“Happy Father’s Day!!”
Standing and looking out the sliding glass doors overlooking the pond our back, a strong message resonates in my mind: “Yours is a Dad-ness not worth celebrating.”
Some will immediately run to chastisement, admonishing me that, “That kind of negative self-talk is unbecoming a child of God.”
Probably so. But this is not a message that I’ve dreamed up on my own. God has brought me down a very long path of healing. The Toxic Shame messages of my growing-up years have pretty much subsided.
No, the message that resonates so powerfully in my mind and heart today is due to the very poor job I have done as a Dad.
Granted, the years of abuse I suffered at the hands of my own father somewhat handicapped me in a lot of ways. But I’ve had a hand full of good examples over the years, men who loved God, cherished their wives, adored their children.
Too selfish – that was the greatest handicap I had to being the kind of dad God intended for me to be.
Too busy trying to prove I wasn’t as worthless as I felt.
Too focused on accomplishing things that would improve my image that I neglected to invest in the most precious moments of my children’s lives.
And too selfish in my need to feel loved that I couldn’t see the love they had for me that was free and unconditional – which was exactly the kind of love I needed and couldn’t receive.
The children have turned out pretty well in spite of my inability to sacrifice my selfish wants and needs to love them the way they needed and deserved to be loved.
They are strong of character, long on integrity, and their work ethic is par excellence. People like and enjoy them, consider themselves blessed to have them as friends. They are looked up to and admired. I like them!
What was missing were enough of the picnics, the fishing, the popcorn and movie nights. Missing were enough of the long walks along the river, teaching them a skill that would be worthwhile, and not anywhere near enough laughter!
What I did invest in them was a love and reverence for God and His Word that I trust is true enough and deep enough to be sure we will walk with Jesus together one day.
If I could go back and recapture any one of the lost moments, any one of those missed opportunities, any of the bad choices and turn them into good ones, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But I will never regret that they know and understand the nature and character of God to such a degree and such an extent that they have long known the He loves them more than I ever could –so much so that they realize His greatest love for them was shown them when He sent His Son to pay the penalty for their sins.
Jesus Christ is their personal Lord and Savior, of that I am sure and for that I am deeply and eternally grateful.
My life may not be much worth celebrating this Father’s Day because of what I got wrong, but I got the most important thing right: My children each know God as their Heavenly Father and rest confidently in His love for them.
I love them; I’m proud of them; I know I will see them in Heaven one day…
I can smile and know that, despite my worst, I done good.
Soli Deo Gloria