This entry will post a day after Father’s Day because having just posted a long entry on Saturday, I hadn’t prepared an entry about Father’s Day. I only write posts when God prods my heart, and despite not planning on writing today, I spent quite a bit of the day being emotional. I prayed a lot for comfort today. My father-in-law passed away a few years ago and the last time we saw him was Father’s Day when my daughter was just born, so Father’s Day is hard for my husband in a way that I can only imagine even though I grieve for him as well. We knew he wasn’t doing well, but had no idea that would be the last time we’d see him. He was hospitalized but it wasn’t tremendously serious. We didn’t know that he wouldn’t ever truly recover from the procedure and wouldn’t live to see his son home from Iraq the following February. And there is no do-over button for the things that didn’t get said, the efforts that didn’t get made. We can only pray that he is waiting for us in Heaven.
My father is still alive, but struggling with several health issues, so I know I only have so many Father’s Days and just too few days left of our earthly relationship. As I thought about losing our dads and how powerful a presence our fathers were in both our lives, I realized more than ever the importance of my husband’s role in the lives of his daughter and sons.
This morning after church, I watched her excitedly scrawling her name on his card, her tongue poking out in concentration. She got three letters in and stopped to admire her work. “I think I’m doing a pretty good job,” she said, smiling with pride. In her tiny eyes, this simple card was a huge outpouring of her heart. She offers us wild flowers (read weeds) as if they were giant bouquets of prized roses, really offering us her heart with the weed or rock she’s presenting. What care we should take with her precious gift!
I know my dad was important to me. I remember being the little girl who just wanted her daddy. I still feel that way, the little girl who wants her superman daddy to fly her through the air, tickle her with his scratchy beard, loves the smell of chlorine and Old Spice because they remind me of going to the Y with Daddy.
Throughout most of my life, I based my every success and failure on his responses. I may just be a typical daddy’s girl, but in the deepest places of my heart and life, who my dad was and is has affected most of what I’ve done with my life both in positive ways and negative. I made decisions to make him proud, to spite him, to hear his laugh, to make him angry, and to win his approval. My dad was the voice in my head when I thought about who God is, when I thought about who I am. Watching my daughter with her father, I suspect, she will be the same. All the more reason for me to love her father with all that I am, to help him demonstrate his tenderness and compassion, to create opportunities for him to share his love of the outdoors with her, for him to share his love with her.
Psalm 103:13 ESV “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
God wants us to equate His love and gentleness with how a father should treat his children. This verse gives us two answers, one how compassionate a Lord we serve and what an earthly father should strive to be.
And I know my daughter loves me, seeks me out, plays with me, wants my attention, but when Daddy walks through the door, she is all about him. She must say, “Watch Me, Daddy!” ten times a day. “Watch me spin, Daddy.” “Watch me dance.” “Watch me swim, Daddy.”
And she performs her little trick, which is sometimes no trick at all, sometimes doesn’t go right, or sometimes comes when he is distracted with a pressing task. But her face is full of light and joy waiting for him to celebrate her achievement, celebrate her. He gets it right most of the time, but sometimes, he’s busy, tired, or just doing something else, and she gets less than his full attention or best words of encouragement or praise.
In that moment, when her face falls, I feel devastated for her. I understand that she tries to be the center of attention at inopportune moments, but she doesn’t yet have that capacity. I understand that part of good parenting isn’t letting her be the center of our world all the time. She needs to learn patience and to put others first. But her tiny face is a window into her heart like few others I’ve seen, and when she is hurt, I can read it all over every nuance of her expression.
Luke 11:11-12 ESV “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”
Most parents want to give their children good things, want to love them. We do our earthly best, but the world is a tough place. We have a myriad of challenges and responsibilities. Even our families hurt us, sometimes our families hurt us the most.
She needs to know he sees her. She longs to know he hears her. She crawls on him and begs him to hold her. She desperately loves him and wants to be loved by him.
And he fails her. I fail her. Her brothers push her away, won’t share their toys; they ride their bikes faster than she can keep up, and she feels the hurt. My husband and I fail the boys. We all fall down. Man, I hate feeling like that. Just thinking about how much we hurt them because we’re human makes me want to cry. We need to remember that being a parent is a gift from God, a blessing.
Psalm 127:3-5 ESV “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord . . . “
A heritage from the Lord, meaning an inheritance, a gift from Him. What an incredible responsibility to care for a gift from God, I feel utterly under-equipped for the job, and I have a degree in teaching children. My soldier husband whose heart is so buried under layers of the army, struggles with finding that gentle, compassionate place sometimes. We both struggle with the guilt of making mistakes and sinning in our parenting.
My dad said something pretty profound once. I’m sure more than once, Dad (who is probably reading this), but this one I carry around in my heart a lot these days. He told me once, “God gave us parents so we would need Him.” I didn’t really understand what he meant until I realized how the human frailty of my parents unintentionally hurt me and I needed God’s healing and love, and how my sin and frailty will wound my kids, and they will need God’s healing and love. We brought sin into the world, but God can use it to point us to Him, forever drawing us. That is why the most important job a daddy has on earth is to point toward our perfect heavenly father.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
We need to point them toward God because when we turn out not to be enough, they need to know where to look. Both my husband and myself have looked for the “answer” to happiness in life in many ways. I only found it when I started looking toward God. My parents taught me where to look when I realized that I couldn’t fill the hole in my heart. Not even my daddy could fill the hole that only a Godly Father could. Hers won’t either, no matter how hard he tries.
I hope to teach her where to look, even though I am still learning how to stand in front of God, arms out, offering my weeds, saying “Watch me, Daddy.”