With Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday just a few days away, I thought it appropriate to share some of my thoughts on my dad. You might ask, “Why choose such an unimpressive picture to use in a Father’s Day post?” Well, the answer is simple and sad. This is the most recent picture I have of the two of us together. No, my dad’s not dead, but it feels like our relationship has been for a while now.
My dad worked 40-60 hour weeks. Most of what I remember about him from my childhood involve him either gone to work, sleeping in his recliner, or beginning (but never quite finishing) another project. He wasn’t particularly engaged in my life outside of peewee football. I don’t know that I ever saw him and my mom hug or kiss. I hope these things don’t sound like shots at him because they aren’t. This is simply how I remember life way back when.
My dad wasn’t a bad dad. He was simply another in a long line of parents repeating many of the dysfunctions passed on to them by their parents. Make no mistake, my parents made a ton of tragic choices that ruined their marriage and, except for the grace of God, would have sunk me too. I’ve forgiven both of them and pray daily for my parents. I’ve seen God do amazing things in my family, and I long for the day I see him reconcile me with my dad.
You see, I haven’t seen my dad since 2003 (and that was at a court house). I haven’t spoken to him directly since somewhere around 2005-06. I’ve left him voicemails off and on just trying to remind him of how much I love and miss him. Occasionally I will get e-mails from him, but none of those exhibit a desire to reconcile our relationship.
There are times that I actually forget I have a dad, and my heart breaks all over again when I realize that my memories of my still-living father are fading into oblivion. I don’t exactly know how to answer my son when asks, “Daddy, who is your dad?” All I can muster is, “His name is Grandpa __________. You haven’t met him yet. Maybe one day, you will.” There are few things that I desire more than for my son to meet my dad. One of those things that trumps my desire for that meeting is for me to know that my son will never have to worry about going through this situation.
When Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday roll around, I find myself sinking into a maddening maze of “what if’s” and “if only’s”. I get nostalgic about the fun times I used to have with my dad only to realize I don’t remember any of them. It seems as though they’ve all been lost.
It is in those painfully empty moments that I am encouraged most as a dad. The refrain of Job echoes in my heart, “God gives and He takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” God has given me a dad and, for now, has removed him from my life. God has given me a wife whom I could never deserve. God has given me one son and another child we will soon get to meet. God has extended to me transforming grace and power that has and continues to enable me to shake off my baggage and sin to become more like my heavenly Father and less like my earthly one. God surrounded me with wonderful surrogates in high school and college to serve as fatherly figures. He has blessed me with the best father-in-law and grandfather-in-law possible.
Even though, at this moment, things are tragically broken with my father, I have much to celebrate this Father’s Day. God is good and does good things. Maybe by this time next year I can post a more recent photo of me and my dad. That’ll be my prayer.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you more than you know.