Happy Father's Day!
But what if it isn't a Happy Father's Day? What if you have a child missing or a father gone? What if there are wounds in a relationship that make talking painful, let alone celebrate the 'Hallmark" relationship? What if the Father's Day you are having is bitter sweet because you have the love and presence of one child and your other child is busy going off the rails far from your love and help? What if you have a father who is missing to addictions or in a new life with a new family, has no time or room for you? What if your Father's Day is anything but happy...
There is a father I know who I met for the first time at his son's funeral. He and the Mom hadn't been together for years, he had waited too long to reach out to his adult son. Then one day the call came and that child was gone, forever from his life. At the funeral he sat behind me, stone faced and staring straight ahead. The only words I heard him say is, "He is gone, it is too late." and I knew it was the words that were unspoken that were killing him, that the casket with boots, flowers and photo on top screamed silently at him. He stood tall and still, so like him who was gone - and his shoulders shook.
I know a father who strove to have his children follow his paths, listen to his rules and obey him. He was raised in a way that enforced a world where he was in control of everything. His children grew and moved into their own lives, feeling that when they were together they were going to be judged, as they were as children, and found lacking. They kept their children away, they distanced themselves except for some controlled family gatherings, they even distanced themselves from each other. Siblings separated by the cold gulf of dysfunctional control, even when it was clothed in Christian garb. He wished for them to fulfill his wishes, not their own. His love was often delivered without a gentle touch, and was often hard to find.
I know a Dad, he is a great Dad to his small son. He is doing everything right and every night he goes to bed wondering about the child he never had the chance to parent. She was taken from him before she was two, and the rest of her life, until recently was kept a secret from him and his family. They didn't even know where she was until she came looking for them, but not as a child seeking a parent. She came looking for payback, revenge, an accounting for her version of the events. She came looking for what she wanted and couldn't see what was being offered. He gave her what he prayed over and knew was best. She bolted into a life which is troubling at least and at the worst deadly. He struggles with how he could have been a Dad and wonders what would have been different if he had had a chance, even a little earlier.
I know a woman who only celebrated Father's Day with her husband, she has no idea who her own father is, has had no father in her life. She is surrounded by friends and family, and love yet her heart wonders what would have been different - better or worse?
I know another woman who struggles with her anger at her father, the injustice of their relationship sours even the small moments that were good, the times that held love and laughter. His shortcomings and failings have colored her world. She aches for her children and their father to have something better and when they don't she tries to 'fix' things. She is broken when they fall apart again.
I have a call to make to my own Dad, to wish him a Happy Father's Day. I know what we will talk about and what we won't. I know what will happen if I don't make the call, or if my call is the second rather than the first.
What I am praying for today, in my house with a loving Daddy and an adoring little boy, is that for everyone who is suffering today, who is hurting, who is seeking or struggling, for anyone who is desperately alone that they find the place where our true Father can touch them. That He can bring them peace and love and grace. That they can give to Him that which we cannot bear alone, and let Him carry us as He always has.
"Think once again, He's with us to-day;
Heed now His blest command, and obey;
Hear now His accents tenderly say,
'Will you, my children, come?'
George Frederick Root - 1820 - 1895 (Presbyterian Book of Praise, 1897)