When You Feel Fatherless on Father’s Day
“It’s just another day,” she said in response to my question about Father’s Day. She, being a 30 something friend of mine, who has never met her biological dad. I assumed the day would conjure up feelings of sadness for her; but I was wrong.
It was more like being a foreigner on the 4th of July; the day came and went with no emotion. And when the same question was asked to different people, they echoed this sentiment as well. There was no sadness or anger, just indifference.
I am acquainted with their response, even though I know who my father is. At one time I felt detached from the warm fuzzies associated with this day. There were no memories of daddy daughter dates, late night talks, or boyfriend interrogations. My less than ideal relationship left me feeling like an inside outsider.
I was not alone, a growing number of women stood on the periphery with me – and still do. And sometimes, on the outside looking in, Father’s Day seemed like an exclusive club for the lucky few, rather than a national holiday. But I am now convinced that this day can be celebrated by every woman, even if she has a difficult or non existent relationship with her dad.
It happened for me. Like that moment after a thunderstorm, when the clouds part and the sun shines through; I noticed a change in my attitude. There was no longing, bitterness, disappointment or indifference; it had been replaced with perspective.
The impact of this new found state was shocking. Was it really my brain those thoughts were coming from? For so long my negative emotions were like gum sticking to the bottom of my soul. I felt indefinitely cemented to my view.
Then, after years of prayer, periodic counseling, and many times of digging through the Bible in search of scriptures that applied to me, I changed. The prayer the apostle Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus was realized in my life. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling. . .” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
When Paul said “the eyes of your heart” he was referring to their understanding. And although I spent most of my life on a pew, I needed the panoramic enlightenment found in that scripture to comprehend the hope found in Christ. My faith was limited to the basics: confession of sin, faith in Jesus as God’s son, and a belief in eternal life. But I did not see how the hope of His calling impacted me and my father.
I struggled to believe this hope pertained to the broken hearted daughter; but it does. Nestled in the truth of that scripture is hope for those who feel no connection to Father’s Day. Through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, we have the promise of acceptance and adoption by God.
We are like children on the sidelines waiting to be picked for the team, when God says,”I choose you.”
Yes, you who:
Were mistreated by your daddy,
Lost your dad to cancer,
Long to be loved,
Never knew your father,
And feel indifferent on Father’s Day.
You are the one I want.”
He repeatedly communicates this truth in His word.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
Psalms 27:10 (NIV)
“And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6: 18 (NIV)
“He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
Ephesians 1: 5 (NIV)
“…The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry Abba Father.”
Romans 8:15 (NIV)
And please don’t be distracted by the word sonship; know that if we (His daughters) are followers of Jesus Christ, God is our Father too.
This Aramaic word for Father is the term Christ used in the garden of Gethsemane.
As He approached the bloody culmination of His earthly work, He touched the heart of God by crying out, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36 (NIV) And because Christ chose to endure the suffering of the cross, we too, are afforded that same level of intimacy with our heavenly Father.
Whether our earthly dad is physically present but emotionally absent, deceased, addicted, or missing, we can have a relationship with the perfect Father. This is why Father’s Day matters; celebrating this day is not dependent on the relationship we have, or lack with our earthly dad. On this day we can choose to honor God our heavenly Father. And so, to the sovereign, almighty, merciful, and loving God who chose me – the woman on the sidelines – Happy Father’s Day!