I remember that last Father’s Day that I didn’t cherish. It was 1997, I remember pulling up to church at Malibu, sitting in the parking lot and telling Amy, “This is the last place I want to be.” You see my father was absent from about 4th grade on. Before that, he was a serial adulterer until my mom finally had enough of his philandering and said “Get out.” Once he did, he started a new life with another family and left us in the dust.
That was painful for me. It took many, many years for me to try to understand why and how a guy can leave his five children and walk away from that kind of responsibility. My self image was significantly damaged as I wondered what was wrong with me that he wouldn’t want to be a part of my life. So year after year when Fathers Day rolled around, it wasn’t a day of celebration, but a day of pain.
BUT–Then on May 1, 1998, God blessed me and Amy with Madeline. And On June 14th, 1998 I couldn’t wait to get to church and celebrate being a Father myself. The bummer of it was there were all sorts of mudslides and I couldn’t make it to church in Malibu, so we had to go to another church by us, and guess what? It was BUDGET SUNDAY! Unbelievable!
- Being a Father myself has been a healing salve that has cured much of the pain that my own father had inflicted on me through his abandonment.
- Being a father has cemented my resolve to continually be present in my girls’ lives. To be faithful to Amy. To STAY . . . even when it is difficult–and trust me–there have been difficult times.
- Being a parent myself has been so much of a blessing then it has been a burden as I feared it might be growing up thinking that is why my dad left.
- Being a father has helped me see that it wasn’t my fault dad left, but his own weakness. I thank God for healing my heart through the love of my daughters.
- Fortunately, God surrounded me with scores of men who showed me what it means to be a man myself like Conrad, Todd, Jim, Barry, Dave, Ed, Marshall, Wilson, as well as giving me enough sense to watch closely the wonderful examples of Fathering that He surrounded me with and learned tons from like Ken , Bob , Scott , Gordon , Bryan, Rick, Clarence, and countless others.
One weekend I remember going through all the names of God in the devotional book Experiencing God, and the name that struck straight to my soul what that he is a “Father to the fatherless.” That truth touched me deeply. It gave me tremendous hope and encouragement. It rang a bell of truth for me that reminded me how I have been cared, nurtured and Fathered by YHWH God–Abba…
This is the truth that hopefully reaches the souls of those who didn’t have a father growing up. I am also thankful for the many, many testimonies of those who have great fathers for it gives me something to work for with my own daughters. I could let jealousy get me bitter, but I am thankful for that vision of what to strive for. So for those of you who today is a day with pain, loss or abandonment, may you take solace in the fact that God is Abba who will never forsake you, abandon you, or forget you.
Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds—
his name is the Lord—
and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.