It still feels surreal to buy a Father’s Day card. Considering I never bought one before I became a mom and you, a dad.
I was the same age as TJ when my daddy left. Five is young, but then again, it was old enough for me to remember the confusing emptiness of separation. I don’t think that pit-of-the-stomach feeling ever left me, even though my mind was strong enough to convince my heart. I didn’t need a dad, I said.
We married for love and not to simply procreate, yet we stepped out in faith and became parents. From the moment TJ — and later CJ — kicked in my tummy at night, tossing me and turning you, I began a journey I didn’t expect. Before our children ever saw or recognized you, I was already witnessing the love of a father.
You think of the details. You plan ahead. You quietly see what is needed and you research to make sure every rock is turned. When I’m worried, you hold me the way no one else could and listen until I’m spent. Then, we pray and you quietly whisper, “It’s going to be okay.”
Because of your gentle and loving ways as a father, that place inside me who got along fine without an earthly daddy longs for a Heavenly Father’s embrace. The more I see you father, the more I’ve come to realize what I’ve missed out on and what the boys need.
And it scares me sometimes. This needing.
What if something were to happen to you? What if I’m left here to parent alone?
As I stood at the card store earlier this week, scanning for the perfect card to get for Father’s Day, my heart was stabbed by the thought. It was that old, gnawing fear of sudden separation that has nothing to do with you, but with the past.
I turned to a woman silently browsing next to me. “These cards can really choke you up,” I commented with a heavy sigh.
As I showed her my card, she placed her hand on her heart and nodded. “Yes, they do.”
Her name was Charlene and she was a grandmother. As we spoke, she confided her husband’s health had not been doing well. Even in the face of uncertainty, her gentle husband encouraged her that together — trusting in God — they could face anything.
My Heavenly Daddy was speaking directly to me through this opportune friend. God was reminding me to keep trusting Him, as I continue to lean on you in this parenting journey.
Needing you is good thing. It’s a necessary part of being loved well, which you have done with our boys and with me.
As I turned to get in line at the checkout counter, I couldn’t wait to sign my card, to let you know how much I appreciate how you’ve put me and our family first above all else. Thank you for working hard, without sacrificing your soul. Instead, you’ve chosen to love deeply and prioritize the invisible and eternal work of fatherhood.
Happy Father’s Day.
Thank you Heavenly Daddy —
— For the fathers who have committed to the lifelong journey to love their children no matter the circumstance. Encourage them in this hidden work that calls for daily investment. Provide them with jobs for those seeking employment and strength to persevere when parenting gets tough.
— For the mothers who may find themselvesparenting single. Lift them up this weekend as they lean into You as daughters themselves. Give them the wisdom to comfort their children and joy to celebrate Your presence in their family. Assure them of your faithfulness to father their boys and girls beautifully and directly — just as you have so capably been fathering me.
— For men who walk with others as a father does. Make the connections and open the way to life-giving relationships to bless others through fatherly love and friendship. Bless the men who are taking people under their wing and giving themselves generously and selflessly, reflecting You.
— For those without a father like me. Draw us closer to you heart as Abba Father and surprise us with the joy of being totally Yours. Whom have we in heaven but you? There’s no one else who can love us the way you do. Free us to to walk through this life as a confident, well-loved child of an incredibly joyful Dad.
“Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
~ Psalm 73:23-25a
What are your thoughts on Father’s Day?
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This was exactly what I needed this morning. Reading all this on fathers gave me what I needed to face the day and inspired me to write about my father.
Thank you for sharing another piece of yourself, Bonnie. That is always a dose of encouragement. I, too, pray for all the children out there trying to grow strong and straight without the guidance of a godly father. So thankful for our Father who can make it happen. You are an example of the beautiful adults God can create even amidst pain in childhood.
So many people struggle with “Father” and “father”
Us men are notoriously bad at encouragement, faithfulness, love and compassion — all the things that God is notoriously good at.
My thoughts are torn about this upcoming father’s day. I lost my dad to a fast and serious cancer this past March. Obviously my heart is still broken, and this day brings out the emotions my family all went through in the last 6months. I appreciate your honesty and your reliance on our heavenly Father who is there and can provide comfort to the weak, and strength to the powerless.
Fathers day has always been a strange day for me. My dad left when I was little, we were 5,7,9 little girls I was the five year old. And like you our world changed the day he got in his car and drove away. We were at our grandmas and came home to an empty house and and empty hearts. The question of why always stayed with me. Were we too much? Were we not lovable? What reason could I come up with?As a child you can’t think of ‘it is about the adult not you.’ The years moved on and the questions became deeper and more longing for answers. When our dad left our mother left emotionally so we had ‘no one’ but ourselves. We basically raised ourselves.
Years later they remarried. That was very strange and they are still together as 80 year old seniors. (Growing old together) Fathers day cards are always hard because ‘he wasn’t there when we were growing up.’ I didn’t receive alot of wise advise, there are very few memories. So now I buy a basic ‘hope you have a nice day’ card and let God heal ‘the heart’ that always wanted to know. Daddy why did you leave me?
Father’s Day just strikes me as such a complicated holiday. Some many people have a mix of stories about abandonment, dedication, and some mix of the two. I know the greeting card writers are doing their best, but for people like me who have passed through some really huge highs and lows with parents, it’s hard to find a card that captures the sentiments I feel on Father’s Day–love that has persevered and even been resurrected at times when it seemed all was lost. My blog post is about a time when my Dad really supported me and made a huge difference in my life, but there aren’t cards to talk about the hard times we had and the ways our relationship has changed and grown over time.
We lost two fathers last year. it seems strange to not be buying them cards. My father was an example of fatherhood to one an all. At his memorial service one man spoke of the day my father told him that he was proud of him for getting his life together and coming ‘home’ to the church. Another spoke of how my father kept telling him he was intelligent. He says he thinks of that often as he does the work my father taught him to do. I know where my dad is – he is waiting with Mom for me to come home! My father-in-law was the example of a scientist who sought to believe but could never find the proof. Though the church was not for him, he loved me as a daughter from day one. His students in high school called him ‘Pops’ and came to him for advice. To these two Dads and to all those who have gone on before us I salute you! Thanks to my Father in Heaven for giving these men to us!
Thank you for sharing this. Isn’t God amazing, to minister us even through strangers among the greeting cards? My Daddy has loved me well. My heart breaks for you and the many others who did not experience the grace of a loving human father, but God is big enough for that, too.
Thank you for hosting the Jam again. I linked up with a post from earlier this spring; I hope that’s okay. (If not, thanks for grace.)
May God’s joy overshadow any sorrows for you and your readers this Father’s Day.
[…] Linked to today’s Faith Jam at the Faith Barista. […]
My mother was married five times and the one man who was most present during my childhood was divorced when I was a first-time parent. This had a huge impact on my feelings of security even as an adult.
I am so blessed to be married to a man who “stayed” through all the challenges of our marriage and is a wonderful father. Even so, I didn’t really understand God’s design for fathers until I met The Father!
I pray that men and women will remember Who designed marriage and Who can help during the hardest of times. He may send us to encourage, so we all need to have a biblical understanding of the purpose of marriage.
Thank you for sharing your heart, your hurts, your joys and your Savior!
Married, mostly happily for 43 years 🙂
Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. He died two days after my birthday. It’s been ten years without him. Thank you for your thoughts Bonnie. I became close to my dad in the last years of his life and treasure the memories of those times. We talked about faith alot. He had a bit of a legalistic belief and always admired me for the fact that I was so sure of being with my Father in Heaven when I died. He told me he wished he had faith like mine. Ten days before he died I asked the group of ladies that I was studying BSF ( Bible Study Fellowship) with to pray that the Lord would take away his fear of death. Well my dad died in a procession at church. He was singing….doing what he loved! From all accounts I heard from that day people said that by the look on his face and his very last actions he was met by the Lord! It continues to give me great peace thinking of this and strengthens my faith in Father God….our Abba daddy….WHO is always faithful, NEVER abandons and meets us wherever we are.
I was blessed to grow up in a home where I felt loved and secure, even though neither parent was Christian. As an only child I accompanied my parents wherever they went and often spent Saturdays on the job being my Dad’s “gopher”. I was much closer to him than to my Mom, and it wasn’t until I became an adult, wife and mother that I appreciated the personal sacrifices they made to keep my life stable even when their relationship, unsuspected by me at the time, was not.
Now both parents are deceased and we have married children and grandchildren for whom my wonderful husband models his own Christian faith and love. I imagine, for many children, the image they have of God as a heavenly father is influenced by the memories and experiences of their own fathers, and I am always thankful for the kind of man and father my husband is. But I never seem to be able to find the perfect Father’s Day card that conveys my exact feelings.
This is a beautiful, honoring post. I love this: “Needing you is good thing. It’s a necessary part of being loved well, which you have done with our boys and with me.” Throughout my years especially prior to knowing Christ, I struggled with feeling like I had to be self-sufficient and not need anyone. It’s silly, really. We all need God, and God places us here together to fellowship with and encourage one another. I’m beyond blessed and so thankful to be journeying with my husband.
Thanks, as always, for hosting all of us on the Faith Jam. (I didn’t mean for the title of my link-up to be my name! Oops! I meant for it to be the post title, but I obviously entered it in wrong. Oh well!)
I agree with much of what Ed said above. Buying Father’s Day cards can be really tricky business. The year my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor, none of the vulgar cards, or those about fishing, drinking beer, or fixing things would do. Neither would the sentimental ones about enjoying the day and wishing him well in the year ahead. I ended up just writing him a letter that year. It was hard this year, helping my teenage son find an appropriate card for his dad. There’s something about the struggle for a boy becoming a man that creates tension between father and son that Hallmark really doesn’t capture. I’m glad you created this place to share our experiences and also bear witness to the hard situations which were redeemed by God’s grace.
Thank you for sharing yourself and your heart! It is always encouraging to me to come here.
Thank you! I do not have my father because he chose to walk away almost 13 years ago. I was 28 yrs old then. I may as well have been 5. I was trying to act like an adult and say its his choice to walk away, its his loss. Right? It just put a few more layers of steel belting around my core. More protection around my heart.
Now I celebrate Father’s Day with my children and help them celebrate their Dad even though we are divorced. Its important to them and its important to him!
I learned about ABBA, my Father, one really bad night. I went to my friend and asked her to meet with me to talk and to pray. I was terrified but now I’m not sure which crisis it was that terrified me so badly. She started to pray, she called to God, then she said, no we need ABBA to come near me, hold me close so I could feel him! When we were finished and I went home I thought about her prayer over and over. This was all new to me, talking to God in such a personal way, I didn’t know what ‘ABBA’ meant! Why did she say this? Who was she talking about? So being me, I was on a mission to figure it out! I googled it, I read it in the Bible, I googled it some more. Then I asked her, why she said this? Her response–you were so terrified and scared and upset the only one who could comfort you at this point was climbing into your Daddy’s lap and cry into his great big chest, his arms will wrap around you! ABBA=Daddy–a very personal, loving, endearing name for our wonderful God! Everyday is a wonderful day to celebrate our ABBA, not just a particular Sunday in June!
Such a lovely, yet deeply bittersweet post, Bonnie. Thank you for your vulnerability, for sharing some of the harder pieces of your own story. And thank you for celebrating the good dad your husband is to your sweet boys. It’s lovely to see the swirl of redemptive grace in your story.
Bonnie, thank you for being so open and honest with your feelings. I know that I am very fortunate to have had a father who was very good to me and continues to love me. He is in his 80’s now and we’re still close. That seems to be a rare thing and I value our relationship. Although he lives on the other coast, my siblings are near him.
I’m so glad to read that your hubby is a good dad to your children. And you have an awesome Heavenly Father who absolutely and unconditionally loves you friend.
Love to you,