So, this past week my dad turned 90 years old. It really seems impossible to me that my dad is 90. He will forever be the dad of my youth. Always busy doing something. Always kind, always gentle, and always available to my brother or me when we needed him. I have many memories of Dad. Almost all of them good, some are funny, some compassionate, and in all honesty, I don’t remember any bad memories. Growing up I had a great dad; I am very blessed to be able to say that I still have my dad.
In fact, what I know is this: I am fortunate to have had a great dad. Because you see, I know there are many people who did not have good fathers growing up. My husband is one. His dad was an alcoholic. One of the hardships of not having a good father, is when we go to church and hear father language about God. It can be hard to take. In fact, there are many people who can’t begin to envision God as father because of the difficulties they had with their earthly father. When you realize this, the importance of being a good father becomes very real. More than real, it becomes something to live up to. And God has pretty high standards. He is loving, generous, kind, compassionate and filled with grace and mercy for every person in this world, past, present, and future. God wants what is best for all God’s children and God gives good gifts to us all.
Unfortunately, many people deal with the images they have of their earthly father and overlay those images onto God. So, because of their experiences, for them, God is distant, absent, cruel, a taskmaster, angry, vengeful, and so many other attributes that many individuals have endured from their fathers. The very sad thing is that God is none of those. But as human beings, when we hear certain words, like “father,” they evoke images of our experiences of what those words mean to us.
So, for me father means someone who will bring home an adorable marmalade kitten to his daughter because he knows how much she loves cats and is lonely and needs a companion because we just moved to a farm in central Ohio from Los Angles California, and she doesn’t know anybody. Father means someone who will take the tractor out onto the pond in the middle of winter to check to make sure the ice is thick enough for his daughter and son to go ice skating. Safe enough so it won’t crack even though he can’t swim if the tractor breaks through the ice. Father means tying a rope onto our sleds and hooking them up to that same old Case tractor and driving around the farm as fast as that old tractor can go, so my brother and I can “go sledding” since we didn’t have any hills on our property. Father means teaching me how to drive and not yelling (too much) because I wasn’t a great driver and made lots of mistakes. Even though I had been driving that old Case tractor since I turned 13! (Cars apparently are harder) Father means not yelling at my nine-year-old self when I brought a “D” home in math in fourth grade because I couldn’t memorize my times tables. Instead, asking me if I thought I had done my best and to try harder for the next grading period.
Father means someone who celebrated all the milestones of my life. Who let my brother and I build a putt putt golf course, a go cart track, and turn our barn into a haunted house at Halloween. Father means someone who showed us how to do things for ourselves. To think for ourselves and to be independent. (Something he may have regretted a time or too as my brother and I are very self-sufficient) So…I was blessed because I have a good, good father. And because I have a good father here in this world, I have a good image of God and what a good father God is to me as well as to every other person on earth.
In this season of Advent, this season that asks us to wait in expectation for Christmas when we celebrate Jesus, Remember Joseph. Jesus’ earthly father and what a good father he must have been to Jesus, God’s son. And for everyone who didn’t have a good father growing up, I am sorry. That is not what God wanted for you, nor does the example your father gave to you resemble who God is. For everyone who like me had a good father, I hope you will share some of your memories with me just as I have shared some of mine with you. I would love to hear your stories of how your father showed you what being a good father looked like.
May your day be blessed and filled with good memories of happy times.