It should be such an easy holiday, right? A barbecue, a tie, a homemade card. It wasn’t for me and isn’t for so many and yet now, more than ever, I see the need to celebrate Fatherhood. The work these men are called to is holy. It’s one only they can do.
As a child whose father didn’t live with her. I hungered for a father for many reasons. They represented safety, protection, provision and love to me.
I saw them as strong, defenders of their families.
My first real memory of my father was the day, he sat my sister and I down on a picnic bench in our brand new backyard. We had only lived in this town for 2 weeks so I remember a mixture of excitement and an element of nervous unknown. I was four years old and I had no idea that he was saying goodbye.
My grandparents made the quickest drive to pack us up and bring us to live with them in a high-rise apartment in Chicago. I honestly have no other memories from that day. Just me and my sister on the picnic table with my Dad. Then my memories disappear until we settled in with my grandparents. They created a haven of rescue for my heart. It was the place my heart could truly rest.
I’m told there was turmoil over the next few years, as two little girls wrestled with weekend visits and their new normal. I don’t remember it. I only remember the way my grandparents picked up the broken pieces and the way my mother bravely soldiered on.( I’m writing about it now in a fiction book for children, based on my story. )
I watched my grandfather, work hard to provide. I watched him love people with his hands, that always served and and I felt joy when I heard his hearty laugh, it filled in the broken spaces I carried.
We moved across the country a few years later and my grandfather kept his place in my life by always being there in person when he could. He drove 12 hours many weekends just to see me act on a stage or run in a track meet, and there were always, weekly phone calls. He was steady, and faithful and strong.
But my eyes were always searching for other examples of “true fathers”.
As I saw them I stored up the qualities they carried, in my heart. It taught me what “true fathers” were made of.
The common denominator in all of them seemed to be a strong faith in Jesus. They loved sacrificially. They protected, provided and were faithful.
So when it came time for me to choose a husband I looked for those same qualities.
God was gracious and gave them to me in my husband, Alan. However, I could never have imagined that before our kids were grown he would leave us, not of his own choosing but following a battle with brain cancer. So there I was, with fatherless children. The one thing I never wanted them to become.
It’s been three years of a fatherless child, raising fatherless children and here is what I’ve learned.
God makes up the difference.
The men I have loved that made a difference, have been the men who have allowed themselves to emptied of their own flesh and filled with his Spirit. It has enabled them to love others more than themselves. It has kept them faithful to their God who makes them strong and their families who need them. It has even given them the ability to love the fatherless ones outside their family circle.
Something happens when men choose to lay down their lives and let Jesus have all of them. God multiplies the effect they have. By pouring His power into them, the fruit they bear reaches far beyond themselves.
For those of us who have been fatherless children we see this! We see you put others before yourself. We see you love, and serve and support not only your own but others too. And we commend you for having put your faith in Jesus, for He has enabled you to love in this way..
You may never know who sees you and is encouraged, and I pray that more men will allow their love to grow beyond their own tribe and spill out on the fatherless children around them.
To all of us, whether we have wonderful fathers, absent fathers, or overwhelmed fathers we must also remember, that we are loved by the Greatest Father of All.
He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.
He is a safe place. His love never fails.
He sees you. He knows you. He has your name inscribed on his palm. And nothing we desire compares to Him.