Father’s Day comes quickly again this year. I turn around once or twice and we have zoomed from winter into the throes of summer. It seems our Idaho weather has skipped most of Spring, or maybe my memory has faded a bit in the bright sun. All I know is that it is near the end of June, my younger brother is turning seventy on Father’s Day, and somehow my husband turned seventy-seven a few months ago. Time is indeed marching on, unrelentingly, with no care of it’s effects on us temporal folk. Our children are grown, most with children of their own. The grands growing up are like measuring sticks of the years speeding by.
Happily, there are still timeless things in this world that one may celebrate. I imagine that when the holidays to celebrate mothers and fathers originated, the basis was for the sheer honoring of good parents who loved and raised their children well. Some of us were blessed with that experience in our young lives; many definitely were not. In a broken world full of broken people, even in those homes where true kindness and love towards one another reigned, inevitably conflict, hurt, or tragedy occurred, sneaking in to try to ruin the pie. So what do we do with that, when celebration may bring much joy, but maybe memories of other stuff we’ve “stuffed” as well.
For me reviewing memories of what was, celebrating what is, and dreaming of what can be enriches my life. Perhaps in our elder years the propensity to “practicing memory” is a necessary exercise! I know it has brought me much joy as I focus on those good and positive things that have been given me. A protective, loving father who provided for our family formed a great part of my foundation, as did my mother’s gentle nurture and care. Both came from hard working, faithful, large families who looked out for one another, stood together. When I faced stormy parts of my young life that unfailing love and trust helped ballast my boat to keep me afloat. And those memories that are not so sweet? The hard work of facing them with God’s help, seeking truth and healing has brought much relief.
My husband’s family experience gave him an especially deep connection with his dad. Dad Y. always provided for the family; they were his top priority. I hear my husband’s deep respect for his dad as we reminisce of his years growing up, the challenges he faced. The many years we and our children enjoyed Grandpa Y. after he moved to our town proved him a gentle man, with a great love of family and friends. I hold him in high regard as I hear how he fathered his children and honored his marriage. He and my dad both shared that same virtue of care and protection for their own. And they both lived it well.
I see these same traits in my brother and my husband. And am thankful that our children and their cousins have experienced faithful fathers who have done their best to grow, love, and care for them. Fathering must be a tremendously weighty experience for some, when the realities of caring for others while working in highly stressful careers, and navigating unexpected life challenges, present situations that seem not to resolve. I wonder how God feels at times. He is the perfect Father, yet a great part of His creation totally ignore Him, or are in rebellion to His ways of living love. He is, after all, where real love comes from. (“ . . . for God is love.” See 1 John 4:7-11).
Each of us, every one, has so much to learn about what life is really all about. As I grow more secure in relationship with God personally, reflecting back on those past and present men in my life who have modeled fathering, it brings me to a place of deep gratitude. For those men who have not been able to traditionally carry out fathering their children as one would expect or like, my prayer for them this Father’s Day is that they will receive grace in their situations as well. Even the best of fathers are imperfect, and we are all still children in need of our Heavenly Father to show us the way to truly love. May your Father’s Day be rich in joy, memories, relationship, forgiveness, gratitude, and love. And with thanksgiving that God is not finished with any of us yet! His true love never fails! Blessings to you!