Yesterday was Father’s Day in America. It made me think about my family, particularly my father.
Since I was a child, I have rebelled against rules. Like most children, I was quick to see the hypocrisy in what I was told to do contrasted with what others did. The perceived unfairness of being held to a higher standard than what people did angered me, as though I were being set-up for failure by being held accountable to a higher or double-standard.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a family who – though humanly imperfect – was patient, loving, and who believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Watching their behavior as I matured gave me reason to aspire — and patience and forgiveness when I made mistakes. They admitted mistakes they made, were accountable for their sins, sought forgiveness, and instilled in me love for the Lord. Their love and compassion for each other and others seemed endless, and their willingness to forgive anything seemed beyond reason. Their sacrifices for (and defense of) those less fortunate were testaments to their faith, but it sometimes turned others against them. They sought justice for those who couldn’t defend themselves; fairness for those who had been treated unfairly. Sometimes they were criticized by others for having too much faith in people or being naïve; they replied that if Jesus could have faith in mankind, so could they.
My dad, in particular, stressed that the friends I chose would be important to my faith and well-being. We fought about the crowd I chose to “run with” throughout my early twenties. I was egotistical and independent and somewhat of an “adrenaline junkie.” Driven by a desire to please the people I love, Dad was right that who I gave my heart to mattered. When I chose friends or gave myself to relationships carelessly, I often did foolish things or did things I knew were sinful – and my perception of myself and the world around me darkened. When I learned to later choose friends and relationships wisely, I was better for having done so. My perceptions lightened, I regained my self-esteem, my spiritual compass, and only then did my relationships and faith blossom. Fortunately, my dad was still alive when I regained my balance and my faith — and we were able to heal the wounds of adolescence.
I have outlived most of the people in my life who were the role models of my early youth. Gone and missed are my dad and mom who so carefully crafted me, watched over me, laughed with me, encouraged me, supported me, guided me, forgave me, and loved me unconditionally through easy times and hard – including loving me enough to rebuke me when I went astray.
And although I have been blessed with a loving spouse, a beautiful daughter, son-in-law, sister, extended family and close friends, I find myself missing those who are no longer here — especially my dad and mom. And I wish we could sit awhile and talk and laugh again. I miss that.
But even without them, I am comforted by the knowledge that I have not been orphaned. Although my earthly parents are no longer with me, God is always with me, in the nature of God the Father, Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit. He is my spiritual family, my spiritual Father.
For me, it was when I accepted my role as a child of God that I became most comfortable with Him and unafraid. It is as a child of God that I found the relationship with my Lord that I had been searching. It is as His child that have been able to experience His love in a way that only a child can perceive, trust, understand, and return love. There is an innocence in a child’s love that casts off the noise and warnings of the material world and speaks to the eternal heart. It is as a child of God that I am most eager and able to follow Him and obey His will.
I am blessed to have had a such a wonderful, worldly father to love and honor on this Father’s Day. He no doubt was a gift from God to me and I miss him so much.
But even without Dad with me anymore, I am celebrating Father’s Day with my Lord. And you can too. There is no need for anyone to be a spiritual orphan. Nor any reason for anyone to face this world alone. God is patiently waiting, extending an open invitation to all to join Him and recognize Him as their Heavenly Father.
“About that time the disciples came to Jesus to ask which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven! Jesus called a small child over to him and set the little fellow down among them, and said, “Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And any of you who welcomes a little child like this because you are mine is welcoming me and caring for me. But if any of you causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for you to have a rock tied to your neck and thrown into the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6
I miss my dad this Father’s Day, but knowing that he is also a child of God makes me so very happy and grateful — and hopeful. Until we meet again.
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