Fatherhood and Courage

Today we set aside a day to recognize and love on the great men that we call fathers in our society. I’m grateful for the father that was present and currently is present in my life. Showing me through the years what fatherhood is, including all of the imperfections that come with learning how to be a father.  We often celebrate the men in our lives who have been/are great fathers throughout their kids’ lives and we should. It is important as well to recognize the father figures that were not biological fathers yet played an integral role in being a father to kids that were not fortunate to have that relationship available to them. 

Being a father is not for the faint of heart. It requires much courage to stand firm on your beliefs and convictions to influence the gifts that GOD placed in our care, our children. When I think of my father, who I feel is the best dad in the world, and the path he took, I realize that the path he chose looked much different than what he experienced as a child. I appreciate the sacrifice and consistent decisions to change the trajectory of his family’s legacy to include service, education and family and not alcoholism, drug abuse and divorce. Yes over 60 years ago he made a decision to not follow in the footsteps of how his father lived. He chose a different path and I and my siblings have been a direct beneficiary of those decisions. Wow, what a difference a decision makes. A made-up mind to create a better life than what you experienced requires a tremendous amount of grit, resolve and looking beyond his own selfish desires. 

I also celebrate a fatherhood experience that I’ve witnessed over the years of a father who was not present during his child’s early years. With so many missed milestones and opportunities to nurture and influence his children, it would be easy to determine within himself that since he’s missed those opportunities, it’s pointless to pursue any type of relationship with his children. Yet, I’ve watched this father make attempts to reconnect with his children. I’ve witnessed the awkwardness of the forced conversations with someone that he remembered as a child yet faced as a woman. The frustration of coming to terms with the lost memories that he can never reclaim. I’ve seen his attempts to “put the past behind them and just move on” fail miserably. And then finally, in recent years, I’ve seen this father have the realization of the process required to forge a new relationship with the little girl he knew that has now become a woman.

I’ve watched his humility as he has acknowledged his failures as a father and his willingness to have the hard conversations about the hurt and disappointment that was caused and even the abandonment experienced during his absence. There’s been real conversation about the why and what caused the lack of ownership of his role as a father. Real conversations have been had, asking for forgiveness and even discussing if a relationship can be fostered to an adult child who has lived without a father, and what that even looks like. Coming from an authentic place of truly wanting healing in the relationship is a beautiful picture of what reconciliation and love should look like. No, it will not magically cause all hurts and wounds to heal instantaneously, but what it will do is allow for the healing process to begin, for you and your child.  Never underestimate the power of what an authentic I’m sorry will do. 

In case you’re wondering, that man is Eardie’s father. You see, I met her as a lost young woman, estranged from the father that was absent as she grew up. But over the later part of our 20 years together, I have watched in wonder as God is slowly restoring what was stolen many years ago.

This shows me that restoration is possible. Even for the fathers that weren’t there, healing is possible. Yes, it takes work, and humility, and time, and a journey that you may at times feel ill-equipped for. But it is possible.

Now experiencing fatherhood for myself, I get it. I’ve already made tons of mistakes and constantly require grace and I trust God to fill in for my human shortcomings. It helps me remain mindful that there’s only one perfect Father; the rest of us are just doing the best we can.

So, to all of my brothers, I stand with you, encouraging you to just keep doing the best you can. Whether your children are newborn or adults. Whether you’ve always been fully engaged, or you recognize some room for growth. I pray that you never give up on this experience of being a father. Happy Father’s Day to you.