If you are anything like me, the thought of Father’s Day brings with it a dark veil of sadness and a heavy reminder of the gaping hole in your heart. We see the Father’s Day gifts ads — for the outdoor dad, for the tech savvy dad, for the wine-loving dad — and the only “dad” we know is the absent father.
Sure, I desire to lift up and celebrate all of the amazing dads out there, but I find myself caught in a tension.
In one sense, no matter how difficult things were, I still feel a sense of gratitude. After all, my biological father gave me the gift of life, for which I remain grateful. The mature — or perhaps healed — parts of me beg me to lift up a silent prayer, for him and all fathers, even those who are unworthy of being elevated to ‘Father of the Year’ status.
At the same time, trying to find a way to justify celebrating Father’s Day somehow made my wound grow deeper. While others were out toasting their dads at brunch, I was alone in my sadness, hiding my tears in the shadows.
But this Father’s Day is different.
I’ve come to learn that living in the tension is actually a healthy place to be. It stretches me, encourages my growth. It helps me to see where I am and where I’ve come from.
Living in the tension invites me to see things in a new light and gives me the courage to face today with hope.
From this place I’ve discovered the permission to become radically me — to embrace all parts of myself, even the parts that still ache alongside the parts that feel free and whole.
The truth is there is no healing without authenticity. When I named the pain, I gave God space to work in my life. God already knew my struggles. He was always there. He was patiently waiting. I just needed to let Him in.
Instead of faking the smiles, I found the freedom to live as I am. I learned to release the tight grip that I held on the hard memories and discovered an ability to take my past and transform it into something beautiful.
Once I made room for God to enter, He taught me how to become attentive — truly attentive.
I had new eyes to see the circumstances of my life. I began to see the everyday moments as gifts and discovered the father figure God was placing before me.
For me, this is one proof of God’s existence. Through no doing of my own, God has placed a man in my life to witness to me the strength of a true father.
I met Lou when I started working with his wife and their family took me in as their Goddaughter.
We don’t share the same DNA, but Lou, whom I now call Dad, shares a love with me that is somehow stronger than blood. I trust his love, and for me that is perhaps the most radical thing I can say.
Today, I’m building a whole new set of memories, and trust me, goodness always outweighs the darkness.
If I were falling from a mountainside, I know the warrior in Lou would come out, and he’d do whatever he could to catch me from falling. If I needed fatherly advice, I now know I have a dad I can call upon.
Lou’s presence in my life extends beyond my earthly comprehension. If there is a God in heaven who loves me enough to send Lou my way, then that’s the simple, yet profound truth: there is a God in heaven who loves me. A Father in heaven, whose love can never be outdone in generosity.
Lou has also taught me to demand more from our culture. Ladies, do not let a fatherless wound rob you of your dignity. You are enough. You are not too much. You are worthy of love.
To my guy friends out there, it’s time to step up. Live lives worthy of being called fathers and husbands. If you want to make this world a more just place, take responsibility for your actions. Be dependable, honest men.
This Father’s Day, when I’m out celebrating with my dad Lou and the rest of my Godfamily, I’ll pause for a moment and think of you.
Each time you think you are unwanted, unlovable — remember, God is thinking of you. Even if you don’t feel His presence today, God has not abandoned you. You are not an orphan; you are not fatherless. You are the daughter of the One who made all that is good and beautiful. My hope for you is that you can find the courage to make room in your heart to feel His presence.
Take it from me — even though the journey is long, it’s a worthwhile walk.
I’m walking with you,