Father’s Day is one of those “iffy” kind of celebratory days. If you were lucky enough to have a Leave it to Beaver or Brady Bunch type of father growing up, then Father’s Day is most likely a happy day filled with warm fuzzy memories. If however, you’re like so many people who grew up with a childhood swathed in dysfunction – then today is oftentimes a day fraught with emotion, bitterness and a day spent suppressing buried pain.
I grew up somewhere in the middle with a father that didn’t fit the mold of either Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady, but leaned more towards a Don Corleone or Archie Bunker type of father. I knew my dad loved me … I think … but he parented with fear and yelling rather than hugs and praise.
My father issues date back to early childhood stemming from my parent’s volatile marriage that ended in a bitter, ugly divorce when I was six. Growing up is hard enough for the average child, but when you throw in a nasty divorce, custody battles, feuding parents, weekend parenting, remarriages, step-children, half-children … ooo-wee, you end up with a recipe for scarred, emotionally retarded children. Oh wait – maybe that was just me.
Like so many people with father issues, entering into a relationship with the Lord of the universe who is supposed to be my Abba Father; my daddy; my protector and ever-present help in time of trouble took quite a leap of faith and trust on my part. The image of a Heavenly Father that thunders from the mountain tops and wants to smite me for my disobedience is easier for me to identify with because I grew up with thunder.
My dad wasn’t a horrible dad, mind you. For most of my childhood he was simply an absentee father, which left me with rejection and abandonment issues. The time I did spend with him was often stressful as I lived in fear of his unpredictable temper. The saddest thing about our relationship was I don’t think I was ever able to share an honest opinion or emotion with him. I was very guarded with him until the day he died. I regret not ever being confident enough to truly share my feelings with my earthly father.
It’s taken a lot of years, but I’m happy that I’ve finally reached that comfort level in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. There is nothing I can’t share with him. Once I was able to get past the fear of the thundering and smiting Father – the loving, protective Father surrounded me.
Rather than dwelling on the negative memories of my relationship with my dad, today I celebrate my father and hope he’s enjoying his Father’s Day in Heaven celebrating with the angels and his Heavenly Father.
I still miss my dad — especially today. I’m comforted that my father developed a deep relationship with God before his passing in 2000 so I know we’ll be together again someday. I look forward to our reunion and can rest in the knowledge that all those fearful, painful memories of my early childhood will be long-forgotten and we can spend our eternity enjoying our heavenly relationship.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I hope you’re flying high!
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. Psalm 27:10 (NLT)