“You patiently loved me when I was difficult… You celebrated my achievements…” The card in my hand spoke all manner of nice things about fathers. I put it back, picked up the next one. “You were always there for me, loving, caring and teaching…”
Every year it was the same thing, standing in front of the card rack, trying to find a card that said, ‘In spite of everything, I love you! Happy Father’s Day’, without all the other niceties that didn’t fit. Every year the same quiet breaking of something inside and the wishing I could either experience the wonder of having that ‘Daddy’, or say it as it really was…
Every year when this day rolls around my heart hurts a little… because every year I am reminded of what a father-daughter relationship could be. I am sad, not only for what I lost, but what you missed out on. In fact, if I am perfectly honest, I feel more sad for you than for me… It must be lonely, surrounded by children, but with walls around your heart, that keep them out…
I know you’ve been hurt, and it is hard for you to risk relationships, hard for you to trust, even your own children. And you have hurt us–hurt me–and you find it hard to forgive yourself, or accept forgiveness, because you feel helpless to overcome the cycle of abuse. Truth is, I can’t imagine living with some of the things you have done, and I don’t know what to do with it, in our relationship…. In spite of all of this, you are my father, and I love you. There is a deep desire within me to have a relationship with you that is real; to face the brokenness of what has been, with honesty…. and that desire will never go away. Because every little girl wants to be her daddy’s princess.
Today I will settle for being your daughter, and love you and bless you, broken and imperfect, believing that one day our relationship will heal.
With Love on Father’s Day,
I never found a card that arranged those kinds of thoughts in poetic verse, or incorporated them into something ‘Father’s Day appropriate’. And I never had the courage to write these things out or even say them, other than quiet whispers, through tears, to my Heavenly Father–my ‘Papa’–when I shared those deep desires, hoping one day He would heal.
And God granted my request. Every Father’s Day I remember with deep gratitude sitting by his bedside numerous times in his last eighteen months, watching him weep, listening to a broken man speak from a place behind the walls of his heart. His grief, at who he had become and what he had done, and all he had lost because of it, along with gratefulness for mercy, poured out in those tears. And almost every year, on Father’s Day and the anniversary of dad’s passing, I think of ‘Living Years, by Mike and the Mechanics‘ and thank God we had some healing and some conversations in the living years.
Granted, there was so much history that all we could really do is acknowledge it, and each deal with it in our hearts. There is no undoing it, no ‘unremembering’ or forgetting. There was only ‘remembering with grace’, and working through the trauma, one layer at a time, with the ‘knowing’ that God will redeem it, somehow. And I thank God for this redemption.
Today, to all you dads–the good and whole ones, and the imperfect and broken ones–your daughters and sons long for relationship. They may have tough exteriors and broken hearts, but behind those fronts is a deep longing, buried under the pain. In fact, their anger is a sure sign of a deep desire; betrayal can only happen when their should be trust, and it can only hurt when we care, or once cared. So maybe they will need space from you because you wounded them; give them permission to find that space. Maybe it will take a long time, and even the humility and patience to release them and wait until they are ready; be willing to wait. But never stop believing that they long to know you.
To all you sons and daughters who couldn’t find a card that fit, because not one touched on that deep pain… or who didn’t even bother to look for one this year, because he wouldn’t even care if you did try…. Today, I remind you that you are worth more than he did to you. You are worth being acknowledged… loved… embraced… held. You are worth being celebrated. Your Heavenly Father–your ‘Papa’–celebrates you. That’s true whether you believe in him or not. You are created in His image, to reflect His heart. He delights in you! And the joy you bring Him, causes Him to sing over you with deep affection. (Zephaniah 3:17)
To all you ‘daddies at heart’ who were never able to have children, or maybe even marry, I pray blessing over you, as you mentor and ‘father’ the orphan children in your life who need someone to listen and care.
And to all you daddies whose children have passed away, and the sons and daughters whose daddies have passed away, may God comfort you today. Alone or surrounded, and possibly celebrating the relationships you have, today is a reminder of a lonely ache in a place in your heart that could only ever belong to that one person. I pray that God will fill your day with kind words, hope, and understanding friends, and much love from those around you.
To my husband, thank you for showing me what the word ‘Papa’ means, in the way you love and care for your family. Each year I am more thankful for you and the love you live in our lives. I would choose you all over again, and walk this way again, with you.
~ T ~