With Father’s Day just passed, I’ve thought a lot about my Dad.
He died eighteen years ago, and I’m still saddened by the reminders of him that I encounter on a daily basis. Small winks of wit and wisdom that allow me to remember the man I deeply loved and respected.
Dad was a man of great humor and a generous heart. He would be uncomfortable with the social distancing now; his normal response to being around people, old friends or new acquaintances, was to shake hands with firmness and respect, no matter whose hand he was shaking. His smile lit up a room, and his go-to phrase was “It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind.”
What was most memorable about Dad was the stories he told. Stories of his growing-up years in Texas on a small farm. The youngest of five children, he would tell of the chores he had to do–and the ones he was able to get out of doing. He’d describe the fun he’d have with his brothers and sisters, the trouble they’d get into. All of us kids could point to the place on the floor in the hallway where he’d fallen off the stairs, landing on his mouth, losing his teeth. The marks remained as a testimony to his fearlessness as a young boy climbing up the wrong side of the banister.
The stories Dad told showed him to be a man who understood that we as kids didn’t always follow directions. We didn’t always obey or make the best choices. His stories described a man who lived and learned who he was no matter his circumstances. His stories made him approachable, genuine, a man of feelings who recognized our weaknesses and didn’t abandon us because of our imperfections.
He wasn’t perfect. He was present.
It’s a character quality I’ve found in my husband and sons-in-law. A sense of being in the moment and believing the best of their children. Men who listen and recognize that what they perceive isn’t always what’s happening.
I’m grateful to have these men in my life. To see them as reflections of a greater Father who is very present with His children. One who is kind and full of grace, gentle and yet firm. One who is approachable, who doesn’t shame His children but listens. Discipline comes from love, not anger.
God is a Father to all who will choose to be His children. He adopts us into a family that is diverse and widespread, with relatives from every tribe and nation of the world. A family that is full of variety and differences.
All loved equally, even in their imperfections.
Father’s Day reminds us of the great need in our lives for men who will responsibly love and care for their families. For each of us to have someone we can look up to who is faithful in love and trustworthy to do what is best for us.
That won’t be a full reality until heaven.
He alone loves us with an everlasting love. Not seeking to shame us when we blow it–which we will. But helping us get up and move on in hope.
The best Dad ever.