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It’s Father’s Day, that time of year when we honor our dads and show them how much we appreciate them. But for many of us, this is a difficult time. Our fathers were absent in one form or another and we find it difficult to celebrate our less than perfect dad.
As followers of Christ, it’s also a time when we reflect on the love and goodness of our Heavenly Father.
A few years ago, I asked The Father to help me to understand how much He loves me. Since then I’ve been overwhelmed by His many acts of love too many times to count. I know that when He says His love endures forever, He means forever and there is nothing I could ever do to change that.
But in understanding more and more who my Heavenly Father is, I’m made painfully aware of who my earthly father is not. Our earthly fathers are meant to be the representatives of our Heavenly Father on this earth. They are meant to show us the Father’s love in a way that helps us to understand Him.
Since becoming a follower of Christ, I’ve seen lots of Christian fathers model this, trying to love and support their children in the same way that our Heavenly Father does. I’ve seen non-Christian fathers who are also making a concentrated effort to be active in the lives of their children, attending PTA meetings, and being present and supportive at extracurricular activities.
Some of you today are celebrating wonderful fathers. As daughters, they set your standards of what to look for in a man, they were there for your important moments and taught you invaluable life lessons that you still practice to this day.
There are some of us though, who for whatever reason, don’t have many of these memories. Some of our fathers just weren’t there for us, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Some of us may even have had to cut ties with our fathers for our own self-preservation.
My own dad is from the old school era of men, who believed that their primary responsibility to their family, was to provide financially and I’m sure he loved us the best way he knew how. He was a great provider and rule setter but he wasn’t as involved in my teenage and young adult years as I would have liked, those years when I needed guidance most.
I realize that on the parenting issue scale, my problems don’t rate very high because there are people out there that may have had to endure abuse in one form or another from one or both parents and I’d never want to trivialize that.
Still, I wish that my dad had been more involved in the things that I was interested in growing up and that we’d had those one-on-one talks where he dished out words of wisdom. I wish we had made more of those kinds of memories.
Having said all that, I am still determined to honor my dad as commanded in Exodus 20:12, a commandment that comes with the promise of long life. It’s not always easy but here are a few simple ways that you can honor your less than perfect dad as well.
UNDERSTAND WHERE HE IS COMING FROM
Your dad probably loved you in the best way he knew how. He may not have had a good example to show him what it really means to be a father. I
Both of my grandfathers died before I was born, so I can’t say what his dad was like, but I’m not sure that there was someone in his life to show him that he was meant to imitate Father God in his role as a father so that his children would have an earthly example of who He really is.
PRAY FOR HIM
Ask your Heavenly Father to help you to see your earthly father through His eyes. God chose him to be YOUR father, He didn’t choose someone else. I believe that when God chooses which child a couple will get it’s because He’s placed something in that couple that is meant to help that child become who they were meant to be.
He’s your dad for a reason. This Father’s Day when you think of your earthly father, try to see him as God created him to be – a good father.
Ask God to help you to forgive your father for any wrongs he may have done to you. It’s more for you than him. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness is like poison to your soul. The Bible tells us that we will be forgiven in the same measure that we forgive (Matt 6:12)
I know that sometimes, given the circumstances, this is very hard to do. But it’s a process. Give it a try and see.
REMEMBER THE GOOD THINGS AND GIVE THANKS
Try to find things about your father to give God thanks for; cherish the good things. In my younger years, I remember that my dad used to take us on picnics almost every bank holiday (and that the drive back home as always a bit faster because maybe he had one too much … not sure if that something I should give thanks for though,
I also can’t ever remember a time where he didn’t have a car (that’s a big thing when you live on an island in the Caribbean). I’ve never had to take the bus to school and he practically drove me everywhere I needed to go until I was in my early 20s (and then he drove my kids around instead :))
FIND A SPECIAL THING
One of the things that I really love about my dad is that he chose my name, Deborah. Around the time that I turned 40, I started trying to find my real purpose on this earth and was reading a book called The Deborah Anointing. I
When I asked him, he said he didn’t know why he chose it lol, but the way I see it is that my Heavenly Father and my earthly father came together at that moment to choose a name for me that would indicate my destiny, even if my earthly father didn’t realize it at the time.
REMEMBER YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE WITHOUT HIM
This one should be obvious but I think we sometimes forget. Without your dad, there would be no you. If you can’t find a way to honor him using one of the other tips the at least remember this one. There would be no you, without him.
If you have a dad that you think is maybe a little less than perfect, try using one of these tips to honor him this week. Because the truth is, compared to our Heavenly Father, all fathers are flawed and less than perfect in some way, yes… even the ones who appear to have it all together.
Our Father in heaven is the only perfect father so even if you’re not at the point yet where you feel you can honor your earthly father, know that God is enough.