Celebrating Fathers

If you read my Mother’s Day post last month, you may remember the most controversial of my public statements to date. And today, I’m going to add another.

Not only is my mother the best mother in the world, but I have the best father in the entire world too.

I know, I know. How can one person be so fortunate?

I ask myself that a lot. I don’t deserve them, I can’t ever repay them for all they’ve done for me, and I can’t even find the right words to describe how incredible they are. Even as a writer, my brain always quits, leaving me to search for the appropriate ways to describe them.

The best I can find is that I’m grateful. Overwhelmingly, impossibly so.

It seems that every day I hear stories from people who didn’t have good childhoods. They didn’t have parents that loved them, or at least they never showed it. They felt underappreciated, undervalued, and sometimes downright hated by the people who raised them. Home wasn’t a safe space but a prison. A battlefield. Just a building they stayed at.

And it’s also broken my heart to hear from all the people that struggle in their relationship with and/or view of God because of their fallen relationship with their fathers.

Because their father never expressed love, they can’t believe their Heavenly Father loves them. Because their father was only fond of them when they succeeded, they think their Heavenly Father will only be proud of them if they work hard enough. Because their father berated and humiliated them, they can’t accept that their Heavenly Father works only for their good.

Our relationships with our earthly fathers – the struggles, the challenges, and the good things – greatly affects our relationships with our Heavenly Father.

And with today being Father’s Day, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my own relationship with my dad. On what he’s taught me – about God, about people, about work…about every aspect of life on Earth. I’ve thought hard about the many ways he’s blessed and influenced my life. And as I stop and dwell on how God’s worked through him, I’m awed.

My dad isn’t perfect, and I know that. But it’s actually the fact that he’s not – the fact that he’s pained and is tempted, the fact that he gets stressed and struggles with life – and is still such an incredible dad is very inspiring to me.

I know I’m not, and have never been, an easy child to raise. Looking back at how I’ve changed through the years…from a wild blonde fireball, to an angsty teenager sure no one understood my internal struggles, to a still insecure young adult trying to figure out this crazy thing called life…I don’t know how my parents have managed me.

But I’m so glad and so, so grateful that God chose to give me my father. That I get to be his daughter.

Where would I be without all the things he’s taught me?

He’s taught me to put others first.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always known that my dad would be there for me. Whether it’s for advice, a laugh, good music, to fix a technological issue that I can’t figure out (but that he can glance in its direction and solve), or anything else, I’ve always been able to count on him. When many others would point to lack of time, he makes the time.

It’s not that he has nothing to do and plenty of time to spare. No, my dad is probably the busiest people I know. And yet, I have countless memories of him just spending time with his kids…bonding, playing games, listening to music, being outside… Now that I’m older and see the way he’ll often pull all-nighters to accomplish his work deadlines, but still give us his attention during the day, I’m even more humbled by his sacrificial example. I pray I’ll learn to follow it.

He’s taught me to give generously.

In the same way, my dad is also incredibly generous. With his time, his energy, his advice, his resources, his heart – anything others need, he is so quick to give. It amazes me. He’s not reckless, and he’s always intentional about caring for his own family, but he also doesn’t hesitate to trust God for His provision. His faith in the ultimate Provider is so strong.

As I’ve grown and watched my dad give and trust God in these ways, I’ve been continually inspired to be as generous as he is. As willing to have faith, to reach out, and to be God’s hands and feet to others. I’ve seen firsthand how his generosity has impacted others for good – including his own family. What a blessing to learn through experience that living a generous life is truly what God wants for each of us.

He’s taught me to work hard.

My dad has so much on his shoulders every single day. Things within our family, with extended family, with friends, for his business, for our church…countless obligations, responsibilities, interruptions, leadings, and duties to sort through and manage. And I’ve watched him do whatever it takes to accomplish them. I’ve marveled at how hard he works.

I wish I could take so much of his workload from him. I pray that there’ll be a point when he won’t have to work as hard as he does. That he’ll have more time to take care of himself and do more of the things he enjoys. But his example of diligence and hard work in the midst of a mind-boggling schedule amazes me and encourages me to do the same – relying on God’s strength to keep up, rather than relying on my own.

He’s taught me to bring joy.

In my opinion, if there’s anyone who’s mastered the fine art of sarcasm and wit, it’s my dad. Whether he’s telling classic ‘dad jokes’, making horrible(-ly clever) puns, quoting the perfect movie line at just the right moment, changing song lyrics to fit the current situation, deadpanning one-liners, or just making witty jokes in general, he’s one of the few people that can always seem to make others laugh.

His sense of humor is fantastic, and I consider it a blessing to have inherited a similar one. Not that I can ever pretend to be as witty as him, but if humor is an art, then I’m studying it. And I have a pretty amazing teacher. At family gatherings or work or wherever he happens to be, laughter and smiles follow. A joyful heart is good medicine, and my father is a great example of making others feel better that way.

And he’s taught me to have faith in God – no matter what.

Just as everyone’s else’s, life has not been easy. My family has had a lot of rough spots. Plenty of storms and situations that could and often do rattle people so hard that they stumble away from Christ. Obstacles that have sent a lot of people railing at God, blaming Him and wanting nothing more to do with Him.

But I’ve never once seen my dad say anything against God. I don’t know exactly how he’s felt after these tough ordeals. After the shock, grief, and raw pain. But even when he doesn’t understand why God’s letting these things happen, even when it’s completely rocked our life and introduced a new wave of anguish, he’s a constant reminder to me to continue trusting God. To continue believing that He knows best, and that He is working.

And he’s right. I’ve seen it too many times to count now, and I would never try to deny it. But without his example, I don’t know if I’d have stayed the path long enough to recognize the ways God’s worked. He’s been a rock. Someone I can count on to do the right thing, at the right time, not leading others astray, but looking to God instead. And without that, I don’t know where I’d be right now.

The older I get and the more I learn to look closely and appreciate the many ways my dad models Christ in my life, the more in awe I am of him. I don’t deserve him. But I sure am thankful for him.

Because of him, I’m inspired to put others first. I’m motivated to give generously. I’m challenged to give my all and work hard in every circumstance. I’m compelled to have and to bring others joy, even in the toughest situations. And I’m constantly reminded that our God is both faithful, and worthy of putting our faith in. In the mountains and the valleys, in the joyful moments and the rough patches, and from the time I wake up in the mornings until I fall asleep – and then all over again.

Every moment spent with my dad, every minute learning from him, is a blessing. I thank God for the time I’ve had with him so far, and pray that I’ll be able to have many more years of the same. I – and all my siblings – love him very much.

Yes, I’m biased. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s awesome. It’s just true.

Faith, love, patience, generosity, wit, diligence, dedication, strength, joy…he’s got it all. And I’m beyond humbled and overwhelmingly blessed to get to claim him as my father.

Thanks, Dad.

For everything.

Thank you.

The righteous lead blameless lives;
blessed are their children after them.
(Proverbs 20:7 NIV)

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