I used to think there wasn't much to celebrate on Father's Day. Like many American kids, I never really had anyone to buy a card for. My father left when I was 5-fulfilling his own dreams while turning four others' into a nightmare.
Reeling from shock, my mother sent us bouncing between a foster home and relatives. But even when she brought us back, it was never much of a family again. And Mom was never much of a mom, her life consumed by problems with work, money, alcohol, and men.
I'm not looking for sympathy-just trying to make a point about how necessary fathers are to the family, and how disadvantaged children are without them. In these days, with the media touting all lifestyles as equal and entertainment choices belittling dads right and left, it takes a survivor to point out the lie.
The truth is that fatherlessness hurts. I grew up feeling different and "less than"-all those uncomfortable feelings we try to spare fatherless kids today. Still, I would never endorse the current "cure" of teaching children that dads are optional. It was knowing that a mother/father/children family was best that eventually led me to have the commitment to work together with my husband to build one of our own.
God is not optional, either-though my mother, in her confusion, banished Him from our home. If only she had understood how much harder that made it for all of us.
Just as we need an earthly father, we need our Heavenly one-in a strong and personal way. I will never forget the first time I heard that I really did have a Father. I was 38 years old and just beginning to pull the raggedy pieces of my life together. After years of mistakes and regrets, of looking for love and affirmation in all the wrong places, of trying to fill the hole in my heart, I was someone's little girl. I could feel His love. I could trust in His forgiveness and mercy. I was His forever.
Is it not a miracle that someone who missed an earthly father's love can be healed to receive the love of the Heavenly Father? But isn't He Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals? Doesn't the Bible say He came to bind the brokenhearted, set the captives free, and release prisoners from darkness? Didn't He say we could come to Him as children? And isn't it the greatest privilege of all to call him "Abba, Father"-just as children call their fathers "Daddy"?
I remember once before he left, my father carrying me home in his arms as blood gushed from a jagged cut on my foot. I was 4 and frightened, hoping my father could fix me. But though that day he bound and stopped the bleeding, no earthly father could have healed the wounded heart he later left behind.
That hurt cried out for the love of a Heavenly Father. And so, while I was far from young when I found Him, no matter the days added to my life, the wrinkles to my face, the gray hairs to my head, I will always be His grateful little girl.
Now on Father's Day I truly have something to celebrate.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God …" (1 John 3:1).