of her own father by recounting the negative lessons she learned from him. She concluded that it was the lesson of stubbornness he modeled that ultimately saved her from him.
Reading the comment string on that post was wrenching. Readers shared about dads who had abused, dads who had died, dads who had left, dads who were just emotionally…missing. So many people have had negative experiences with fathers, and as fathers.
Fathers’ Day: It’s a holiday that is intended to rightly praise a valuable role and yet it inevitably surfaces raw emotions for many. Human fathers can never measure up to the expectations we idealize on this holiday.
I am touched to consider not only the dads who are giving it their best shot, but also those who perform the role of father even if “technically” they aren’t. This comes from a very personal place for me, as I raised my daughter as a single parent.
God was faithful to provide father figures for my child, men who modeled masculinity and kindness, strength and faith. She had loving grandfathers (both related and “honorary” ones), godly uncles, faithful male friends, and committed ministry leaders. She and I were both blessed to have a glimpse of our Heavenly Father through the examples of each of these men.
I served in the singles ministry of the church I belonged to when my daughter was younger alongside some amazing fathers and father figures. I was in awe of the struggles and triumphs of the single dads who faithfully stepped up to the plate with their own children as best they could. I was humbled by the single guys willing to lend a helping hand to the single moms and their children. Fathers to the fatherless? You bet.
And I’ve known so many stepfathers, men who are raising children who aren’t their own biologically, but who are rising to the occasion as though they were. Step-parenting done right is a difficult and not always rewarding role, but it is one that has long-lasting influence, even with adult children. I can never forget that stepfathers are fathers, too. My husband is one.
My friend Iris pointed out today that there is also honor due on Father’s Day to the moms (and grandmothers, I might add) who played – and are playing – the role of both mother and father to their children and/or grandchildren. I’m so glad she pointed that out. That, too, can be a crushingly difficult job but one with incredible impact.
Biology is only part of it. It turns out there are quite a few who have taken up the challenge of sharing the title of father with God. No one is doing it perfectly and the circumstances may not be ideal, I’ll be the first to acknowledge. But when their efforts reflect glory and gratitude back toward God, I believe He is honored.
Thank you to all the fathers. You know who you are. And thank you, Father. May we all know who You are.
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