In the last few days I saw a ‘No Father’s Day’ sign, and various blog titles boycotting Father’s Day for a variety of reasons. One that stands out was a young mom whose husband did nothing for her, therefore she will do nothing for him. Another was targeted to punish delinquent and abusive dads. Yet another was a dad who had a ‘lost/missing child’, with nothing to celebrate. His world was turned upside down, and without his daughter, Father’s Day has become meaningless.
These various reasons for cancelling Father’s Day, or boycotting it as several said it, played in my mind this morning before church. One seemed a bit petty, to me, say ‘he forgot about me, therefore I will punish him’, and yet I understand that it is painful and disappointing to be forgotten, especially in the early years of marriage and parenting. The others are a big deal. A very big deal.
Only subconsciously, at first, did my mind slip back to my own childhood… life at home.. terror of dad, and all the other reasons I should boycott Father’s Day. But I was too distracted by the very idea of it, to really think about what life was. It just seemed wrong, somehow, to boycott a day celebrating dads, because my experience was tragic.
When I wake up Father’s Day morning, next to the Daddy of my children, my heart is filled with joy. Tim is a calm, quiet, gentle, understanding man, who parents with patience… most of the time. Sure, he gets exasperated now and then, but rarely, and when he does, he guards his heart carefully. I’m proud of him, and blessed by him.
(As I write this, our fourteen year old son walks across the room, curls up on the couch, puts his head on Daddy–his ‘pillow’, he says–and snuggles a minute before running off. Admittedly, there is a part of me that watches, and wonders… What would it be like to have that kind of safety and trust with a father? The thought isn’t a jealous one… it is just foreign to me, and I can’t imagine such a thing.)
In church, two gentleman a father-and-son-in-law duet, did a special song–“Lead Me” by Sanctus Real. It was not only beautifully done, it was deeply moving. Men who care about the ‘heart cry’ of their wives and children… Men of honour. I held Tim’s hand, squeezed it a bit tighter. Thankful.
They ran a video clip before the message, of children of every age, paying tribute to their fathers. The first messages were warm, sweet. Good fathers. Just like my husband, I thought, and then the pain of what I never knew pierced my heart, for just an instant, stirring up memories and emotions of loss. A tear fell, but I willed the emotions to go away.
Father’s Day is a day I celebrate my husband and the men in my life who showed me what God is like, by their respect, their love and their integrity. I don’t deny the pain, I just don’t give it my full attention, and let it rob me of the good I know, by being consumed with the negative.
As the video progressed, the clips included children whose fathers were absent, whose fathers had hurt their families. Again the emotions surfaced, and more tears spilled. Conflicting emotions are the worst.
“Why the tears?” Tim whispered in my ear.
I smiled, shrugged. How do you explain to the man you love that you’re crying because he’s such an amazing man, and your heart ‘hurts like hell’ because you can’t imagine having had a dad like that? He didn’t need an explanation. The question was a sign of caring, more than looking for me to explain.
The service was good. Pastor Dan spoke about six gifts a father should give his children. Ironic, I thought to myself, it’s Father’s Day, and dad is being encouraged to be the gift giver.
The six gifts were:
1. Love their mother
2. Spiritual Direction
5. Consistent Discipline
Rating my husband on these, he gets a seriously high-end average. Rating how this played out in my childhood, I recognize the neglect, and all that I lost, and how much those losses have impacted my life over the years. And still do, from time to time.
It occurred to me, that if I boycotted Father’s Day, and focused on the negative and the ‘darkness’, then, inadvertently, I would set this day aside to celebrate that darkness. By celebrating what is good and right, despite the fact that so little was good and right in my childhood, in my relationship with my father, I put the focus on what is right, and promote what is good.
So today I focus on the moment when my father, in his old age, said, “Will you forgive me…?” I won’t deny the pain, but I won’t let it take more from me than it already took in childhood.
Having said that, we should continue to advocate for truth and justice. We should continue to stand against violence, abuse and neglect. We should not turn a blind eye to evil, nor deny the pain, but never should focusing on evil rob us of celebrating that which is good and right.
If for no other reason in the world, then for the sake of honouring what is good, and right, for the sake of promoting what fatherhood was intended to be, we should not cancel Father’s Day, or boycott it. We should honour all the fathers who sacrifice and fight for their families, their churches, their communities, their countries. And on Father’s Day we should thank them.
Thank you, and Happy Father’s Day, to the men in my life who represented fatherhood well, even though you were not my ‘real dad’. Some of you came and went quickly, passing through my life for only a day, an hour or a brief moment, but you blessed me in that time. Some of you were there for months, or years. Some of you have stayed to this day.
You are the men who impacted my life in a positive way, and I am indebted to you. Today I honour you.
Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series
Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series