A few weeks ago, I posted this question on Facebook: what’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “dad?” Some people responded with single word answers like unshakable, trustworthy, and love.
Still others had to elaborate even more, as if one word couldn’t sum up their memories of their fathers. Here’s what they said:
“Strength. He would protect his family no matter what. Nothing could stop him.”
“Magical. He could fix anything and make the scary monsters in my room disappear.”
“Dependable. Always there no matter what the reason is.”
“Protector . . . especially if I had a scary dream.”
“I don’t have a word that comes to mind, but instead a picture of holding hands with my dad.”
“I can picture him on our tractor mowing . . . cutting wood in the fall to heat our home through the winter.“
“Soft shoe dancing wherever and whenever the music hits.”
These memories that my friends shared reminded me of how many great dads there are out there. Sometimes that’s easy to forget because fathers get so much bad press.
So many stories you hear about dads are negative, many justly so. You hear about dads ditching their families, abusing their kids or just being an all around jerk. I’ve watched grown men and women weep over the relationship they wish they’d had with their fathers but never could. It seems like no one has the capacity to mess up a person’s life like a dad.
Yet, those Facebook comments also show me that few people have the capacity to bless a kid like their dad. For so many of us our dads were Superman. I know mine definitely was for me. Still is.
He was the strongest guy in the world. Even though I had a wild imagination and could picture a boogeyman around every corner, I always felt safe with my dad, and I always felt loved.
That’s why it was so easy for me to follow God as an adult. My relationship with my dad on earth prepared me for my relationship with a Dad in heaven. Some people aren’t so lucky. It’s hard for some of you to think of God as a perfect Father because your dad was less than what you needed him to be.
I’m genuinely sorry for that. And God is too.
I think the reason people are so disappointed with absent or abusive fathers is that deep down we sense we were made for a relationship with a different kind of dad. When you don’t get that as a kid, you feel ripped off and rightly so.
Maybe you even convince yourself you never needed a dad in the first place. If that’s the boat you’re in, I understand. It makes total sense, but I’d also encourage you to not let a crummy dad on earth cheat you out of friendship with an incredible Dad in heaven.
Father’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate the dads who got it right and to forgive the dads who didn’t. But even better than that, it’s the chance to embrace the one Dad who will never leave you, never hurt you and will always be the Dad you need.