Take a fresh look at dear old Dad

Fathers come in all shapes and sizes and all personalities.

Blog. Dad. Baby foot. 6l2021One thing is common to all: Even the best of them have--or had--flaws because, well, they're human beings.

Some dads provide for their family and are physically present, but they remain detached emotionally. Others live with one goal: Provide for their family and give them what they need, plus surround them with love.   

Perhaps the man who reared you and did his best to love you wasn't your "natural father," so you shut him out. Now you know he endured pain, too. Why not speak (or write) a few words of respect--and gratitude?  

Some of us can't get past our list of what we lacked while growing up

What better time to take a new inventory? You might see there were blessings sprinkled in, too, and you never noticed.  

Maybe your loving, stressed-out mom had to go it alone, but an "outsider" in your life nurtured you and influenced you in ways that built strength. A teacher, a coach, a neighbor, or just a kind individual who knew when a kid needs a friend. That's a gift, you know. Have you ever thanked this person?  

All these men--or father figures--were there. They gave of themselves, however imperfectly. That counts for something, doesn't it?

Father's Day offers the perfect "excuse" to say the words that matter. Do it now.

And thank God, too, for what was--and is--love.  

Love is patient and kind ... Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.     1 Corinthians 13:1a, 7  ESV

When if you missed out on all that?  

Maybe you're muttering, "Yeah, sure. Easy for you to talk!"

Maybe your dad wasn't there--or he just showed up once in awhile. 

That hurts down deep and it's easy to get stuck in what you missed out on. The only way I know to be free of that weight is to let it go. Lay it at the cross of Jesus and move on. Look for what's good now.

One more thing: Revisit your memories, slowly, thoughtfully. Ask God to show you any glimmers of blessing you might have missed and thank God for that.  

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32  ESV 

Say it now, while you can 

Perhaps it feels like it has been too long and words are hard to find. Set aside your discomfort and do it anyhow.  

My dad was like most men of his era and didn't talk much about love. Because of distance I saw my parents infrequently, especially after we moved West. As my father got older I called more often but most of the time we just made unsatisfying small talk.  

As years went by I realized I had not put into words what Dad meant to me. So whenever I sent him a letter or greeting card I noted a few qualities I honestly appreciated about him as a man and as a father. And every time we talked by phone I made sure to tell him a time or two, "I love you, Dad," before I hung up.

Later on, after he died, it comforted my heart to remember those conversations. I'll always be glad I did that. 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13  ESV

Most of us find our insight improves over the years

Probably we understand our parents better once we have children of our own. Your dad and my dad had to learn and grow and endure the same struggles we all do when we have children. 

Did they make mistakes? Of course. 

For me, I know my father did the best he could, even in the hard times and remained patient and kind. Through all the serious health issues and other hardships my parents faced, they lived out their faith in Jesus Christ.  

In countless ways my mother and all our family were blessed because Dad was there for us. Always. No matter what came.  

I took that for granted for much of my life. More and more since my father died I understand that who Dad was as a person blessed me. It influenced how I live and who I am, even today. 

The righteous who walks in his integrity--blessed are his children after him!   Proverbs 20:7  ESV

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.  Proverbs 14:26  NIV

What if our emotions are all over the place?

First, let's be patient with ourselves and not be afraid to talk to our loving Heavenly Father about our joys and woes. Whatever is on our hearts.

Psalm 103:13 tells us why we can feel free to do so.   

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.  NIV

If you're not sure he would welcome you, think of this verse, which shows the depth and enormity of God's love: 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16  ESV

That's a love you can trust and settle down in. 

My prayer for you, Gentle Reader, is that you feel the Father's love warming your heart right now and every day.



June 18, 2020

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