A Letter From my Dad…
Some years back I got a letter from my dad. It was the only letter I’d ever received from him – and it was the only letter I ever would. He died shortly after writing it.
He wasn’t imparting some great bit of wisdom in it. He wasn’t teaching me the important things in life. He wasn’t trying to impart character or kindness or gentleness or an attitude of compassion or service. He wasn’t instructing me to live a life that mattered or amounted to something.
It was short – about 3 or 4 sentences. It wasn’t particularly well written. It definitely wasn’t eloquent.
It was his best attempt at an apology, and I took it as such. But if I’m honest, it wasn’t even a good apology.
When I was little – really little – my first vivid memory was seared into my psyche – that of a father, angered by something vague and confusing, storming around our house, slamming doors and yelling, and then getting in the car and driving away… for good.
It was a formative memory, as you might imagine.
Dads are important, but like so many other’s in our day, my dad left.
Father’s Day then, has always been a challenge. I see cards with sentiments that I have never felt. I hear testimonies to the “best dad ever” and I wonder what it must be like to think about someone that way.
But life goes on anyway, doesn’t it? Time passes and children grow up whether their fathers help them grow up well or not, don’t they?
One year my kids were playing some music and the lyrics caught my attention. Good Charlotte is one of those bands that can rock your ears right off, but this song (and several others) revealed an insight to this experience that made me listen again. “Hey Dad” (lyrics here) verbalizes the pain that every child feels when they are abandoned by a parent.
And while the circumstances may be understood better as children grow into adulthood, the brokenness expressed in this song never goes away. Read that again – it never goes away. The lesson that every child takes away from this kind if experience is this: he didn’t love me enough. That’s a hard lesson to grapple with no matter how old you are.
What do we do? How do we move forward? How do we learn all of those important things that Dads should teach – no model – for their children?
It took me a long time, but I finally figured it out.
Not long after I received that one and only letter from my dad (which was many, many years after he had gone) it dawned on me that I do have an awesome letter from my DAD – my FATHER.
It’s long and wordy – full of wisdom and instruction. It’s deep and thought-provoking. It fills me with awe and wonder. It challenges and convicts me. It stretches me to think and respond and grow. It’s the best letter any child could receive from any father!
It’s my Bible.
God’s Word is His letter to his children. I read it now as a personal letter to me – from the One who tells me I can call him Daddy. It tells me about His character. It tells me how to live my life. It tells me how to love him. It tells me how to love others. It teaches me to be kind and forgiving. It teaches me to be helpful and serve others. It’s got big lessons and small ones – lessons about how to view the world around me and what my history, my roots are; and it has lessons about how to handle money, how to deal with others in business, and yes, how to parent. It has counsel for relationships and it tells of His sacrificial love – that nothing would stop him from saving His own and nothing can steal them away – me away – from His tender care. God’s Word makes it plain that He is not capricious, neither is he moody or selfish. Everything He does is for my good. Everything that He requires from me is for my good. His word teaches me what true love is…
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (from 1 Corinthians 13)
God is love. God is all of this and so much more and He is my dad – my Father. And he wrote me a letter – the best letter anyone could ever receive.
It’s not that it doesn’t matter that my biological father did a bad job – it does. But I don’t have to stay there – you don’t have to stay there. Learn from it. Feel deeply about it. Minister to others who know the same pain. But look to the love of God in the midst of it. Know that you are learning things about the Almighty Creator of the Universe that you could not have learned any other way. Stop aching for something your earthly father can never give you and fly into the arms of a Heavenly one who can’t wait for you to know how deep and wide and vast and free is HIS love for you.
So, to those of you who have been challenged by Father’s Days in the past, weep no more. Look to the One who loves you better than any human man can.
And, to those of you who have wonderful dads – praise God for them! Love them and honor them and cherish them. Bless them and tell them how much you appreciate their steadfast, enduring love towards you. Remember that no dad is perfect, but if they’re there, and they’re willing to try and fail and try again – you have been given a precious gift that is worth more than gold. Encourage them today and maybe share them with some of those around you who need to peek into your family’s life to know what that should look like. You have been richly blessed.
Happy FATHER’S day…