Happy Father’s Day!
What’s your favorite memory of your father?
I was blessed, through nothing but the grace of God, with a loving Father.
I have friends who had unhappy childhoods. Abuse, sexual trauma, fear. I can understand why they sometimes have difficulty trusting God as Father.
My father loved me unconditionally. Even when he corrected me, he did it with firmness, with strength, and with an explanation of what he wanted me to learn through this lesson. His discipline usually ended with a mutual hug.
He taught me about Jesus. He wakened early to spend time at his desk, designing homes he would build; spending time reading the Bible and praying. He focused on his relationship with God, modeling that for us children.
Dad had integrity. I don’t think he ever lied to anyone.
And when someone he cared about did something that was against God’s standard, I saw Dad’s pain. Not pain for an offense against him, but for an offense against God.
One of my favorite memories is when, as a child, I sat on my Daddy’s lap in Winnipeg, Canada. Together we watched the Northern Lights flicker across the sky. While the awesome power of those brilliant, floating colored lights terrified me, I felt safe in my father’s arms.
He also taught me to act like a lady, and my brothers as gentlemen. Once, walking along the street, one of my brothers walked on the inside of the sidewalk. I was on the outside. We may have been four and six at the time.
“Arnold,” Dad said quietly from behind us, “don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” And I felt ten feet tall.
Yes, some of those old manners are no longer in style and it’s ok – we’re not walking under windows where garbage might be tossed out onto the street at any time. But Dad modeled his love for Mom, and for us, clearly and openly. And I think at least partly because of that, I now have three adult brothers whom I love dearly. They’ve walked with me through a difficult move away from a legalistic ministry; through the death of one husband and into marriage to another; and continue to be a significant part of my life.
When I broke an engagement, Mom stayed up ’til all hours while I cried and told her what had happened. The next day Dad took me to one of his job sites. He and I had a very different interaction. Calm, logical, no tears. I needed both a female and a male perspective. I felt supported having both of them listen and feed back regarding this major decision I’d made.
When I married at age 36, my father teased me about making up for lost time by having quintuplets (which I never did!). He loved going out to lunch with my first husband because Jerry encouraged him to enjoy desserts (which Mom didn’t always approve). And Jerry passed away three years after my father did. Both losses left enormous gaps in my life.
I wish Dad could have met Don, my second husband. Don shares many qualities with Dad.
- His integrity
- His love for God and his family
- His graciousness.
- His ability to fix anything around the house
- His love of color and making the yard beautiful
- Their mutual experiences in construction, and
- Don’s great love for me.
You may not have been blessed with a good father. But God promises to be a “father to the fatherless, a husband to widows.” Perhaps you need to change the word “father” to “friend”, if “father” carries a negative connotation. But as we learn to know the Father better through his Word and prayer, we understand more of his love and correction in our lives, his Father-care.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalm 68:4-6, NIV
Thanks for listening to my memories. I’d love to hear some of yours.