A Father’s Day MeditationHealing Our Memories of Father
Many families actually celebrate Father’s Day as something more than a day of commercial success for sellers of golf balls and neckties. But for some, the idea of honoring their fathers stirs memories of disappointment or conflict. Idealized greeting cards don’t fit the reality of fathers who left indelible hurtful marks on the hearts of their children.
Some of us never knew their fathers because of death or divorce. What remains is a sadness and a longing for a relationship that never was.
Some have had fathers who were present, but aloof; they diminished their children’s hearts and self-esteem by their silence, never giving a welcoming word or a hug to say, “You’re special.”
Some strong-willed fathers, vocal in their opinions, flung hurtful words at their children, words that still sting today.
Some of us had fathers who did the best they knew how, although they were not perfect men. They worked hard for the family. They scolded us into being good citizens. They hugged us once in awhile. They were proud of us, but may not always have said so. And yet, we may still wish that they had been more involved, more direct in their affection for us or more interested in what we were doing.
There is one father deserving of unbridled honor. Our Father in heaven, who is the perfect model for human dads to follow. He is both strong and tender, wise and patient, correcting and forgiving. There is no Hallmark card that can fully express His worth. This God who came to fill every dark corner of the human heart with light, who came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ, God in flesh, did so to heal our individual and collective brokenness.
We cannot overestimate the importance of this or the sheer beauty and love of it. We find it expressed in the Bible in this way:
“When the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman…so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir”
– Galatians 4:4-7
So in honor of Father’s Day we can turn to God in prayer and allow Him to bring solace to hurtful memories and to shape our thoughts so the misgivings we might have toward our earthly fathers can be replaced by God, the Father who is fully for us.
“Dear God, would You fill the void in the hearts of those who regret never having been on good terms with their earthly fathers, who still feel like they might be responsible for their parents divorcing or for their father’s absence? Would Yours be the arms to run to in pain and in life’s disappointments? Would You reassure us that You will never abandon nor forsake us?
Would You, Father-God, accept those of us who didn’t hear their fathers call them “special” or whose fathers were aloof and silent? Would You tell us we’re okay?
Would You, Abba-Father, speak kindness and mercy and affection now to replace the hurtful, stinging words that still echo in the minds of those of us who endured verbal blows from our earthly fathers. Let us always hear Your healing voice as we read the Word of God.
Would You fill with Your grace all the longings of those of us who wanted more attention from our earthly fathers?
And Father, whether we were blessed with the near-ideal father who modeled himself after You and taught us to grow in wisdom, kindness and responsibility, or had fathers who were weighed down by their own struggles, we are humbly thankful and celebrate their presence in our lives. Would You, Father-God, in whatever memory we find ourselves, help us be grateful and forgiving toward our fathers? For they may have carried their own unnamed disappointments from childhood into parenthood. Redeem and heal these memories so that they don’t distort our view of You. And for those of us who are fathers, may we see You as our model, confessing our inadequacies, seeking forgiveness from both You and our children when we have fallen short.
Abba-Father, we entrust all these precious relationships to You, past and present, for Your glory, that we may all be conformed to the image of our loving God who hears us when we call and knows us by name.”