Trying to pick a card for Father’s Day is difficult these days. None of the cards I find seem to reflect my experience, gratefulness, or love that I have for the men in my life. I don’t have a grandfather who grew up in this country, a dad who loves sports, or a husband who played football, and none one of them are TV watchers. My grandfather did many activities with me and did not just sit in a rocking chair talking to me. My dad worked very hard for all of his life and still has yet to retire. My husband is extremely active in the lives of our children and does not leave the responsibility of raising our kids on me alone. So that eliminates about 90% of the cards out there and the rest of them are just plain silly.
Looking back on my life there are three significant fathers: my grandfather, my dad, and my husband. Each one shaped my life because they added significant value though teaching, contributed to healing the hurts, and nurtured my soul. Fathers do not come in one size fits all. Perhaps you do not have the ideal family background either, but we can reflect on the men in our life that helped us and give thanks to them.
My Grandfather. For many years in my life my grandfather served as both a grandfather and a father. My “baby daddy” was an abusive alcoholic adulterer that my mother, brother, and I left when I was only three years old. We moved in with my grandparents and from then until I was about nine years old, my grandfather was more of a father then a grandfather. He was compassionate, kind, gentle, always made time for me, and very loving. He taught me to listen to others and understand where they are coming from before jumping to conclusions. He was from Hungary and had much of the “old world” mentality so extended family was not really extended, we were all immediate family. He is the one who taught me to believe in God, a seed that has grown very strong in me as an adult and I’m eternally grateful for this gift. His unconditional love for me healed the hurt of not having a dad in my life.
My Dad. He married my mother when I was twelve years old and then promptly adopted both my brother and me. He did not need to do this. He already had children of his own, but he did this out of love for us to give us a complete family not just an integrated one. His willingness to adopt me showed me what it means to be an adopted member of the Kingdom of God and helped me to feel as though I belonged to someone. The healing that comes from this is beyond measure and even to this day I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his generosity. He taught me the value of hard work, how to stick things out through the tough times, dedication beyond feeling love to family, and determination. These gifts are present in me today and I see the benefits of his gifts in my life and the lives of my children.
My Husband. He is the father of all three of our children and having him as an active part of their lives has been the greatest gift. We all want to give our children more than what we have and sometimes we think of these gifts in terms of more stuff, more privileges, more money, or more time. I see it in terms of being able to give my children the gift of a consistent dad who loves God, is dedicated to his family, and enjoys spending time with them. My kids don’t have more toys than I did as a child, but they do have the same father who gave them life to also serve as a role model. This is far more precious of a gift than anything money could buy and watching them with him has brought healing to my own struggles as a child.
This year, think of the men in your life who have helped you and been a father to you in some way. Then take a moment to thank them for them and the not so obvious gifts that they have given you. Oh, and throw away the card, trust me, they will appreciate your sincere gratitude so much more.