Father’s Day has been a complicated and emotional holiday my entire life. When I was young it was because I did not have a father in the home to celebrate. When I grew older I understood enough to celebrate what I had rather than what I did not have. I celebrated my Papa, who was an exceptional man to me. He filled that hole in my heart as best he could coming to all the “father events” possible and pouring into my sister and I. He helped to provide shoes and winter coats and even a house for my mama to raise us in. He loved us well. Still, he wasn’t in my home daily, I missed that.
But I was learning something also. Love wasn’t about laying physical claim to someone you begat. It wasn’t about measuring time with them or money spent on them as if they were a possession to win or to prove your responsibility. It had much more to do with putting their needs before your own. It was about laying yourself down so that they might prosper. My Papa did that so very well. I will carry that lesson forever.
As I grew even older, I began to dream about the man I would marry and the father he would be to our children. I wondered if he would know what it meant to be a true father. I eventually married the love of my life, my Papa went to Heaven and my dear husband became the focus of Father’s Day for me.
I was so grateful he loved me and our children selflessly. My heart saw in him the same things that were in my Papa, devotion to God and his family and a laying down of himself, so that he could bless his wife and children. Many men can “father” children but it takes someone special to be a Daddy. A man who honors his commitment to the mother of his children and honors his God, above his own flesh is a true father and will indeed love his children well.
My husband went to Heaven February of last year at the age of 46, and this is our second Father’s Day without him. For some reason, the hurt is more pronounced. I guess some of the clouds of intense sorrow have drifted back a bit so I can, actually see, my riddled heart, peeling back the layers some to see if it’s still beating.
I ask myself questions like, “Who am I now? What does the future hold?” and then the other day I heard someone pose this question,” What does it mean to belong?”
I didn’t even know it’s a question my soul had been asking. The voice of my heart spoke it so softly I couldn’t even hear the words. Rather it was a gentle humming disquiet in my spirit.
The day of Alan’s passing still rather fresh, I thought about how he had fought brave and hard for 14 months this cancer that invaded his brain. I remember the day he told us that he had wrestled with the Lord about leaving us. He had questioned him. How would we, his family, go on? Who would provide and care for us? The Lord had reassured him that he would care for us even better than Alan could. It was the peace he needed.
So, when Alan’s spirit flew to Heaven, I leaned in even harder. Where do I belong Lord? How will I take care of these four children? How do I help them grieve with hope? Alan was home to me. This house is not my home. This state isn’t even my home. But he was my home. I could have lived anywhere with him. But, without him Lord? What will I do?
As my children and I spent time grieving, praying, and even worshipping we began to hear our Father’s whisper. Though the clouds of grief hung low, His word pierced the darkness.
One of the verses He lead me to was,“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Ps. 18:19
The kids and I felt Him calling us away, to follow where He lead. To pack up our belongings and move to a new home in a new state five hours away. There were many unknowns but we grasped the hand of the one who knows all. Would it be hard? Of course! Would we feel lonely? Sometimes!
But when we could have been filled with fear and confusion He led us forth with certainty. Our certainty was not in the fact that we were exchanging our old home for a new one and things would be different. Our certainty was in the fact that we were taking our home with us. Christ Jesus was our home, had always been, but we needed reminded. Not only is He our home but He is our Father. A Father who never leaves! Not because he chooses to through his actions or through illness. He is constant, steadfast, ever faithful!
As we have spent the last year carving out a place in these gentle green hills of Tennessee, I have felt the Lord pulling out the weeds in my heart so that I can see the dreams He planted so long ago. He has taught our family that we can do hard things when He is with us. He has reminded me that his Body of Christ is very big indeed and as a member of that Body, I belong. My belonging isn’t based on my feelings or even the circumstances of life I feel tossed upon me. My”belonging” is based on the truth of His word.
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Rom. 8:38
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Rom. 12:5
So, if you are hearing a loud voice speak into your heart, “You don’t belong!” Wash it with the truth. Perhaps it isn’t loud, but just a gentle disquiet that nags at your spirit saying, “Everyone has a place but you.”
Our Father speaks a different message. He says we are His, we belong with Him and nothing can separate us beloved. Draw near to Him.
And, if you are wondering how to celebrate Father’s Day without a father, you have your answer, and I do too! We all have a Father. He is waiting for us to “lift up our eyes” and see his goodness and provision that have always been there even if our earthly father’s has or not. He is faithful beloved. Faithful! One of the sweetest words known to man! May you feel it and know it this Father’s Day