Happy Father's Day to All The Dads That Suck

Happy Father’s Day to the absent dad, the abusive dad, the present but not really there dad. Basically, if you are terrible at the whole dad thing, I want to wish you a Happy and Belated (I’m so behind on life right now) Father’s Day. 

 

This isn’t sarcasm, I really mean it. 

 

Happy Father’s Day; you’re a good dad. (You’re confused since I just said that you were a terrible dad, but hold on and I’ll explain.)

 

You have the potential to be a good dad. 

 

You can change. 

 

You can try. 

 

I know what you must be feeling and thinking, but it’s NOT too late. 

 

If my dad was still alive, I would have him write his side of this post. I know what he would tell you: “Call ‘em. What could it hurt? Well, it’ll probably hurt your pride, but if you’d look in the mirror, you’d see how ugly you are and then you’d know there is nothing to be proud of.” (Then he’d laugh too hard at his own joke, bringing his fat-fingered hand to his mouth to take a swig of beer.)

 

He would tell you that he messed up. He would say that he was selfish. He would sob. And through those sobs you would hear him say he missed out on everything. 

 

I know he would say all that because he said those things to me. 

 

By the grace of God, I ended up going to college in the same city where Dad lived. Through a long and difficult process that I won’t write about here, God healed my relationship with my father. It wasn’t easy and it wasn't instant, but I chose love. 

 

Had he hurt me? Yes, in many, many ways. But with bitterness and un-forgiveness, my pain only increased. 

 

You may suck at being a dad. You may feel you have done the worst, most detestable thing, and maybe you have. BUT there is always, always hope. Take one step in the right direction. If you can’t forgive yourself, ask God to. 

 

He’s ready to pardon you, even if your kid isn’t. 

 

If you are that kid reading this, I know you are hurting. 

 

You scanned the bleachers 100 times even though you knew he wouldn’t show. 

 

You watched kids run to their dad’s after school and wondered what that felt like. 

 

You shrank in fear when your dad came home from work at night. 

 

You checked the mail everyday for a month after your birthday in hopes that the card came late. 

 

The phrase, “Daddy’s girl” made you squirm. 

 

Every time the phone rang on Christmas, you hoped it was for you.

 

You laid in bed at night and tried to imagine why he didn't want you.

 

If you have felt any of those feelings, I am so, so sorry. But, please, choose healing. Choose to forgive. Choose love. 

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

 

Ask God to help you. 

 

And then, imagine your father as a child. There is something about visualizing him in a state of innocence. What was he like? What was his childhood like? And his father? Maybe, you can’t forgive the grown man that hurt you, but can you forgive the four-year-old boy? Start with him and then work from there.

 

I’m praying for you, the dads who missed out and messed up, and the kids who are broken and bitter. All of us. We can all choose to change. Do you want to try? 

 

Happy Father’s Day. God is love, and love really does win. 

p.s. My dad passed away unexpectedly 2 weeks after we moved to Mozambique. I am so glad I allowed God to heal my heart when I did. I can honestly say that I love him and miss him dearly. THAT is Jesus. 

Living in Africa: Our Biggest Fears May Surprise You

When people say things to us like, "You are so brave for moving to Africa," I'm sure they aren't picturing us getting potentially smashed by a falling window. I know, you are so confused. I was too the first time I saw Matt swing WAY left before walking into the grocery store in the tall building adjacent to ours. When I questioned him, he said he was avoiding falling windows.

(Notice he didn't grab my arm when he did his window-avoiding dance.) 

I'll explain further. There are lots of apartment buildings in Maputo, most of which were built in the 50's by the Portuguese. Windows here are typically wood-framed and open out. In case you need a reminder, it's 2016. That's a whole lot of rainy seasons and coastal breezes. I'd be loose too, if I'd been hanging around that long…that sounded bad…not what I meant.

ANYWAYS. 

Windows fall from time to time; we have even lost one of our own. Praise the Lord no one was hurt! (We live on the 13th floor!) Matt isn’t afraid of snakes or our kids getting Malaria, he’s afraid of falling windows. 

If you want to see Matt tense, put him in a car in Mozambique at night. The guy is a nervous wreck and for good reason. Most Mozambicans don't have the luxury of having a car. Most Mozambicans walk everywhere. Some have to walk at night. Most Mozambicans are black. Not to point out the obvious or anything, but black people are hard to see in the dark. Matt's biggest fear is hitting someone; we pray about it often. 

 It'd be pretty scary if you walked up on this guy. Photo credit goes to Matt. 

It'd be pretty scary if you walked up on this guy. Photo credit goes to Matt. 

Mine?

Matt says I don't have any fears. And honestly, nothing really ever causes me to panic, but when we have a house full of college students and I misjudged the amount of snacks needed, my heart races. It is not easy whipping up extra snacks when you have a toddler and a baby, so I thank God every day for the little store where Matt perfected his window avoiding technique. 

Phone call.

I got nervous just typing out those letters, "p-h-o-n-e c-a-l-l." Most people of my-thumbs-are-the-new-lips-generation struggle with phone calls anyway, so when you ask me to call someone in a language other than English, yeah, that will give me chills. Move over freaky baby-doll movies meant to make grown men pee their pants: Calling someone on the phone in Portuguese is much scarier.

 I'm pretty sure Cypress' biggest fear is sleeping through the night. She's terrified.

I'm pretty sure Cypress' biggest fear is sleeping through the night. She's terrified.

For real praise the Lord our students like to text! #blessed

Disease, potential war, and sand could cause us to live in fear…joking about the sand thing…well, kinda joking. (I may have to list that as another thing I'm afraid of. All you beach lovers may not understand, but when your whole country is like a giant sand pit, it gets everywhere.) There are moments when Satan gets at us (you can read about that here), but for the most part we have been so grateful that this verse rings true in our lives,

"God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind."

We have made a decision as a family that we won't fear something that hasn't happened; it's a waste of time and doesn't prevent anything. Instead, we are going to embrace what God has called us to. In that embrace we can find peace knowing that he is in control, good or bad, easy or difficult. 

A lot of you understand this WAY more than I do.

You have looked fear in the eyes with a terrifying diagnosis. You have faced another day after the death of a child, parent, sibling. You have lost everything in a fire or natural disaster and started over. Fear tried to steal your identity after a divorce. Abuse had its fingers around your neck, but you struggled free.

You. 

You are brave.

And Jesus. 

He is weeping over you and he's so, so proud that you aren't bound by fear. Praying for you today and believing that fear will never hold you back.

Let's not live in fear, okay?