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.