Yesterday was the first Father’s Day… without my Dad. I’ve been reflecting as the day approached and wanted to share some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind.
As you would expect…I miss my Dad! No one loved me more or believed in me more than my Dad. From the day I was born my Dad was my biggest cheerleader.
And yet, let me be real, authentic and genuine. Father’s Day last year was my worst Father’s Day ever. After my father went through several years of declining health with severe COPD, difficulty breathing, mobility issues, etc.; he then had a hospital stay in February where we didn’t know if he would survive or ever come home. By God's grace, He did, but that led to several months of rehab in our home with increased physical & emotional suffering. Then on Father’s Day last year my Dad had a heart attack that led to the last 2 weeks of his life; ending with his Homegoing to heaven on June 28th. When you have to call hospice in and have to watch your Dad suffering…it’s NOT a good Father’s Day.
On top of that, on Father’s Day last year, Cathy’s Dad, who also lives with us and has Alzheimer’s, suddenly couldn’t stand up or walk. So that meant we physically had to start transferring him from his bed to a wheelchair. This meant no more showers or toileting so…you know what that means. Yes, Cathy’s Dad and my Dad…both taking significant turns for the worse…last Father’s Day! So, definitely our most difficult Father’s Day!
Caregiving for both of our dads in our home (4 years for my Dad and now 8 years for Cathy’s Dad) has been both an honor and a privilege…and difficult at times, emotionally and physically. That said, we wouldn’t trade it. We are confident we have honored and served our dads well and that we have honored the Lord in the process.
Would I want my Dad back here on earth now? No. He was suffering and I rejoice in God’s goodness in taking him Home. Some people have said “Sorry you lost your Dad.” Here’s the deal…I didn’t “lose” my Dad! I know exactly where he is! This is the Blessed Assurance, the Blessed Hope that we as Christians sing about! Also, I am comforted by the promises of God that there will be a day of reuniting with our loved ones who know Christ. Wow! What a promise!
Father's Day can bring up hard emotions to tackle, but perhaps it can also help us to cultivate a right heart toward dads. If you have lost your father, you can know just like I know, that we still have a dad who watches over us. As I reflected on the love of my earthly father, it helped to spark a gratitude for my heavenly Father.
I reflect on the many life lessons I learned from my Dad, on a lifetime of meaningful memories of and with my Dad! I am thankful that I always knew the love of my earthly father…and that I know my dad always knew my love for him. If you still have your dad (or your son or daughter) with you…let them know that you love them…unconditionally. Don’t leave anything left unsaid that you will wish you had said, things like “I love you”, I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”, things like “I’m so proud of you”. Don’t wait until they are gone and then have to live with your regrets. With my dad, I have no regrets! If you didn’t have a good relationship with your dad or if your dad wasn’t a good father (like mine was), my heart goes out to you. I know I was blessed to have a good relationship with my dad, but there were struggles there, as well.
Here’s my challenge to you. First, forgive your earthly father. He was probably doing the best he knew how…and you don’t know all the events and “scripts” that might have been written into his life that led to his choices and his failure to be a good father.
Second, if you’re a father, determine to be the dad you never had! Be the dad your children deserve! Break the strongholds and chains of dysfunction that may have occurred in your family. Say, “This stops here! I will build a legacy of future generations where Dads (and Moms) do it right!” Finally, know that you have a heavenly Father who loves you and wants to have a deep relationship with you. As the song says, “He’s a Good, Good Father”! https://youtu.be/-ak0OoFBw3c
This Father’s Day was different than other Father's Days I have celebrated. I have reflected on the love of my dad, but even more on my heavenly Father. I am grateful for His constant Presence and for His faithful Promises. I am grateful for His unconditional Love, for His unending Grace and His Mercies that are new every morning. I am thankful that, although I no longer have the presence of my earthly father that I have a heavenly Father who has promised “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Wow! What a promise!
So on this Father’s Day, I miss my Dad. I honor him and his memory and I rest and rejoice in the love and presence of my heavenly Father! My prayer is that you can also do the same.