June is full of special days. There are weddings, recitals, and graduations…and then there is Father’s Day. Oh, how I hated Father’s Day. It almost made me dread the whole month of June.
I didn’t have a dad anymore. I felt cheated. I hated that others had a dad to celebrate. It didn’t seem fair. I didn’t want to be gracious or magnanimous about it at all. I was jealous and angry. I felt like I had to be a phony all that day and try to pretend the gaping hole in my heart didn’t exist. Sometimes I felt like a self-pitying, whining, ungrateful brat. I hated that too. I wanted to just stay in bed. But my husband had a father and my children did too. I knew we needed to celebrate. It was hard to survive the day, but I worked at it…for years.
When I was in my 30’s, I attended a huge conference at the Civic Center in Philadelphia. In the overload of teaching that long week, a verse sprang off the pages of my Bible, one I had seen before, but this time it felt like David, thousands of years earlier, had penned the words specifically for me.
Psalm 68:5 says that God is “Father of the fatherless…” I know it sounds impossible, but I had never thought of myself in those terms before. I knew I didn’t have a dad, but that awful label, fatherless? Yes, I was! And God cared so much about me (and those like me) and because He knew the sadness, insecurity and loneliness I (and others like me) felt without a dad, He addressed the situation directly in His Word. I was astonished! Here was a Truth, a promise, I needed to grasp. I wasn’t abandoned at all. I still had a Father, The Father. And I was His child!
Believe me, no matter how old you get, you never outgrow the longing for a father. Even when biological fathers leave, wound, betray, or fail us, something in us craves that one-of-a-kind relationship. The very word father conjures up sentimental and emotional responses in my heart even today, and I’m a 64-year-old grandmother. For me, it still conveys the notion of protection, security, leadership, vision, affection, understanding, wisdom, safety, authority, belonging, and love. No, you don’t outgrow that desire to have all these, to have someone who cares enough for you to provide them for you. I think it’s because God puts it there.
I was blessed to have an earthly dad who tried his best to represent the character and beauty of my Heavenly Father and to care for his children as the Father would. I think he was, without knowing he would soon have a massive heart attack, making it easy for me to transition my hope, loyalty, and affection to my Heavenly Father. A good father reflects the love of the Heavenly Father and helps us to know Him. I think that’s every father’s job, isn’t it?
I have since found many promises and words of comfort and encouragement in Scripture that reference my being a beloved child of the Father. Another favorite one comes from Romans 8:15. “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption…” Adopted! Paul then adds the Aramaic word for father, a word young children might use, and continues his address. “By him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” What intimacy I am privileged to have with the Heavenly Father, King of the universe, my Daddy.
So Father’s Day has changed for me. The one in June doesn’t bother me—too much. No, I have come to think of every day as Father’s Day. I celebrate my loving Heavenly Father Who blessed me with a good dad for a short time on this earth and has adopted me now as His very own child. I am humbled and grateful.
And I’m sure my Father can beat yours anytime, anywhere…unless, of course, we have the same Father. I hope so.
Then we can celebrate Him every day together.