The Importance of a Dad {In celebration of Father’s Day}

Large, glossy tears rolled down her reddened cheeks caught by the invisible bucket of shame she held in her lap.  Like geological lines exposed on a weathered ocean cliff, her tears crumble from an eroded place, lost to a sea of pain. “I hate Father’s Day. Every year it reminds me of what I don’t have. All my friends hate their dad. I don’t even know mine.” With a resolved look, she quickly wipes her tears and hardens her fourteen-year-old heart. “It’s stupid.”

I could tell her that she has a Father who is good and loving and will not abandon her. I could tell her she doesn’t have to keep picking up tears like broken shards of glass; God tenderly catches each one. But I don’t.  Someday, I’m sure, we’ll have that conversation. Instead I thank her for her bold and courageous honesty.

It’s the fourth time in one week I’ve heard someone confess they miss their dad {or miss the dad they wish they had}. Maybe Father’s Day makes us sentimental, or perhaps it merely gives us permission to remember what it is we miss so much everyday. Either way, I know my young friend is wrong; it’s not stupid. The treasuring of a father is anything but stupid.

Why are dads so important? How is it that one person can be such a game changer?

My dad taught me about strength, resiliency, and being my own person. I’m sure there were conversations we had about these virtues, but I don’t remember them. I learned them primarily from watching him. From him I learned that true strength is tender, getting back up is more important than falling, and the only person who has to like you at the end of the day is you—honor the best you God created you to be.

The scriptures are filled with examples of generational impact. Adam failed his sons before they were born. Isaac couldn’t emancipate his boys from deception’s bondage. Samuel’s neglect led to his son’s demise. David excelled as a king, but as a father he stunk up the kingdom. This could sound like bad news for fatherhood, except for the comforting truth that in ways beautiful, good, and true, God is bigger than however it is our dads might have failed us.  Amen?

But dads, please hear this: Don’t let fear of failure keep you from also trying to be big in your children’s lives. They’d rather have you fail and try again, then for you to physically or emotionally abandon them to live with the crumbling of little rocks that carry away hope, worth, and love from their weathered cliff of a heart. In strength, protect their tender places. Treasure the person they were created to be. Don’t forget that the face of the Father often traces the lines of your silhouette; if you’re absent, God seems so too. Be big, dads, be big and bold!

To all the dads, like mine, who have been big and bold, Happy Father’s Day.

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