A few years ago I served as a chaperone for a school trip at the high school where I taught. The trip was filled with the usual high school shenanigans that come with putting one hundred 17 year olds together for a week. It was the highlight of my teaching experience, really. I stayed up late nearly every night talking to girls and laughing like I was a teenager again. I reluctantly skied on runs that were far beyond my comfort zone. I ate like a high school student and read magazines just for fun. And I rode on a bus for way too many hours. But what has stayed with me most in the years since is not what you would likely expect.
The trip made me appreciate my dad.
As I listened to the lives of so many of the girls on the trip, a recurring theme continued in every story. They wished their dad cared more about them. Some came from broken homes, where their dads weren’t around much because of custody agreements and separate households. Some came from intact families, but they saw little more of their dad than if he lived in a completely different zip code. While they weren’t necessarily trying to have a conversation about a dad who isn’t there, it came out even in their descriptions of every day problems—most notably in their interactions with boys.
At one point, midweek, I called my dad just to thank him. I am sure I had thanked him in the past, but this time it was different. I realized what I had and I didn’t want to take it for granted. As Father’s Day approaches, I imagine that for many of those girls I interacted with back then it’s not a day they are looking forward to.
Father’s Day, with all its fanfare, stings for some people. It’s a reminder of the dad you don’t have. It’s a reminder of that dad you wish you had. While everyone else around you is sings the praises of their dad, you can’t think of one single thing nice to say about him.
I’m sorry for that.
Like Mother’s Day, Christians would do well to remember that Father’s Day isn’t happy for everyone. Whether you have lost your father and he’s not here to celebrate, or you have lost him figuratively, you are not forgotten in the midst of backyard grilling, presents from Home Depot, and “I Love You, Dad” cards. We remember you, this Father’s Day.
But more importantly, God remembers you. You see, he has a special place for the fatherless (Ps. 68:5). He sees every tear you cry over the mess your earthly father has made of your family. He hears every prayer you pray for the healing of your earthly father or the restoration of your family. And he will never forsake you.
As we approach another Father’s Day, let’s remember that it’s not a happy day for all. In the midst of our celebrations for the very real good so many of our fathers bring to our lives, may we have eyes to see the one in the background who only wishes they had a dad to celebrate this day.
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